Dietary calcium has a profound influence on the salt (sodium chloride) taste preferences of rats but does this finding translate to humans? The goal of this proposal is to assess the changes in taste preferences and food choices of humans given supplemental calcium to consume. The proposed study will involve two components: In the first component, the calcium intakes and other diet choices of ~500 subjects will be compared with their salty, sweet and calcium taste preferences. In the second component, a double-blind randomized placebo- controlled study will be conducted using ~120 Caucasian and African-American men and women with low chronic calcium intakes. Half the subjects in each group will consume a daily supplement of 1200 mg calcium + vitamin D for 12 weeks. Outcome measures will be psychophysical assessments of salty, sweet and calcium taste preferences, and food choice assessments made from diet records. This experiment will determine whether and when increasing calcium consumption influences (a) taste preferences, and (b) food choices. A rigorous demonstration of the phenomenon will set the stage for subsequent studies to elucidate the boundary conditions and physiological mechanisms involved. It will also highlight a novel and straightforward method to reduce some individual's avidity for salt, leading to the amelioration of hypertension and other chronic diseases that are exacerbated by salt overconsumption

Public Health Relevance

Dietary calcium has a profound influence on the avidity for salt in rats;here, we propose to determine whether this observation translates to humans. To do this, we will measure the change in salt preferences and food choices produced by giving people calcium supplements. A finding that consuming calcium reduces people's avidity for salt would point to a straightforward method to reduce salt consumption and thus ameliorate its associated diseases, such as hypertension.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Somatosensory and Chemosensory Systems Study Section (SCS)
Program Officer
Sullivan, Susan L
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Monell Chemical Senses Center
United States
Zip Code