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  1. #1
    Alex Good's Avatar
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    Sodium vs Potassium

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    Okay so I heard today that the human body needs about 4 times as much sodium as potassium... So why is the RDA the same for both?
    What the heck's up?
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    RitaRose's Avatar
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    The RDA for most vitamins and minerals is laughable.

    I could be wrong, but it's my understanding that it's based on what will keep you alive, not what will keep you healthy. Not that the government has a good grasp of what "healthy" is anyway.
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    I think the human body is composed of twice as much potassium as sodium by mass. However the excretion of sodium and potassium are tightly regulated and do not occur at a one to one ratio. Also if I recall correctly, we have much better mechanisms for conserving sodium than potassium. I would have to double check that, but certainly required intake is impacted by retention rates.

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    Lewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Good View Post
    Okay so I heard today that the human body needs about 4 times as much sodium as potassium... So why is the RDA the same for both?
    It isn't. The RDA for sodium is currently 1500 mg; that for potassium 4700 mg:

    Dietary Reference Intake - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    How they arrived at those figures I don't know. Their reasoning is probably available in some documentation somewhere. ...

    Here we are. I tried the Institutes of Medicine website. I haven't time to look closely but looks to me like the current recommendations are based on this report:

    Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate - Institute of Medicine

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    Potassium, how can you get enough?

    The evolution-informed optimal dietary potassium intake of human beings greatly exceeds current and recommended intakes.
    Sebastian A, Frassetto LA, Sellmeyer DE, Morris RC Jr. The evolution-informed optimal dietary potassi... [Semin Nephrol. 2006] - PubMed - NCBI
    This article states we should be intake around 400 meq of K each day. That conversion is around 7 Grams! Na should be only 1 gram. There is ample evidence to show that elevation of K intake decreases BP.
    Does anybody else have a clue how to safely ingest such high doses of K? Is our plant food so nutrient deficient now that intake of such high levels would be difficult to accomplish?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by RitaRose View Post
    The RDA for most vitamins and minerals is laughable.

    I could be wrong, but it's my understanding that it's based on what will keep you alive, not what will keep you healthy. Not that the government has a good grasp of what "healthy" is anyway.
    I think the RDAs are the amount it takes to avoid the illnesses associated with deficiencies of the vitamin/mineral. It's kind of like recommending people drink enough water to avoid dizziness and hallucinations.
    Ye shall know them by their fruits.

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