A data base of the National Center for Health Statistics, Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I (HANES I), was used to perform a computer-assisted, comprehensive analysis of the relation of 17 nutrients to the blood pressure profile of adult Americans. Subjects were 10,372 individuals, 18 to 74 years of age, who denied a history of hypertension and intentional modification of their diet. Significant decreases in the consumption of calcium, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C were identified as the nutritional factors that distinguished hypertensive from normotensive subjects. Lower calcium intake was the most consistent factor in hypertensive individuals. Across the population, higher intakes of calcium, potassium, and sodium were associated with lower mean systolic blood pressure and lower absolute risk of hypertension. Increments of dietary calcium were also negatively correlated with body mass. Even though these correlations cannot be accepted as proof of causation, they have implications for future studies of the association of nutritional factors and dietary patterns with hypertension in America.
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