The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 12 No. 2 • April 2009

No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.
— William Blake

A desire not to butt into other people’s business is eighty percent of all human wisdom.
— Robert A. Heinlein

Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.
— H. L. Mencken

Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups.
— John Kenneth Galbraith

I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.
— Thomas Jefferson
(in a letter to Charles Yancey, 1816)

To contract new debts is not the way to pay old ones.
— George Washington
(to James Welch, Apr. 7, 1799)

We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.
— Thomas Jefferson
(in a letter to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816)

Effects of Potassium on Blood Pressure via Reduction of Endothelial "Stiffness" and Increased NO Release

The April 2009 issue of the Life Enhancement magazine contained an interview with us as well as a review of some of the scientific literature on important effects of potassium bicarbonate supplements, including beneficial effects on blood pressure and the risk of stroke.

A new study1 now reports that potassium controls endothelial deformability (by preventing the stiffness that results from small physiological changes in extracellular sodium concentration2) and increases nitric oxide (NO) release. The authors speculate that “… soft endothelial cells have a larger degree of physical compliance compared with stiff ones, and more easily undergo rapid morphological changes that occur during cardiac pulsations and thus generate more NO.” The authors propose that a submembrane compartment of endothelial cells may “rapidly switch between solation (a change toward a fluid-like state) and gelation (a change to a more solid state) depending on ambient sodium and potassium.”

The researchers found that when the endothelial cells were cultured in high-sodium medium in the presence of aldosterone (an adrenal hormone that regulates sodium and potassium homeostasis, in part by modulating sodium resorption in the kidney), the cells did not respond anymore to changes in extracellar potassium between 2 and 8 mM. The authors suggest that these findings indicate that high potassium level can stimulate NO release as long as ambient sodium concentration is low, with aldosterone’s effects on the entry of sodium into the cell playing the role of a key modulator.

It is also interesting that a very recent clinical trial3 reported that in 29 overweight and obese normotensive men and women, a low salt diet (50 mmol sodium/day) as compared to a usual-salt diet (150 mmol sodium/day) for 2 weeks resulted in improved endothelium dependent vasodilation independently of the changes in the measured resting blood pressure. In that paper, the authors note that “A high salt intake has been shown to be a determinant of arterial stiffness, and a low salt intake has been associated with reduced arterial stiffness in normotensive adults, both epidemiologically and in an intervention.” Moreover, they continue, increased arterial stiffness “predicts the development of CVD [cardiovascular disease] and is an independent predictor of mortality in hypertensive patients.”

Our new Potassium Basics™ is now available from Life Enhancement Products. Recommended dosage is two capsules containing 1,053 mg. of potassium as potassium bicarbonate taken 2-4 times daily.


  1. Oberleithner et al. Potassium softens vascular endothelium and increases nitric oxide release. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 106(8):2829-34 (2009).
  2. Oberleithner et al. Plasma sodium stiffens vascular endothelium and reduces nitric oxide release. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 104(41):16281-6 (2007).
  3. Dickinson et al. Effects of a low-salt diet on flow-mediated dilatation in humans. Am J Clin Nutr 89:485-90 (2009).

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