By Dr Mercola

The results were published in two articles: “Association of Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion with Blood Pressure”12 and “Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion, Mortality, and Cardiovascular Events.”13

I’ve discussed the importance of getting these two nutrients—sodium and potassium—in the appropriate ratios before, and I’ll review it again in just a moment.

In this study, those with the lowest risk for heart problems or death from any cause were consuming three to six grams of sodium a day—far more than US daily recommended limits.

Not only did more than six grams of sodium a day raise the risk for heart disease, so did levels lower than three grams per day. In short, while there is a relationship between sodium and blood pressure, it’s not a linear relationship.14As noted by the Associated Press:15

“‘These are now the best data available,’ Dr. Brian Strom said of the new study. Strom, the chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, led an Institute of Medicine panel last year that found little evidence to support very low sodium levels.

“‘Too-high sodium is bad. Too low also may be bad, and sodium isn’t the whole story,’ Strom said. ‘People should go for moderation.’

The authors propose an alternative approach; instead of recommending aggressive sodium reduction across the board, it might be wiser to recommend high-quality diets rich in potassium instead. This, they surmise, might achieve greater public health benefits, including blood-pressure reduction.

As noted by one of the researchers, Dr. Martin O’Donnell16 of McMaster University, “Potatoes, bananas, avocados, leafy greens, nuts, apricots, salmon, and mushrooms are high in potassium, and it’s easier for people to add things to their diet than to take away something like salt.”

So, how do you ensure you get these two important nutrients in more appropriate ratios?

  • First, ditch all processed foods, which are very high in processed salt and low in potassium and other essential nutrients
  • Eat a diet of whole, unprocessed foods, ideally organically and locally-grown to ensure optimal nutrient content. This type of diet will naturally provide much larger amounts of potassium in relation to sodium
  • When using added salt, use a natural salt. I believe Himalayan salt may be the most ideal, as it contains lower sodium and higher potassium levels compared to other salts

I do not recommend taking potassium supplements to correct a sodium-potassium imbalance. Instead, it is best to simply alter your diet and incorporate more potassium-rich whole foods. Green vegetable juicing is an excellent way to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients for optimal health, including about 300-400 mg of potassium per cup. By removing the fiber you can consume even larger volumes of important naturally occurring potassium. Some additional rich sources in potassium are:

  • Lima beans (955 mg/cup)
  • Winter squash (896 mg/cup)
  • Cooked spinach (839 mg/cup)
  • Avocado  (500 mg per medium)

Other potassium-rich fruits and vegetables include:

  • Fruits: papayas, prunes, cantaloupe, and bananas. (But be careful of bananas as they are high in sugar and have half the potassium that an equivalent of amount of green vegetables. It is an old wives’ tale that you are getting loads of potassium from bananas; the potassium is twice as high in green vegetables)
  • Vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, avocados, asparagus, and pumpkin
  • ————-

Connie’s comments: My 80-yr old mom has been experiencing hypotension. She is taking an anti-hypertensive med, been over fatigued, drinks wine at night and has not been eating potassium rich foods.



To study the association between postural hypotension and (i) electrolyte levels and (ii) neurohumoral factors in elderly hypertensive patients using diuretics.


Cross-sectional study of patients and controls.


The subjects were gathered from senior citizen clubs or they were referred to the study by general practitioners. The subjects were examined on a geriatric ward in Turku City Hospital.


Seven subjects with postural hypotension and 13 controls.


Plasma electrolyte levels and neurohumoral response to head-up tilt.


There were significantly more hypokalaemic subjects in the postural hypotension group (5/7) than in the control group (1/13) (P < 0.01). The plasma potassium level was negatively correlated to plasma aldosterone (r = -0.57; P < 0.01) and renin activity (r = -0.69; P < 0.001). Subjects with postural hypotension had higher levels of noradrenaline, both supine (P < 0.05) and during tilt (P < 0.05). There were no significant differences in supine or tilt levels of plasma adrenaline, vasopressin, atrial natriuretic peptide, aldosterone and renin activity between the groups.


The results suggest that potassium depletion is associated with postural hypotension in elderly hypertensive patients using diuretics. However, it is unclear whether there is a causative link between potassium depletion and postural hypotension or whether they are both caused by some other factor, e.g. volume contraction.