Potassium the New Bone Builder

The great scourge of osteoporosis is in the minds of so many people. As we age,  most of the time calcium is the main target. In the natural health product world though, calcium is only the tip of the iceberg. The main point to keep in mind is that bones are made of more than just calcium, so you have to take a variety of minerals if you want to improve your bone density. Many of these minerals will be used in the connective tissue that supports the bones, but some of them will be helpful in other ways. In an article published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, potassium was found to help alkalinize the body and thus reduce bone loss related to diet and overall acidity.

For some people, the acidity of their diet leads to increased acidity of the urine and blood, which essentially leaches minerals from the body. If the body is more alkaline (less acidic), then the minerals stay in the bone more easily. Just like acidic foods can dissolve your teeth, acidic body fluids can pull minerals from bones.

For this particular study, the participants were given 60mEq  (roughly 6g) of potassium citrate per day. The researchers found that calcium lost in urine was decreased and bone mineral density improved among participants. That is quite impressive considering that the research on bisphosphonates, a common osteoporosis medication, is indicating that the harms may outweigh the benefits caused by these types of drugs.

Now before everyone goes running out to buy large stores of potassium citrate, keep in mind that there are other nutrients that are also showing promise in preventing bone mineral loss. Vitamin D has been shown to be helpful not only for bone growth, but also for mood and immune function. Vitamin K has been shown to help bone density as well as prevent excessive bleeding and lowering the risk of developing some cancers.

If you are wanting to increase the potassium in your diet keep in mind that many vegetables like potatoes, squash, and mushrooms have more potassium by weight than bananas and less sugars too. Also keep in mind that the study used high levels of potassium citrate to alkalinize the body, so it would be difficult to alkalinze the diet just by adding a mushroom or two a day.

Your best approach to maintaining your bone density will come from exercise, good eating habits, and a supplement routine that is tailored to you specifically.