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What's the latest on sodium/potassium?

by (568) Updated May 07, 2014 at 4:46 AM Created April 30, 2014 at 9:17 PM

Here's a flurry of questions, comments, and concerns... Feel free to pick any bit to answer from. I hate to intimidate people with so many pointed questions so just speak your mind on any point. Looking for opinions as much as facts, but prefer the latter.

  • What's the relative importance of absolute quantity vs ratio
  • That is: is it more important to maintain a balance between the two or worry about the actual mass consumed of each?
  • Wanna start throwing Potassium(K) : Sodium(Na) ratios around? I've read anything from 1:1 to like 16:1 for K:Na so a little science could go a long way here...
  • What about absolute values?

My targets are set to 4700mg (K) and 2500mg (Na) but I rarely meet both any given day.

My daily extreme allowance is set for up to 10500mg (K) and 5000 mg (Na), which I sometimes approach, but my average lands very close to target despite wild swings in favor of one mineral or the other.

  • Our bodies regulate serum levels and cytoplasm/interstitial fluid concentrations right?
  • So, are these swings and extremes safe?

I get a little 'frothy' on salty days but I'm talking long term.

  • What's a dangerous upper dosage per day for each? (call it toxicity if you will)
  • What's a dangerous lower level (weekly average) to avoid deficiency?
  • What's optimal for health and longevity?
  • Does that differ from performance optimum?

Based on daily tracking, in the past week I average 4500mg (K) and 2500 mg (Na), so not quite 2:1 K:Na... My intake in the past year has been a bit lower for both but approximately 2:1... This is what I get without worrying much about it (except actively seeking potassium most days).

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3 Replies

962 · May 03, 2014 at 9:47 PM

Paleo principles suggest that moderni diets have low K, including some paleo diets themselves. We possibly have high Na, since Weston Price's book suggests good health in tropical populations with intakes of 100 mg Na/day. Modern research also suggest optimal ratios of order K/Na 4/1. You want to decouple this problem from the iodine problem, which is not entirely trivial since modern salt is a major iodine contributor.

0 · May 03, 2014 at 2:08 AM

I think part of the problem here is establishing importance of the question, and maybe giving some context as well.

Low carb diets (under 50 grams, but for some people even under 80 grams) tend to cause the kidneys to shed sodium rapidly. These diets have a diuretic effect. If you are very overweight, and you retain a lot of fluid in body tissues, the diuretic effects of these diets are a blessing. If you are skinny, or do not retain excess fluid, the diuretic effects of these diets will leave you flat on your back without energy, and with various severe symptoms associated with electrolyte imbalances. It's not widely publicized that low carb diets require sodium and electrolyte supplementation.

In that context, anyone on a low carb diet needs to pay attention to electrolyte issues, and for that group of people your questions become important.

I am going to post a few threads here by the weekend, documenting my own (extremely horrible) experience with low electrolytes on low-carb Paleo, and separately asking for some formulations for good electrolyte replacements. I'll try to link to those threads here when the threads exist.

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568 · May 02, 2014 at 10:09 PM

Guess this one was a little overwhelming....

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