Sodium, potassium, and other measures of control blood pressure reducing sodium always seem to be first on the google search as a fix. I have always looked at salt within the diet as worth it mostly because I have always looked at it from an athlete standpoint and not as often with normal health measures. The idea of ‘reducing sodium’ was not something I would look up because when it comes to athletics performance, “Salt consists of sodium and chloride, and is important for normal physiologic function. High sweat rates in athletes result in loss of both fluids and sodium. Fluid replacement with hypotonic solutions will lead to incomplete rehydration and possible complications such as hyponatremia, decreased performance, heat cramps, or other heat-related illness” (Valentine 2007).
This is where it is important to differ between the general public and athletics. Most people are not performing hours of workouts and trying to compete at the highest level possible. So the extra sodium (or salt) within their diets does not do what was listed above. In fact, it can be the opposite. “A high salt intake has been shown to increase not only blood pressure but also the risk of stroke, left ventricular hypertrophy, and proteinuria” (Frisoli 2012). Potassium also plays an important role within athletics and general health. “Potassium (K+) in skeletal muscle influence muscle cell function and are also important determinants of cardiovascular and respiratory function” (Lindinger 1991). Potassium supplementation can lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients ingesting normal amounts of sodium. “Potassium-induced reduction in BP [blood purssure]significantly lowers the incidence of stroke (cerebrovascular accident, CVA), coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, and other cardiovascular events. However, potassium also reduces the risk of CVA independent of BP reductions. Increasing consumption of potassium to 4.7 g per day predicts lower event rates for future cardiovascular disease, with estimated decreases of 8% to 15% in CVA and 6% to 11% in myocardial infarction” (Houston 2011).
However, if we are to look at which would be easier for most people, taking a vitamin pill with vitamin K (potassium) or eating less salt, most would probably just take the pill. Vitamin K toxicity is extremely rare (Imbrescia 2021), so it would be overall safe. However, most people consume too much salt in general. On average 9–12 grams per day, which is around twice the recommended maximum level of intake. “High sodium consumption (>2 grams/day, equivalent to 5 g salt/day) and insufficient potassium intake (less than 3.5 grams/day) contribute to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke” (2). With this, reducing sodium Intake should be very important. Along with increasing potassium. Seeing how very few people around the world get enough potassium (1). A banana has around 420mg in case someone says just eat more bananas. Supplements of potassium make this a lot easier, however, trying to eat more foods with Vitamin K is important in general for health. As they tend to be good for the body overall.
Some other ways to help with high blood pressure would be:
- Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline (the belly). Being verweight and obese affects blood pressure (Mertens 2000).
- Exercise regularly (Kokkinos 2000) and 10 minute walks three times a day or a 30 minutes once a day (Serwe 2002)
- Limit your alcohol (Tasnim 2020)
- Quit smoking (Madika 2017)
- Reduce caffeine (Mesas 2011)
- Work on your stress levels (Kulkarni 1998)
- “Getting Enough Potassium.” Getting Enough Potassium | Michigan Medicine, www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tv7855.
- “Salt Reduction.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/salt-reduction.
- Frisoli TM, Schmieder RE, Grodzicki T, Messerli FH. Salt and hypertension: is salt dietary reduction worth the effort? Am J Med. 2012 May;125(5):433-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2011.10.023. Erratum in: Am J Med. 2012 Oct;125(10):e27. PMID: 22482843.
- Kokkinos PF, Papademetriou V. Exercise and hypertension. Coron Artery Dis. 2000 Mar;11(2):99-102. doi: 10.1097/00019501-200003000-00002. PMID: 10758809.
- Kulkarni S, O’Farrell I, Erasi M, Kochar MS. Stress and hypertension. WMJ. 1998 Dec;97(11):34-8. PMID: 9894438.
- Imbrescia K, Moszczynski Z. Vitamin K. [Updated 2021 Jul 13]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551578/
- Houston MC. The importance of potassium in managing hypertension. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2011 Aug;13(4):309-17. doi: 10.1007/s11906-011-0197-8. PMID: 21403995.
- Madika AL, Mounier-Vehier C. Tabac et pression artérielle : une relation complexe à mieux connaître [Smoking and blood pressure: A complex relationship]. Presse Med. 2017 Jul-Aug;46(7-8 Pt 1):697-702. French. doi: 10.1016/j.lpm.2017.07.001. Epub 2017 Jul 29. PMID: 28760595.
- Mertens IL, Van Gaal LF. Overweight, obesity, and blood pressure: the effects of modest weight reduction. Obes Res. 2000 May;8(3):270-8. doi: 10.1038/oby.2000.32. PMID: 10832771.
- Mesas AE, Leon-Muñoz LM, Rodriguez-Artalejo F, Lopez-Garcia E. The effect of coffee on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in hypertensive individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Oct;94(4):1113-26. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.016667. Epub 2011 Aug 31. PMID: 21880846.
- Lindinger MI, Sjøgaard G. Potassium regulation during exercise and recovery. Sports Med. 1991 Jun;11(6):382-401. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199111060-00004. PMID: 1656509.
- Serwe, K. M., Swartz, A. M., Hart, T. L., & Strath, S. J. (2011). Effectiveness of long and short bout walking on increasing physical activity in women. Journal of women’s health (2002), 20(2), 247–253. https://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2010.2019
- Tasnim S, Tang C, Musini VM, Wright JM. Effect of alcohol on blood pressure. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020 Jul 1;7(7):CD012787. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD012787.pub2. PMID: 32609894; PMCID: PMC8130994.
- Valentine V. The importance of salt in the athlete’s diet. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2007 Jul;6(4):237-40. PMID: 17617999.
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