Harvard Health Letter

Watch your K rations

Getting more potassium may help control blood pressure, but some medications make potassium a problem.

Even friendly advice about nutrition can sound like nagging these days because there are so many recommendations about what to eat and not eat.

But we'll run that risk to discuss potassium — identified in the table of chemical elements by the letter K. Many Americans aren't getting enough of it. Even moderate deficiency increases the risk for kidney stones and weakened bones. Potassium also helps control blood pressure by offsetting the effects of sodium — and today's snack-eating habits have loaded up our diets with sodium. Some studies report links between high potassium intake and reduced risk for stroke (a hazard of high blood pressure). A push to increase potassium intake might particularly benefit African Americans, who are disproportionately affected by high blood pressure and stroke.

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