POTASSIUM FOR BONES

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Potassium citrate--the kind found in fruits and vegetables--appears to build bone.

Scientists randomly assigned 161 postmenopausal women with low bone density to take 390 mg of potassium, either as citrate or chloride, three times a day. After one year, the women who took potassium citrate had higher density in their spine and hip bones, while those who took potassium chloride lost bone in their spines. (Their hip bone density didn't change.)

What to do: Eat more fruits and vegetables to protect your bones. (But avoid potassium pills, which can be toxic.) Unlike potassium chloride, potassium citrate may strengthen bones by neutralizing the acid produced by a typical American diet.

Other studies suggest that potassium citrate (but not chloride) may also prevent kidney stones. Any potassium lowers blood pressure, but most people don't get as much as experts recommend (4,700mg a day).

J. Am. Soc. Nephrol. 17: 3213, 2006.

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