Potassium intake: risk for hyperkalaemia? : Inventory of available data in the Netherlands

Kalium inname: risico van hyperkaliëmie? : Overzicht van beschikbare gegevens in Nederland


Potassium has a beneficial effect on blood pressure levels because it counters the blood raising effect of sodium (NaCl, 'salt'). Important sources of potassium are fruit and vegetables, potatoes and meat. It is nearly impossible to get an overdose of potassium from natural food sources. Almost the entire daily intake of potassium is excreted by the kidneys in healthy individuals. The most important group at risk of developing abnormal high levels of potassium in the blood (hyperkalaemia) are patients with severe kidney damage. They need to follow a potassium-restricted diet. Severe hyperkalaemia can be lifethreatening because it can cause cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac arrest or muscle weakness. Other groups could potentially be at risk for developing hyperkalaemia by a combination of factors. For instance, individuals at risk are those who are not aware they have impaired renal function and at the same time take supplemental potassium or use certain medications such as ACEinhibitors (heart medications) or potassium-sparing diuretics. The magnitude of this risk relative to the current potassium intake in the Netherlands is yet unknown. To answer this question more research is needed. These results have been demonstrated in an inventory performed by the RIVM commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. In this inventory, available data on potassium intake in the Netherlands and the potential risk groups for developing hyperkalaemia are described. The Health Council of the Netherlands is currently preparing a new advisory report Guidelines for a Healthy Diet for which this information will be used. his study was performed in the context of the high salt consumption of people in the Netherlands. To stimulate a healthy diet, the Dutch government has made voluntary agreements with the food industry to contribute to a lower salt intake by decreasing the salt (as sodium chloride) levels in processed foods. One method to reduce the salt content of foods is by using salt substitutes, such as potassium chloride.

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