In parts I and II of this series I presented the large body of research that definitively demonstrates the intimate relationship between less than optimal potassium status and cardiac dysfunction, with particular emphasis on sudden cardiac death. Then, in part II I presented the disturbing research that makes it clear that many prescription diuretics, the use of which is growing significantly in our society, can make a major contribution to low serum potassium levels (hypokalemia). However, even though diuretic usage is high, can diuretic use alone explain the significant incidence of potassium depletion and its potential adverse impact on cardiac health? I would guess no. Why? Of course, as nutritionists, our first and most logical answer to this question would be poor dietary intake. Given that potassium is primarily found in fresh, whole foods and green, leafy foods in particular, it cannot be denied that this suggestion has merit in a society that has a massive rate of refined food intake.
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