Harvard Heart Letter

Potassium and sodium out of balance

Too little potassium and too much sodium is bad for the heart and general health.

Potassium and sodium. In the pantheon of classic partners, they aren't quite up there with Abbott and Costello, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, and John, George, Paul, and Ringo. They should be. Potassium and sodium together play a huge role in regulating blood pressure, and mounting evidence shows they are intimately involved in bone health.

Research and dietary recommendations tend to focus on one or the other, usually sodium. That's a mistake, since these two elements go hand in hand. And the huge imbalance of this duo in the average American diet requires action on two fronts: getting more potassium and less sodium.

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