Role of Dietary Sodium in Osteoporosis

Robert P. Heaney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


Sodium, in the form of sodium chloride, elevates urinary calcium excretion and, at prevailing calcium intakes, evokes compensatory responses that may lead to increased bone remodeling and bone loss. The calciuria is partly due to salt-induced volume expansion, with an increase in GFR, and partly to competition between sodium and calcium ions in the renal tubule. Potassium intakes in the range of current recommendations actually reduce or prevent sodium chloride-induced calciuria. At calcium intakes at or above currently recommended levels, there appear to be no deleterious effects of prevailing salt intakes on bone or the calcium economy, mainly because adaptive increases in calcium absorption offset the increased urinary loss. Such compensation is likely to be incomplete at low calcium intakes. Limited evidence suggests equivalent bone-sparing effects of either salt restriction or augmented calcium intakes. Given the relative difficulty of the former, and the ancillary benefits of the latter, it would seem that the optimal strategy to protect the skeleton is to ensure adequate calcium and potassium intakes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271S-276S
JournalJournal of the American College of Nutrition
StatePublished - Jun 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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