Potassium Reduces Stroke Risk & High Blood Pressure

  • Tara Andresen

Categories: Naturopath Toronto


Reduce High Blood Pressure and Stroke Risks with Potassium

Most North Americans are consuming potassium –deficient diets. Research in the US has shown that only 2% of the American population consumes a diet that achieves the recommended daily intake of potassium.  The recommended daily amount is 4700mg but most people barely get 3,000mg and most get much less than this.  But why is this a problem?  Let’s take a closer look.

Every cell in the body needs potassium to work but we cannot produce potassium, it must be consumed through food.  Potassium plays an essential role in many physiological functions, including nerve impulse transmission, heart muscle contraction, skeletal muscle contraction, gastric secretion, kidney function, tissue synthesis and carbohydrate synthesis. It works with other minerals to preserve the acid-alkali balance in the body.

Cardiovascular Disease – Decreased Stroke Risk and High Blood Pressure Levels

Potassium is critical for the maintenance of cardiovascular health.  Your body needs potassium to control the electrolyte balance of your heart as well as metabolize carbohydrates and build muscle.  Low potassium can cause muscle weakness and heart rhythm disturbances.

A recent meta-analysis in the Journal of the American Heart Association looking at potassium intake and the risk of stroke found that an intake of 3500mg/day of potassium is associated with lower stroke risk. In addition, a recent meta-analysis in the International Journal of Cardiology reviewed studies on the relationship between potassium and high blood pressure. They found that supplementation with potassium through food and/or supplements was correlated with a decrease in blood pressure in people with un-medicated hypertension.

Kidney Stone Prevention

Potassium citrate is one of a number of citrate minerals that can prevent kidney stones. A 2016 study in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that diets high in a relative abundance of potassium compared with animal protein could represent a means of kidney stone prevention.  In addition, a 2015 Cochrane Systematic Review concluded potassium citrate and other citrates prevents new stone formation and reduce further stone growth in patients with residual stones that predominantly contain oxalate.  Potassium citrate binds to calcium and inhibits the crystallisation thus reduces stone formation.

Osteoporosis Prevention

Potassium is important for bone health. A 2015 randomized double blind clinical trial found that potassium citrate supplementation decreases bone reabsorption in postmenopausal women with osteopenia.

Conditions and Medications That Cause Low Potassium

Certain conditions cause excess potassium excretion.  Excessive sweating, urination or diarrhea are common causes along with caffeine intake.  There are also a number of medications that deplete potassium including diuretics, laxatives, decongestants, bronchodilators, corticosteroids and high dose antibiotics.

Improving Potassium Intake

Potassium citrate can be taken in recommended doses to support potassium levels but ideally food sources should be the focus.  Plant foods are the primary sources of potassium. Trying to have 5 cups of vegetables and 4 servings of fruit is a good start.  Vegetables and fruit that top the list include: Cantaloupe; Bananas; Oranges; Apricots; Avocado; Strawberries; Potatoes; Tomatoes; Cucumber and Cabbage.

To find out more about the benefits of potassium intake, book your appointment with Dr. Andresen at one of her Toronto Naturopathic Clinics.