This is the bicarbonate formula I am recommending because it satisfies my need for bicarbonate, potassium and magnesium. Both sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate are sources of carbon dioxide. When we increase CO2 levels blood vessels dilate, which tends to bring the blood pressure down even when some salt is consumed.
A chemical element, atomic number 19, atomic weight 39.102. In combination with other minerals in the body, potassium forms alkaline salts that are important in body processes. All body cells, especially muscle tissue, require a high content of potassium and that is why we get muscle cramps when we are low in potassium. A proper balance between sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium in the blood plasma is necessary for proper cardiac function. Potassium also helps maintain healthy digestive and muscular function.
Sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate are key components of body tissues that help regulate the body’s acid/base balance. This formula of buffered mineral compounds can assist in reestablishing the acid/base balance when the body’s own bicarbonate reserves are depleted because of metabolic acidosis caused by adverse reactions to food or other environmental exposures.
Our diets have changed radically from what our ancestors ate 50,000 years ago. Modern diets contain far less potassium, far more sodium, more acid forming nutrients, and less base forming nutrients. Most people today are acidic, breathe too fast (which causes more acidity and low oxygen) so it behooves us to take both bicarbonate and potassium for good health, especially as we age.
Dietary potassium deficiency (as well as magnesium deficiencies) are a major contributor to hypertension as well as many other diseases. Moreover, potassium bicarbonate significantly reduces calcium excretion even in high protein diets. In addition, potassium bicarbonate reduces nitrogen secretion as well as magnesium excretion. The combined benefits of potassium bicarbonate of enhancing calcium, magnesium and protein retention, while enhancing water excretion, are beneficial. There is considerable evidence to suggest that potassium bicarbonate supplementation may well help prevent osteoporosis, reduce blood pressure, reduce weight and even improve adult onset diabetes. The increase in alkalinity also reduces the risk of cancer.
Potassium is excellent for heart health. A randomized double-blind trial published in the January 2010 issue of the journal “Hypertension” studied the effects of potassium supplementation on cardiovascular risk factors, endothelial function and bone turnover in people with mild hypertension. In the study, participants who took potassium bicarbonate for 12 weeks achieved a significant decrease in stiffness of large elastic arteries, improvement in left ventricular diastolic function and endothelial function, and reduction in left ventricular mass.
“Potassium is vasoactive; when infused into the arterial supply of a vascular bed, blood flow increases.” It has been reported that potassium depletion in normal humans increases blood pressure, as well as reducing the ability to deal with an acute sodium load and sodium retention.8 In borderline hypertensives (140/90), “a low-potassium diet (16 mmol/day) for 10 days increases systolic and diastolic pressures by 7 and 6 mmHg, respectively, relative to 10 days on a high-potassium diet (96 mmol/day).” Indeed, potassium supplementation lowers blood pressure in established hypertension.
Reduction of Stroke Risk with Potassium
One paper reported during a 12-year follow-up of 356 men and 503 women, who were 50 to 79 years old, showed that the relative risks of stroke-associated mortality was lower for potassium sufficient subjects. Another study of 5,600 men and women older than 65 years and who were free of strokes, followed for 4 to 8 years, reported that a lower serum potassium level was associated with an increased relative risk of stroke (RR:1.5, p<0.005). For each standard deviation decrease in serum potassium in a diuretic user, there was a 38% increase in the occurrence of stroke. For each SD decrease in dietary potassium in a non-diuretic user, there was an 18% increase in the RR for stroke.”
Another study reported that increased potassium urinary excretion (derived from alkaline potassium salts found in dietary fruits and vegetables) was associated with increased lean body mass in 384 men and women 65 or older who participated in a calcium and vitamin D versus placebo study of osteoporosis. The authors concluded, “Subjects with a potassium intake of 134 mmol/d [5.2 grams/d] can expect to have 1.64 kg more lean tissue mass than subjects with half that potassium intake.”
Bicarbonate and pH Issues
The pH of our tissues and body fluids is crucial and central because it affects and mirrors the state of our health. The closer the pH is to 7.35-7.45, the higher our level of health and wellbeing. Staying within this range dramatically increases our ability to resist acute illnesses like colds and flu as well as the onset of cancer and other diseases.
Keeping our pH within a healthy range also involves necessary lifestyle and dietary changes that will protect us over the long term while the use of sodium bicarbonate gives us a quick jump-start toward increased alkalinity by increasing both carbon dioxide and oxygen levels.
Alkaline Tissues Hold More Oxygen
According to Annelie Pompe, a prominent mountaineer and world-champion free diver, alkaline tissues can hold up to 20 times more oxygen than acidic ones. When our body cells and tissue are acidic (below pH of 6.5-7.0), they lose their ability to exchange oxygen, and cancer cells just love that. Researchers found that an increase of 1.2 metabolic units (oxygen consumption) was related to a decreased risk of cancer death, especially in lung and gastrointestinal cancers.
Dr. Robert J. Gillies and his colleagues have already demonstrated that pre-treatment of mice with baking soda results in the alkalization of the area around tumors. The same researchers reported that bicarbonate increases tumor pH and inhibits spontaneous metastases in mice with breast cancer. It also reduces the rate of lymph node involvement.
Cells function in a narrow range of pH and when they get too far out of that comfort zone they become cancerous. When cells lose their oxygen, they are losing their pH and voltage at the same time. When cell voltage is low and oxygen decreases, we see an increase of anaerobic bacteria in the gut, which begins to thrive in the low-oxygen environment.
It is important to understand that the voltage of cells and tissues is synonymous with their pH. The lower the voltage goes, the lower the pH goes, and the lower oxygen levels go as well. Wherever the body has low voltage, the cells begin to have problems that get more serious the lower the voltage (pH) goes.
Bicarbonate in water is the healthiest water to drink. It is critical to see that alkalinity does not depend only on pH. pH measures the degree of alkalinity but not its power. It is not enough to drink high pH alkaline water – in fact pH is not a big factor at all when one is trying to alkalize the body (just “think” lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and fresh green juices – all of which have an acid pH but are still great for alkalizing!).
Water expert Robert Slovak wrote, “Baking soda is still beloved! It delivers the goods – real alkalinity – while most popular alkaline pH drops from well known “health experts” are a hoax at $35-$40 for pennies worth of caustic chemical in 2oz of water. Just note that for some people baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) may supply too much sodium so they can substitute potassium bicarbonate or mix the two.”
Bottom line—if you want to live longer and be healthier use sodium and potassium bicarbonate on a regular basis. This is not a casual recommendation for research published recently in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that having balanced bicarbonate levels in your body reduces chances of an early death. The study examined data compiled in the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study for 2,287 participants.
Warnings and Counter Indications
Though potassium bicarbonate supplements may produce side effects, they are usually rare. Most medical sites recommend you consult your doctor before starting potassium supplementation but doctors rarely understand or recommend that patients supplement with the basic minerals of life. Though sodium bicarbonate is found in every pharmacy, potassium bicarbonate is not.
Potassium can cause gastrointestinal irritation. For many people on diuretic therapy for hypertension, potassium deficiency can be avoided by increasing their consumption of potassium-containing foods, such as bananas, dates, prunes, and raisins. Some people think that potassium supplements are not needed if one eats a good diet but here we are talking about potassium bicarbonate as well as sodium bicarbonate and they are essential for everyone who demonstrates acid pH in their salvia.
Potassium supplements should not be given to patients receiving potassium-sparing diuretics such as amiloride, spironolactone, or triamterene.
Dr. Mark Sircus
- Eur J Nutr, 2001, 40: 200-213
- Sudhir et al. Reduced dietary potassium reversibly enhances vasopressor response to stress in African Americans. Hypertension 29:1083-90 (1997).
- Khaw et al. Dietary potassium and stroke-associated mortality. N Engl J Med316:235-40 (1987).
- Green et al. Serum potassium level and dietary potassium intake as risk factors for stroke. Neurology 59:314-20 (2002).
- Frassetto et al. Potassium bicarbonate reduces urinary nitrogen excretion in postmenopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 82:254-59 (1997).
- Dawson-Hughes et al. Alkaline diets favor lean tissue mass in older adults. Am J Clin Nutr 87:662-5 (2008)