Potassium's Relationship with Sodium and Public Health
Potassium works hand in hand with sodium.
Potassium is an essential mineral present in all body tissues and required for the body cells to function normally. Potassium works hand in hand with sodium, another essential mineral that helps keep body fluids, such as blood, in balance. In turn, insufficient potassium consumption may increase a person’s risk for a variety of health risks, including hypertension and stroke, especially when combined with high-sodium consumption.
Adequate intake (AI) for potassium for healthy adults is 4,700 milligrams (mg) daily, as established by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The AI for potassium was raised from 3,500 mg to 4,700 mg in response to more recent scientific evidence that indicates adequate potassium should help lower blood pressure, blunt the effects of salt on blood pressure, reduce risk of kidney stone formation and possibly help reduce bone loss—when the potassium primarily comes from natural sources such as in fruits and vegetables. In addition, the IOM is re-evaluating the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for potassium, and expects to release a new report with its findings in 2019.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will require potassium to be listed on the Nutrition Facts panel by January 2020. Nutrition Facts panels will also contain an updated Daily Value (DV) for potassium of 4,700 mg, although food manufacturers have the option to implement the new Nutrition Facts format on their food labels now. Food products that provide at least 20 percent of the DV for potassium on a per serving or reference amounts customarily consumed (RACC) basis, may qualify for an “excellent source” of potassium label claim.
Current research, though, has shown that Americans consume substantially less potassium than is recommended, which is why the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans lists potassium as a “nutrient of public health concern.” The average daily potassium intake from foods is estimated to be 3,016 mg for men and 2,320 mg for women (both, ages 20 years and over), according to data from the 2013–2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
To help food and beverage manufacturers increase potassium and lower sodium in their foods, Cargill offers a wide variety of potassium-based products to meet consumers’ desires. For example, Potassium Pro® Potassium Chloride is a go-to-solution for developing lower sodium food products while maintaining the functional benefits and flavors of salt. Additionally, Cargill’s FlakeSelect® product line features solutions with particles that are homogeneous, low in bulk density, highly soluble and provide superior adherence for topical applications. These potassium-based salts are ideal for developers who seek potassium enhancement or sodium reduction offerings.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, “Potassium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.” Updated March 21, 2018. Go to: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-HealthProfessional/#h10
Merck Manual Consumer Version, “Overview of Sodium's Role in the Body,” By Dr. James L. Lewis, III. Go to: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/electrolyte-balance/overview-of-sodium-s-role-in-the-body
U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services, “2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” Go to: https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-2/a-closer-look-at-current-intakes-and-recommended-shifts/#underconsumed-nutrients