Sodium Associated with Lower Bone Density in Young Women


Higher urinary sodium, a proxy for intake, is associated with increased calcium excretion and lower hip bone density in healthy young women with lower calcium intakes.

We assessed 24-h urinary sodium (Na) and its relationship with urinary calcium (Ca) and areal bone mineral density (aBMD) at the whole body, lumbar spine and total hip in a cross-sectional study. 102 healthy non-obese women completed timed 24-h urine collections which were analyzed for Na and Ca. Dietary intakes were estimated using a validated food frequency questionnaire. Participants were grouped as those with lower vs. higher calcium intake by median split (506 mg/1000 kcal). Dietary Na intake correlated with 24-h urinary loss. Urinary Na correlated positively with urinary Ca for all participants (r = 0.29, p < 0.01) and among those with lower (r = 0.37, p < 0.01) but not higher calcium intakes (r = 0.19, p = 0.19). Urinary Na was inversely associated with hip aBMD for all participants (r = -0.21, p = 0.04) and among women with lower (r = -0.36, p < 0.01) but not higher (r = -0.05, p = 0.71) calcium intakes. Urinary Na also entered a regression equation for hip aBMD in women with lower Ca intakes, contributing 5.9% to explained variance. In conclusion, 24-h urinary Na (a proxy for intake) is associated with higher urinary Ca loss in young women and may affect aBMD, particularly in those with lower calcium intakes.

Bedford JL, Barr SI
Nutrients Nov 2011
PMID: 22254088 | Free Full Text

The potential implications of sodium-induced calciuria for bone are likely to be more serious in those with low calcium intakes, who may be unable to increase calcium absorption to fully compensate for increased urinary losses. For example, Heaney [3] noted that to offset the average urinary calcium loss of 1 mmol (40 mg) associated with an increased sodium intake of 100 mmol (2300 mg), gross calcium absorption efficiency would need to increase to 34% (from 25%) in those with intakes of 600 mg/day, and to about 50% (from 37%) in those with intakes of 300 mg/day-and that this may not be possible. However, at intakes of 1200 mg/day, absorption efficiency would only need to increase from to 23% (from 20%) [3]. Empirical support for the idea that high calcium intakes may protect against high sodium intakes is provided by the study of Ilich et al. [20]. In a 3-year prospective study, postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to maintain usual sodium intake of about 3000 mg/day or to reduce intake to 1500 mg/day. All women also received calcium supplements, and total calcium intake averaged over 1300 mg/day. Because compliance with the sodium intervention was not high, results were reported by tertile of observed urinary sodium excretion rather than by initial group assignment. No negative associations between urinary sodium and bone density were observed [20]. This suggests that, at least in postmenopausal women with high calcium intakes, sodium intake does not adversely affect bone.