OPINION

Why potassium benefits outweigh the risks

By Judy Buttriss

- Last updated on GMT

Professor Buttriss: ‘Concern has existed about the risk for people with undiagnosed kidney disease’
Professor Buttriss: ‘Concern has existed about the risk for people with undiagnosed kidney disease’

Related tags: Potassium, Salt

Recommendations from government advisors on the use of potassium salts in place of sodium chloride (salt) was published in November.

Use of potassium salts is a strategy in circumstances where sodium reduction alone would be difficult or impossible, but concern has existed about the risk for people with undiagnosed kidney disease.

The potential benefits were found to outweigh the risks for the general population.

Modelling involved partial substitution of sodium salts in a range of widely eaten foods, with potassium equivalents (potassium chloride, carbonate or bicarbonate).

Substitution at the level of 25%

Substitution in the modelling was at the level of 25% except for bread, where it was 15%.

As well as a fall in sodium intakes, the analysis identified improved potassium intakes across the population, meaning that prevalence of low potassium intakes would fall, for example, from 19% to 7% in adults aged 19 to 49.

Also predicted are improvements in blood pressure and stroke incidence, and bone health benefits.

Advisors recommended that government should encourage food firms to explore use of these potassium salts as substitutes for sodium salts, thus providing another way of meeting salt reduction targets.

  • Professor Judy Buttriss is director general of the British Nutrition Foundation

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