Using Potassium Supplements to Battle Hypertension
About 75 million Americans, or 1 in 3, are presently diagnosed with high blood pressure. If that is not shocking enough, approximately 700 million blood pressure prescriptions are written, each year. Unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical activity are the most common denominators when it comes to the reason behind these statistics, which means that hypertension is quite preventable with slight changes to one’s lifestyle.
Typically, doctors like to think of resorting to medications as the last resort, but when a person’s blood pressure is too high to effectively manage with diet and exercise, alone, prescriptions are necessary. For those that are pre-hypertensive, that is, with blood pressure readings between 120/80 – 139/90 mmHg, potassium supplementation, along with eating a healthier diet and increasing physical activity, one may be able to decrease their blood pressure readings.
In a recent study (“Oral potassium supplementation for management of essential hypertension: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled traits”. J. Poorolajal, F. Zaraati, A.R. Soltanian, V. Sheikh, E. Hooshmand, A. Maleki. PLOS ONE, April 18, 2017), 23 articles about potassium supplementation and hypertension were analyzed, which involved a total of 1,213 participants and lasted a minimum of four weeks.
Researchers looked at the pre- and post-trial data, and what they found was that potassium supplementation decreased both systolic blood pressure (this is the first number you would see in blood pressure readings, which indicates the pressure readings as blood is being pumped out of the heart) and diastolic blood pressure (the second number and pressure reading as blood returns to the heart). Additionally, negative side effects were few (45 out of the 1,213 participants), mostly with slight digestive complications, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and abdominal pain.
While results differed between the studies because of factors related to the length of the study (some were just four weeks long, while others lasted a full year) and participant characteristics (age, gender, diagnostics, weight, etc.), but the general data indicated a positive relationship between taking potassium supplements and lowering blood pressure. For individuals interested in taking these supplements for their own health, it is advised to discuss this with your doctor. Also, remember that more does not necessarily mean better, which is why speaking with your doctor is always recommended.