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The Evolution-Informed Optimal Dietary Potassium Intake of Human Beings Greatly Exceeds Current and Recommended Intakes

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 29, 2010 at 2:31 AM

The Evolution-Informed Optimal Dietary Potassium Intake of Human Beings Greatly Exceeds Current and Recommended Intakes

Department of Medicine, Divisions of Nephrology and Endocrinology, and the Moffitt/Mt. Zion General Clinical Research Center, UCSF, San Francisco, CA.

An organism best fits the environment described by its genes, an environment that prevailed during the time period (millions of years) when evolution naturally selected the genes of its ancestors???those who survived to pass on their genes. When an organism???s current environment differs from its ancestral one, the environment???s mismatch with the organism???s genome may result in functional disadvantages for the organism. The genetically conditioned nutritional requirements of human beings established themselves over millions of years in which ancestral hominins, living as hunter-gatherers, ate a diet markedly different from that of agriculturally dependent contemporary human beings. In that context, we sought to quantify the ancestral-contemporary dietary difference with respect to the supply of one of the body???s major mineral nutrients: potassium. In 159 retrojected Stone Age diets, human potassium intake averaged 400 (16 grams) ?? 125 mEq/d, which exceeds current and recommended intakes by more than a factor of 4. We accounted for the transition to the relatively potassium-poor modern diet by the fact that the modern diet has substantially replaced Stone Age amounts of potassium-rich plant foods (especially fruits, leafy greens, vegetable fruits, roots, and tubers), with energy-dense nutrient-poor foods (separated fats, oils, refined sugars, and refined grains), and with potassium-poor energy-rich plant foods (especially cereal grains) introduced by agriculture (circa 10,000 years ago). Given the fundamental physiologic importance of potassium, such a large magnitude of change in potassium intake invites the consideration in human beings of whether the quantitative values of potassium-influenced physiologic phenomena (eg, blood pressure, insulin and aldosterone secretion rates, and intracellular pH) currently viewed as normal, in fact disaccord with genetically conditioned norms. We discuss the potential implications of our findings in respect to human health and disease.

http://www.seminarsinnephrology.org/article/S0270-9295(06)00143-4/abstract

Now my question: Does anyone have access to this study?

Medium avatar

(39821)

on September 06, 2011
at 10:50 PM

As a fan of the Hadza, I'd be very much interested in buying baobab.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on November 29, 2010
at 08:05 PM

It sounds like they may be making strong assumptions about the quantity of plant matter consumed.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on November 29, 2010
at 06:17 PM

More tuber evidence

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on November 29, 2010
at 06:01 PM

Bananas aren't really all that high in potassium, it's just the fact that they are so 'dry' this skews the potassium amount by weight. If your looking to up potassium then you can't beat tomato paste/puree or coconut water. There is a really good reason that the tabs are only 99mg, high dose potassium supplementation can cause sudden cardiac death! I struggle with potassium too, it's almost impossible to get enough of on a weight-loss diet. I use Potassium chloride as my salt and I hope that counts!

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 29, 2010
at 04:04 PM

I love bananas! But I'm not gonna eat 30/day. 16 grams! Man, that's a lot. My supps are only 99mg...thats, um, 160 pills! ugh.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on November 29, 2010
at 12:35 PM

http://www.30bananasaday.com/ Get in line ;-)

2afe070b43de645b908b3cb1f4723811

(144)

on November 29, 2010
at 10:18 AM

We'd have to eat about 30-40 bananas a day...

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on November 29, 2010
at 03:30 AM

Interesting, another example where the RDA may be too low.

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4 Answers

2
3eda6fcd3204ef285fa52176c28c4d3e

on June 04, 2011
at 04:48 PM

It does seem like a ridiculous number at first glance, but from my findings it seems like at least 8000 mg of Potassium per day is easily achievable from eating less than a pound of baobab fruit per day. See:

http://www.rooibosdirect.com/baobab/img/SDI%20April%202007.pdf

According to that document, baobab fruit contains roughly 2300 mg of K (Potassium) in only 100 g of fruit! A pound is roughly 450 g so you do the math. The fruit itself has roughly equal ratio of starch to sugars, and is supposed to be tart due to its ridiculously high Vitamin C content. Here are some other fruits indigenous to africa (not as much K, but not too shabby either):

http://ejeafche.uvigo.es/component/option,com_docman/task,doc_view/gid,701/

Huge amount of data on Canadian Indians' diets that I don't have time to read:

http://www.fao.org/wairdocs/other/ai215e/AI215E08.htm

By the way, if anyone would like to order some Baobab fruit pulp from Western Africa, let me know in replies. It's definitely a superfood, but the minimum order is 100 kg so I'd need a couple other people. I could probably negotiate it down to a couple of bucks per pound, but definitely would need to get in touch with takers before pursuing that further.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on September 06, 2011
at 10:50 PM

As a fan of the Hadza, I'd be very much interested in buying baobab.

2
F38f19b6ec74b2c6bf49531fe5dae567

on November 29, 2010
at 05:00 PM

A quick look on nutritiondata for foods highest in potassium suggests that an IV of bamboo shoots is the way to go...

Other foods: spinach, watercress, and cabbage.

1
4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921

(5005)

on November 29, 2010
at 08:19 AM

But how to get an adequate supply of potassium in the diet? It seems, according to FitDay, to be rather problematic!

2afe070b43de645b908b3cb1f4723811

(144)

on November 29, 2010
at 10:18 AM

We'd have to eat about 30-40 bananas a day...

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on November 29, 2010
at 06:01 PM

Bananas aren't really all that high in potassium, it's just the fact that they are so 'dry' this skews the potassium amount by weight. If your looking to up potassium then you can't beat tomato paste/puree or coconut water. There is a really good reason that the tabs are only 99mg, high dose potassium supplementation can cause sudden cardiac death! I struggle with potassium too, it's almost impossible to get enough of on a weight-loss diet. I use Potassium chloride as my salt and I hope that counts!

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 29, 2010
at 04:04 PM

I love bananas! But I'm not gonna eat 30/day. 16 grams! Man, that's a lot. My supps are only 99mg...thats, um, 160 pills! ugh.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on November 29, 2010
at 12:35 PM

http://www.30bananasaday.com/ Get in line ;-)

0
6a9d8fd0d47d8379a8a0280c72122d77

on November 30, 2010
at 01:00 AM

Yeh well this is exactly why I want to read the full study, to see exactly where this huge intake was hypothesized to come from...

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