Potassium Salts Help Strengthen Bone Health


Supplementation with alkaline potassium salts aids bone health and reduces osteoporosis risk.

Supplementation with alkaline potassium salts aids bone health and reduces osteoporosis risk, according to research findings published in Osteoporosis International on January 9, 2015.

“The importance of alkali-producing foods in our diets is still controversial,” lead author Helen Lambert, DPhil, MA, told Pharmacy Times. “Our present ‘Western’ diets tend to produce an excess of acid in our bodies, and this is thought to be bad for bones, leading to an increase in bone breakdown.”

Dr. Lambert explained that fruits and vegetables produce alkali when they are metabolized by the body and are important for balancing bone resorption and bone formation. If individuals don’t consume enough of those foods, however, then that balance cannot be maintained.

For their meta-analysis, Dr. Lambert and her co-authors reviewed 14 studies to test their hypothesis that potassium bicarbonate (KHCO3) and potassium citrate (KCitr) conserve bone mineral.

Across those studies, urinary calcium excretion was significantly reduced by an intervention with KHCO3 and KCitr supplementation. The review authors also found reduced net acid excretion (NAE) with both potassium salts.

“The novel finding was that these salts also reduced markers of bone resorption,” Dr. Lambert stated. “This means that they are actually preventing bone breakdown, which is really important, as it is this bone breakdown which causes bones to weaken and fracture.”

However, the potassium salts had no effect on bone formation markers or bone mineral density. Still, KHCO3 and KCitr supplementation reduced calcium excretion to a greater extent than potassium chloride.

“Whilst we would not advise that people take pharmaceutical potassium salts, we would strongly recommend increasing intakes of fruit and vegetables as a means of providing these salts (or their precursors) in the diet,” Dr. Lambert said.

Although there is no clinical research to quantify portions as they relate to bone health, Dr. Lambert estimated that roughly 9 daily servings of fruit and vegetables could have a significant impact on bone health, and she noted that pharmacists could “give patients this important dietary advice at every stage of life in order to prevent bone breakdown and osteoporosis.”

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