SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA. There is ample evidence that a high salt diet contributes significantly to the bone loss experienced by postmenopausal women. Sodium chloride (salt) accelerates the loss of calcium in the urine ultimately leading to osteoporosis and hip fractures. Researchers at the University of California now report that potassium citrate neutralizes this effect of a high salt diet.
Their clinical trial involved 52 postmenopausal women who were maintained on a low sodium diet (87 mmol/day sodium [2000 mg/day]) for three weeks and then switched to either a high salt diet (225 mmol/day sodium) + placebo or the high salt diet + 90 mmol/day of potassium citrate for another four weeks. Urine calcium excretion, urine N-telopeptide, and serum osteocalcin levels were measured at the beginning and end of the experiment. N-telopeptide is a measure of bone loss and serum osteocalcin provides an indication of bone formation. After four weeks on the high salt + placebo diet urinary calcium excretion had increased by 42 mg/day compared to a decrease of 8 mg/day in the high salt + potassium citrate diet. N- telopeptide level in the high salt + placebo diet increased by 6.4 as compared to an increase of only 2.0 in the potassium citrate group. Osteocalcin levels were not significantly different between the two groups.
The researchers conclude that the addition of potassium citrate to a high salt diet prevents the increased
calcium loss and bone turnover caused by the high salt diet. They estimate that the amount of potassium
citrate used in the experiment can be obtained by consuming 7 to 8 servings of potassium-rich fruits and
vegetables each day. They also point out that alkaline salts of potassium reduce internal acid production
and increase blood pH and plasma bicarbonate concentration.