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April 29, 1968


Author Affiliations

Evansville, Ind

JAMA. 1968;204(5):392-393. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140180042012

If you restrict a man's diet to much less than 22 mEq (500 mg) of sodium, his excretion of the electrolyte almost ceases within a few days. But deprive him of potassium and he continues to pour out this mineral in urine and sweat, often more than 40 mEq (1,560 mg) a day in urine alone, until extracellular fluid and cells are depleted.1

Most diets in the developed countries abound in meat, eggs, dairy products, and fish, and provide a daily intake of sodium often ranging from 20 to 200 times the requirement. These diets frequently lack generous amounts of potassium-rich fruits and vegetables; their potassium content further decreases because of the unwise custom of boiling vegetables and discarding the potassiumrich liquor. Excessive sodium aggravates or contributes to a cluster of ailments; so does lack of potassium. Clearly, the body manifests an inappropriate, even damaging, pattern of hoarding sodium