Diet, supplement use, and hypertension in firefighters

Christopher M Kaipust, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Dietary intake and supplement use among US firefighters has never been described. Diet is an important risk factor for hypertension and cardiovascular disease, both highly prevalent among firefighters. The intake of calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium from food and dietary supplements (both over the counter and prescribed) is associated with hypertension in clinical and observational studies. Secondary data from the Fuel 2 Fight study was used to determine the type and prevalence of dietary supplement consumption among US male, career firefighters in 2011-2012. The Fuel 2 Fight cohort is compromised of career firefighters across the United States. The average age of the cohort is 39 years old and over 80% are overweight or obese. Mean mineral intakes and the proportion of firefighters who met USDA dietary guidelines for the intake of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium in supplement nonusers and users, using diet only and diet combined with supplements, respectively, was calculated. The association between systolic blood pressure and intake of calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium, each, from diet and supplements was calculated using a multivariable linear regression. The prevalence of taking at least one dietary supplement among male firefighters was 55.2%. The most commonly used dietary supplements were bodybuilding and multivitamin-mineral supplements. More than half of firefighters had diets not meeting the USDA recommended intakes for the selected minerals. Dietary supplement users consumed significantly more calcium and magnesium from food alone than non-dietary supplement users. In addition, dietary supplement users consumed significantly more calcium, magnesium and potassium from food plus supplements than non-supplement users. Significantly more dietary supplement users diets met the USDA recommended daily allowance from food alone for calcium and food plus supplements for calcium and magnesium than non-dietary supplement users. However, more non-dietary supplement users achieved a diet low in sodium than did dietary supplement users. After adjusting for energy intake, age, race, BMI, and antihypertensive medication use, systolic blood pressure was not linearly associated with calcium, magnesium, sodium, nor potassium from diet only or diet plus supplements in either supplement users or nonusers. Results from this study suggest calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium may not be as important to systolic blood pressure regulation in firefighters as once thought.

Subject Area

Occupational health|Nutrition|Public health|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Kaipust, Christopher M, "Diet, supplement use, and hypertension in firefighters" (2014). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1569937.