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Dietary potassium and magnesium may improve hypertension

September 13, 2011

According to a new Finnish study, substituting potassium and/or magnesium salts for regular salt may lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.

In the randomized controlled trial, 45 participants with high, mildly elevated and normal blood pressure consumed processed foods salted with either sodium chloride (100% NaCl) or a mix of sodium chloride (50%), potassium chloride (25%) and magnesium chloride (25%) over the course of 8 weeks (1). The participants’ blood pressure and blood samples were monitored regularly. Study results showed that the group consuming the mineral salt mix showed a significant decrease in systolic (7.5 ±10.1 mmHg) and diastolic (2.7 ± 4.5 mmHg) blood pressure in comparison to the participants using the regular salt.

The researchers concluded that replacing regular salt with a mineral salt low in sodium, high in potassium and high in magnesium may be a feasible way to reduce daily sodium intake, as well as the systolic blood pressure of people with high or mildly elevated blood pressure. The scientists said that supplementing a low sodium diet with potassium and magnesium may enhance the antihypertensive effect of a low sodium diet, thus making it potentially useful in treating hypertension. This may have a large impact on cardiovascular health at population level. Potassium promotes the excretion of sodium salts in the urine and magnesium intake may aid in lowering blood pressure by reducing vascular resistance.


Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and renal diseases. Reducing salt intake lowers blood pressure, consequently lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. A recently published analysis demonstrated that reducing salt by 3 g per day is projected to bring down the annual number of new CHD cases in the US from 180,000 to 120,000.

References

  1. Sarkkinen E. S. et al. Feasibility and antihypertensive effect of replacing regular salt with mineral salt rich in magnesium and potassium- in subjects with mildly elevated blood pressure. Nutrition Journal. 2011; 10:88.