Researchers' new diagnostic test can identify each person's optimal salt intake

May 1, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have cut through conflicting advice about salt consumption by demonstrating that each person has a "personal salt index," an upper limit on daily salt consumption for good health. In addition, they have developed a test to determine that level – and to identify people who should consume more salt.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that can be reduced by a low-salt diet. While nonprofit organizations such as the and the Institute of Medicine have a "one size fits all" recommendation on salt intake, the U.Va. research helps make clear that each individual is genetically programmed with a "personal salt index" and thus dietary guidelines should be personalized.

U.Va.'s Robin Felder, the senior author on a paper on the topic published recently in the journal Clinica Chimica Acta, explained: "The blood pressure of about 25 percent of the population is sensitive to salt, increasing risk for strokes, heart attacks and . An individual's response to salt cannot be measured in a doctor's office. Therefore, we developed a to help the medical community determine an individual's ability to tolerate salt, which we are calling the 'personal salt index.'"

He added, "Lowering salt intake might not be good for everyone, since about 15 percent of individuals demonstrate an increase in blood pressure on a low-salt diet – just the opposite of what one would expect." There are other potentially harmful effects of low , leading to plaques and ultimately blockages in the arteries.

People often face conflicting salt recommendations. The negative effects of salt appear at the highest and lowest levels of consumption. In other words, sodium chloride intakes that are above and below the range of 2.5 to 5.8 grams (1.0 to 2.3 grams of sodium) per day are associated with increased .

"If an individual consumes close to their daily personal salt index, they are likely to avoid salt-related illness," said Dr. Pedro A. Jose of the University of Maryland, a co-investigator in Felder's salt-related research program. "However, additional research will be needed to determine how close one has to adhere to a personal salt index in order to maintain the best state of wellness."

Felder's research was based on a study population tested previously at U.Va. by Dr. Cynthia Schoeffel and Dr. Robert M. Carey, who evaluated how the kidney metabolizes salt and blood pressure in a population of 183 adult volunteers who agreed to follow a special diet of high salt for one week and very low salt for another week.

Felder's laboratory developed the diagnostic test based on living kidney cells found in urine. These cells metabolize sodium similarly to how an individual metabolizes sodium, yet they can be isolated and tested in less than a day using methods developed in Felder's lab.

"Ultimately we could see an instrument in a doctor's office that would allow the doctor to generate a personal salt index during a routine exam and provide meaningful counseling on how to adopt a salt-healthy lifestyle," said John Gildea, the lead author on the study and a research assistant professor of pathology at U.Va.

Explore further: America: Time to shake the salt habit?

Related Stories

America: Time to shake the salt habit?

March 28, 2013
The love affair between U.S. residents and salt is making us sick: high sodium intake increases blood pressure, and leads to higher rates of heart attack and strokes. Nonetheless, Americans continue to ingest far higher amounts ...

Too much salt may damage blood vessels, lead to high blood pressure

June 18, 2012
Eating a high-salt diet for several years may damage blood vessels — increasing your risk of developing high blood pressure, according to research reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. People ...

Otago research reveals most Kiwis eating too much salt

December 2, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Nearly two-thirds (65%) of adult New Zealanders are consuming more sodium than current nutrition guidelines recommend, according to analysis of urine samples taken from 3000 people who took part in the ...

Reducing salt and increasing potassium will have major global health benefits

April 4, 2013
Cutting down on salt and, at the same time, increasing levels of potassium in our diet will have major health and cost benefits across the world, according to studies published in BMJ today.

Recommended for you

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.