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Potassium for Bone Health

New results from a randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial show that use of potassium supplements can help to boost bone mineral density and microarchitecture of bones in healthy older people.

In addition to supplementation with calcium and vitamin D, the research team found that those receiving the potassium had significantly increased bone mineral density and microarchitecture at a number of sites, including the lumbar spine.

While the benefits of potassium on blood pressure are well-established, this  new study offers an insight into the protective effects of potassium also on bone health. There are various mechanisms of how potassium can have this effect, but immediately, my thought was that potassium helps the body retain magnesium (which may also contribute to its blood pressure benefits). Magnesium is essential for proper bone health (and one of the best minerals you can take for cardiovascular health), and happens to be a mineral most people don't consume enough of.

By ensuring the body is supplied with sufficient potassium, it may help maintain magnesium levels, and if people aren't consuming enough magnesium, retaining even just a tiny bit more can potentially have great benefits.

This would be especially true for this study, where the participants were consuming calcium and vitamin D (since unbalanced calcium intake can promote a "relative deficiency" of magnesium). Ensuring a proper balance of calcium and magnesium in the body is important for many more aspect of health besides bone health.

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Source: Effect of Potassium Citrate on Bone Density, Microarchitecture, and Fracture Risk in Healthy Older Adults without Osteoporosis: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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  1. Hi Dr. Know,

    Interesting article on potassium especially the point you make about how it helps the body retain magnesium. I knew it was one important factor in bone health but not for this reason.

    I try and keep my calcium to magnesium ratio 1:1 (as well as supplementing with Vitamin K-2 (MK7), Vitamin D-3 and a boron complex) and have not been taking any potassium supplements. I have been relying on fruits and veggies in that area but am now rethinking that sole approach. Any ideas on a daily minimum dose and what form is most bioavailable and bioabsorbable? Thanks.

    1. I don't think supplementing with potassium is necessary for most people. It's abundant in many common foods. If a natural health product contains potassium as an adjunct or complementary ingredient, that's a nice-to-have, but buying a potassium supplement (alone) probably the best spend of your money.

      Just be aware that some people have an increased need for potassium (e.g. those taking certain diuretics for hypertension), while others should minimize it (e.g. those on dialysis).

      Here are some foods high in potassium:
      whte beans
      dark leafy greens (like spinach)
      baked potatoes (with skin)
      fish (e.g. salmon, halibut, anchovies, mackerel)
      dark chocolate
      some nuts (e.g. chestnuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts)
      some seeds (e.g. pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)
      coconut water
      orange juice

      Hope this helps!

    2. Well, I think I have my potassium needs covered without additional supplementation after looking at the list you were kind enough to provide. My diet is pretty much plant and low-fat, dairy based.
      Thanks for the information.


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