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
Snively WD. AN EXAMPLE OF ATAVISTIC PHYSIOLOGY? JAMA. 1968;204(5):392–393. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140180042012
Coronavirus Resource Center
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Create a personal account or sign in to: