Reducing Salt Intake While Simultaneously Increasing Potassium
Date: May. 1, 2013
According to new research presented by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), cutting down on salt while simultaneously increasing potassium intake has the potential to produce major health and cost-related benefits worldwide. When a surplus of sodium is ingested without an appropriate counterbalance of potassium, the excess sodium content pulls water into circulation increasing total blood volume, and consequently pressure exerted against major vascular structures. When this acute effect becomes chronic, we see the progression of major cardiovascular diseases with an increased risk for myocardial infarction or stroke due (in part) to vascular damage and hormonal changes. A great deal of current evidence demonstrates that reducing salt intake lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk for heart disease. As it relates to the potential benefits of increasing potassium intake less has been conclusively determined, although low potassium consumption has been linked to elevated blood pressure.
Due to current and previous investigations, the World Health Organization (WHO) has set a global objective to reduce dietary salt intake to 5-6 g (approximately one teaspoon) per person per day by the year 2025. The goal is to essentially reduce relative mean consumption among the adult population by 30%. The first study presented by the BMJ examined the effects of modest salt reduction on blood pressure, hormones, and blood lipids from 34 trials involving over 3,000 adults. It found a modest reduction in salt over the span of four or more weeks led to a significant reduction in blood pressure among individuals with both elevated and normal blood pressure values. These effects were demonstrated among various ethnic demographics. However, the researchers believe current recommendations "are not ideal" and say a further reduction to 3 g per day "should become the long term target for population salt intake." Similar results were found in a second analysis of 56 studies examining the relationship between blood pressure, blood lipids, catecholamine levels and/or renal function. The analysis showed that reduced salt intake lowers blood pressure and has no adverse effect on blood lipids, hormone levels or kidney function. Moderate quality evidence demonstrated the same positive effects among children. Lower sodium intake was also associated with a reduced risk of stroke and fatal coronary heart disease in adults. The authors concluded, "The totality of evidence suggests that reducing sodium intake should be part of public health efforts to reduce blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, and will likely benefit most individuals.” A third study analyzed data on potassium intake and measures of health from 33 trials involving over 128,000 healthy participants. The results showed that increased potassium intake in itself reduces blood pressure among adults with no adverse effects on blood lipids, hormone levels or kidney functions. Higher potassium intake was linked to a 24% lower risk of stroke among adults and may also have a beneficial effect on blood pressure in children, but more data is needed for this population. As mentioned initially, the research team suggested that there could be notable synergistic benefits if the potassium increase was combined with a simultaneous reduction in salt intake.
Source: Health Fitness News