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Potassium & Blood Pressure Follow-Up
12/23/2008
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Vital Choices reader Dr. Tom Laga prompted us to provide more guidance for healthy potassium intake
by Craig Weatherby


Two weeks ago, we ran a report about new evidence supporting prior indications that dietary potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure (see “
Want to Lower Your Blood Pressure? Go Bananas!”).

We neglected to say anything about the dose required, but then, neither did the study, which simply categorized people as having relatively low or high blood potassium levels.

Nonetheless, we think Dr. Tom Laga was right to critique our failure to discuss appropriate potassium intake, as he wrote in an email we edited to present here:

Dear Craig:

Whenever you write an article on a nutrient, always include the suggested dosage.

In a friendly way, I am hereby requesting that you immediately write an addendum and describe dosages from pills/tablets/capsules and perhaps combos.

For example, each evening at bedtime I take 200 mg magnesium and 100 mg potassium.

I also take a multi with potassium… so I get about 300 mg of potassium a day... and whenever I ingest a little more sodium than usual, I take extra potassium.

Holistically,
Dr. Tom Laga, PhD
Counselor/Coach/Consultant
Editor/Speaker/Trainer

Potassium in seafood
Most seafood, including our selection, is quite high in potassium in relation to other foods and to the US RDA (3,500 mg).

Milligrams per 100 gm/3.5 oz

Halibut – 576
King Salmon – 505
Sablefish – 459
Silver Salmon – 455
Sockeye Salmon – 375
Scallops – 355
Sardines – 341
Mackerel – 314 mg
Canned Sockeye – 288
King Crab – 262
Albacore Tuna – 237
Shrimp/Prawns – 182

How much potassium is enough?
Potassium is important to allow muscles to contract, for heart muscles to beat properly and, according to the new research we reported, to regulate blood pressure.

When potassium levels are low (hypokalemia), you can become weak as your cellular processes are impaired.

Almost one out of five people hospitalized in the United States has a low potassium level, and up to 14 percent of people seen in doctors’ offices have slightly low potassium levels.

It makes sense to take supplemental potassium, calcium (adult RDA = 1,000-1,200 mg), and magnesium (adult RDA = 320-420 mg), because multivitamin formulas can’t contain very much of these bulky, nutritionally complementary minerals.

Most of the foods rich in potassium are also high in magnesium.

The US RDA for potassium is 3,500 mg, and these foods are relatively potassium-rich. They contain 500-1,000 mg of potassium per 100 gram/3.5 oz servin – or much more, in the case of most herbs and spices, and some dried vegetables and fruits:
  • Dried fruits
  • Fresh fruits
  • Fruit juices
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Dried beans, peas
  • Meats and Seafood
  • Nuts
  • Cocoa
  • Herbs
  • Spices

Sources
  • USDA Nutrient Database at http://www.ars.usda.gov/main/site_main.htm?modecode=12354500 NutritionData.com at http://www.nutritiondata.com

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