Potassium and High Blood Pressure
What do high blood pressure and potassium have to do with each other? Research on high blood pressure has shown that potassium lowers blood pressure levels. Good sources include certain fruits, vegetables, milk, and fish. Most healthcare providers recommend a diet rich in this mineral to lower blood pressure or to prevent hypertension.
Blood pressure (also known as hypertension) can be unhealthy, even if it stays only slightly above the normal level of less than 120/80 mmHg. The higher that blood pressure rises above normal, the greater the health risk (see Effects of High Blood Pressure).
In the past, hypertension research scientists tried to find clues about what in the diet affects blood pressure by testing various possible supplements as treatments for high blood pressure, such as:
- Various herbs
- Other "natural" products.
So far, research has shown that potassium does lower blood pressure. Studies have not found that other supplements, however, do anything to lower blood pressure.
The recommended intake of potassium for adolescents and adults is 4700 mg/day. Recommended intakes for children include:
- 1 to 3 years of age -- 3000 mg/day
- 4 to 8 years of age -- 3800 mg/day
- 9 to 13 years of age -- 4500 mg/day.
Some individuals tend to be more salt-sensitive than others, including:
- People with hypertension
- African Americans
- Middle-aged and older adults.
Because African Americans commonly have a relatively low intake of potassium and a high occurrence of elevated blood pressure and salt sensitivity, this population subgroup may especially benefit from an increased dietary intake of potassium.