Potassium Good for Bone Health

Controversial as it may be in some circles, the role of acid-base metabolism in bone health has been confirmed in a new meta-analysis. What has been shown is that potassium bicarbonate and potassium citrate lower urinary calcium and acid excretion and reduce the excretion of a bone resorption marker. Bone resorption is the process by which osteoclasts break down bone and release the minerals, resulting in a transfer of calcium from bone fluid to the blood. These salts may thus be beneficial to bone health by conserving bone mineral.

The objective of a new study1 was to conduct a meta-analysis to assess the effects of two potassium salts on urinary calcium and acid excretion, markers of bone turnover and bone mineral density and to compare their effects with that of potassium chloride.

Altogether, a total of 14 studies of the effect of alkaline potassium salts on calcium metabolism and bone health, identified by a systematic literature search, were analyzed with Review Manager (Version 5; The Cochrane Collaboration; Cochrane specializes in meta-analyses) using a random-effects model. Authors were contacted to provide missing data as required. Results are presented as the standardized or unstandardized mean difference.

Urinary calcium excretion was lowered by intervention with both potassium salts, which lowered the bone resorption marker, with a very high probability (P < 0.00001). There was no effect on bone formation markers or bone mineral density.

The mixture of the two salts worked better than the citrate form alone in lowering calcium excretion.

This meta-analysis confirms that supplementation with alkaline potassium salts leads to significant reduction in renal calcium excretion and acid excretion, compatible with the concept of increased buffering of hydrogen ions by raised circulating bicarbonate. The observed reduction in bone resorption indicates a potential benefit to bone health for both potassium bicarbonate and potassium citrate.

  1. Lambert H1, Frassetto L, Moore JB, et al. The effect of supplementation with alkaline potassium salts on bone metabolism: a meta-analysis. Osteoporos Int. 2015 Apr;26(4):1311–8.

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