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High Sodium Intake Does Not Appear to Raise BP in Teen Girls

But higher potassium intakes inversely associated with blood pressure change throughout adolescence

TUESDAY, April 28, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Consuming higher-than-recommended amounts of salt appears to have no ill effect on teenage girls' blood pressure, according to new research published online April 27 in JAMA Pediatrics.

The study findings contradict current salt guidelines, study lead author Lynn Moore, D.Sc., M.P.H., an associate professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, told HealthDay. "The current official Dietary Guidelines for Americans say that salt intake after the age of 2 years should be limited to no more than 2,300 mg per day," she said. "Actual intake levels are much higher, with most Americans consuming close to 3,500 mg per day."

Moore and colleagues looked at the long-term effects of salt and potassium on blood pressure among 2,185 girls ages 9 to 10 who took part in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Growth and Health Study. Food consumption was based on self-reporting, and blood pressure was measured annually for 10 years. "For both blacks and whites, girls who consumed as much as 4,000 mg of salt per day or more had the same blood pressure levels as those consuming less than 2,500 mg per day," Moore said. Higher potassium intakes were inversely associated with blood pressure change throughout adolescence (P < 0.001 for systolic and diastolic) and at the end of the follow-up period (P = 0.02 and 0.05 for systolic and diastolic, respectively).

"The beneficial effects of dietary potassium on both systolic and diastolic blood pressures suggest that consuming more potassium-rich foods during childhood may help suppress the adolescent increase in blood pressure," the authors write.

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