Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Potassium :Build Muscle, Lower Blood Pressure & More

RealAge says that

"A diet heavy in proteins and cereal grains can cause blood to become too acidic. When this happens, muscle tissue can waste away.
Fruits and vegetables, though, make your body's pH more alkaline -- mostly thanks to their high potassium content.
So it makes sense that people in a recent study who loaded up on potassium-rich produce had more lean muscle mass than their produce-shirking peers."

So whats the deal on Potassium

Potassium supplements have been found useful for the typical person with borderline or elevated blood pressure in many small scale studies. The large majority of such patients do not get enough potassium in their diets and consume far too much sodium, which potassium helps to offset. Potassium could be of major benefit for the treatment of high blood pressure due to its low cost and low side-effects.

People on healthy diets of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, lentils, etc and without high blood pressure appear not to benefit from a potassium supplement.

The ideal amount of a supplement to take appears to be 1000-2000 mg of extra potassium per day (about 25-50 mmol or millimols). The average person consumes 50-100 mEq (milliEquivalents) per day or 2000 to 4000 mg. Simply drinking two glasses of orange juice daily adds about 1000 mg potassium), which was actually found to decrease blood pressure somewhat in just two weeks. No Salt salt substitute, which is mainly potassium chloride, is an easy way to add potassium to your diet. One-half to three-quarters of a teaspoon added to your food each day will provide the recommended 2000 mg. It gives a mildly salty flavor.

Potassium not only lowers blood pressure and cuts the number of deaths from stroke, but also improves bone density the opposite effect from sodium., Avoiding salt or at least getting 1000-2000 mg of added potassium is very good for treating and for avoiding osteoporosis. Potassium is also thought to help avoid some types of kidney stones. Patients on diuretics or with kidney disease should use potassium supplements only under physician supervision since kidney disease can cause potassium levels to get too high.

Other points of note from various studies:

Potassium Helps Blood Pressure in Those Not Restricting Sodium:
Potassium decreased systolic 3.11 mmHg and diastolic 1.97mmHg in 300 women. It's impact appears to increase the longer individuals remain on the supplement. It helps those with high sodium intake especially.
However, it is of benefit for those women with low intakes of potassium earlier.

Potassium Found Highly Protective in Scottish:
11,300 followed for 8 years. Smoking, HBP (especially systolic), and fibrinogen found to be other important risk factors for mortality. Potassium measured in urine was strongly protective. Inactivity, both leisure and at work, were associated with higher mortality.
Modest alcohol intake was protective against heart disease. Height was protective. Weight, like alcohol, showed a U-shaped mortality curve. Lower salt excretion and early menopause very weakly associated with higher mortality.

Low Potassium Linked to 50% Higher Stroke Risk:
5600 elderly >65yo followed 4-8 years. Those on diuretics and who had low serum potassium (< 4.1 mEq/L) or low intake (< 2.4g/d) had RR 2.5 for stroke (p<.0001). Those not on diuretics but low potassium RR 1.5 (p<.005). Serum potassium level and dietary potassium intake as risk factors for stroke.

Potassium Supplements Lower Stroke: A Harvard study with 8 years of follow-up of men taking potassium supplements during the first 2 yr found 69% fewer strokes with the supplements. Men in highest potassium intake (4.3 g or 9 serving fruits & vegetable) had 38% fewer strokes than lowest intake (2.4 g or 4 servings).

Potassium baking powder at a few health food store, is potassium bicarbonate which some research says works better than potassium chloride. It also helps you avoid the sodium in regular baking powder.
Two cups orange juice gives you about 1000 mg of potassium or half of what the doctor writing this article would recommended as a daily supplement for most people.

Excessive levels are rare if kidneys are working normally. However, in chronic renal failure, systemic acidosis, acute dehydration, extensive burns, adrenal insufficiency or with a potassium sparing diuretic medication such as spironolactone, triamterene, or amiloride, there is a danger of overdosage.

Other facts

Potassium Protects Against Bone Loss: The addition of oral potassium citrate to a high-salt diet prevented the increased excretion of urine calcium and the bone resorption marker caused by a high salt intake. Increased intake of dietary sources of potassium alkaline salts, namely fruit and vegetables, may be beneficial for postmenopausal women at risk for osteoporosis, particularly those consuming a diet generous in sodium chloride. Potassium citrate prevents increased urine calcium excretion and bone resorption induced by a high sodium chloride diet.

Potassium Bicarbonate Stops Calcium Loss:

Low Potassium Blood Level Dangerous, Not High Potassium:

Low and High Potassium Blood Levels are Risks

Thomas E. Radecki, M.D., J.D.


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