Blood pressure and the consumption of sodium and potassium, which is more important?

Nutrition is one of many lifestyle factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease. Specifically, both sodium and potassium are known to influence the regulation of blood pressure (raising and/or lowering). The dysregulation of blood pressure is related to either too much sodium or little potassium (1-2). Jackson et. al., 2018, surveyed 765 participants to obtain estimates of sodium and potassium intake through 24 hour urine collections. Only about 4.2% dietary sodium intake met the dietary guidelines of less than 2300mg/d, and dietary potassium was reported as 1997 mg/d. The recommended intake for potassium is 4700mg/d. Furthermore, the study highlighted that a 1000-mg-lower level of sodium intake was associated with a –4.4 mmHg level of systolic BP and a 1000-mg higher level of potassium intake a –3.4 mmHg level of systolic BP.


Similjanec et al., 2020, showed how dietary potassium could reduce the detrimental effects of sodium on vascular function. The investigators used a 24-hr urine collection and were able to group individuals into a salt-resistant group. Salt resistance was defined as a change of 5 mmHg or less in 24-h mean arterial pressure. In the figure to the left, the authors show how

a potassium-rich diet can mitigate the effects of high dietary sodium on flow-mediated dilation, a technique that shows the strong association of cardiovascular disease risk (3). See figure 3.Thus, adequate consumption of dietary potassium could be protective to many people in the U.S.


Looking at the nutrients together and the impact on health is vital, especially in the case of blood pressure regulation. Similjanec et. al., 2000, results in highlight the need to consider potassium in future investigations for the management of blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk.

Kogure et al., 200, used an OMRON Healthcare urinary Na/K ratio monitor to look at the urine ratio of Na/K. This handheld self-monitoring device was supported through multiple measurements of the urinary Na/K ratio which were strongly related to home hypertension regardless of the treatment status for hypertension (4). Figure 4 highlights the prevalence of home hypertension over 10 days.

A solid starting spot for keeping your blood pressure in check is to look for some dietary sources you enjoy. Here are some good dietary sources of potassium to add to the diet from the national institute of health’s webpage.

Apricots for the win!




1) Jackson, S. L., Cogswell, M. E., Zhao, L., Terry, A. L., Wang, C. Y., Wright, J., Coleman King, S. M., Bowman, B., Chen, T. C., Merritt, R., & Loria, C. M. (2018). Association Between Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion and Blood Pressure Among Adults in the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2014. Circulation137(3), 237–246.

2) Smiljanec K, Mbakwe A, Ramos Gonzalez M, Farquhar WB, Lennon SL. Dietary Potassium Attenuates the Effects of Dietary Sodium on Vascular Function in Salt-Resistant Adults. Nutrients. 2020; 12(5):1206.

3) Ras RT, Streppel MT, Draijer R, Zock PL. Flow-mediated dilation and cardiovascular risk prediction: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Int J Cardiol. 2013 Sep 20;168(1):344-51. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2012.09.047. Epub 2012 Oct 4. PMID: 23041097.

4) Kogure, M., Hirata, T., Nakaya, N. et al. Multiple measurements of the urinary sodium-to-potassium ratio strongly related home hypertension: TMM Cohort Study. Hypertens Res 43, 62–71 (2020).

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