View Single Post
Old 06-01-2014, 10:13 PM   #27
Senior Curmudgeon
neurodoc's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 970

S/C/G: 162/134/125

Height: 5'2"


Allison, putting on my doctor hat for a moment, I want to reassure you that it's virtually impossible to be potassium deficient. Only if you take certain anti-hypertensive medications that cause the kidneys to "waste" potassium (specifically, diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide, furosemide and bumetanide) are you in danger of low potassium. This is because your kidneys actively reabsorb potassium to keep serum levels in a tight range (3.5-5 mEq/L). And, for the record, my medical textbooks as well as the Mayo Clinic Online state that adequate intake of potassium is 40-60 mEq/day (1600-2400 mg). If you're still not satisfied, go to and you will see just how trivial it is to get 2000 mg or more, even if you are limiting calories.

Now, limiting sodium is a much more difficult challenge. But even here, only "salt sensitive" people need to keep it below 2 gm/day. You can figure out if you're one of those people by doing a "sodium challenge" - when you get up in the morning, before eating, drink at least 16 ounces of plain water. Wait 30-45 minutes and take your blood pressure. That is your baseline. Then, ingest ~1 gm of table salt (in the clinic we use salt tablets; at home, I think that's a bit less than a 1/4 teaspoon). Wait an hour, don't drink or eat anything, stay calm and inactive, then take your blood pressure again. Most people have < 10 mmHg change in the top number (systolic). If you're "salt sensitive," your BP will increase by 15 points or more. If you're in the large non-sensitive group, you really don't need to severely limit dietary salt (it's never good to eat a bunch of processed food with tons of added salt and god-knows-what-else).

Ok; I'm done. I'll take down the medical shingle and go back to regular programming.

You don't drown in the river by falling in, but by failing to get back up.
neurodoc is offline   Reply With Quote