Taking potassium citrate, a base, to neutralize the high acidity of typical Western diets can help increase bone mass in postmenopausal women with thinning bones, according to researchers in Switzerland and San Francisco.
“Our results demonstrate for the first time that merely by partially reversing the acidity of the diet, bone mass increased rapidly and in amounts that are within the range of increase produced by common FDA-approved medicines,” Dr. Reto Krapf, from the University of Basel in Switzerland, said in a statement.
The effect of continuously high acid levels on bone formation is controversial, but there is some evidence to suggest that they are associated with a drop in bone mineral density. Thus, neutralizing high acidity might increase bone mass.
The current study, described in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, involved 161 women with sub-par bone mineral density who were randomly assigned to take potassium citrate, a base compound that reacts with acid to neutralize it, or potassium chloride daily for 6 to 12 months.
The women taking potassium citrate showed significant increases in BMD at the spine and hip compared with the women given potassium chloride.
Further studies examining the effects on fracture rates are needed before potassium citrate can be widely recommended as a treatment for osteoporosis, Krapf noted. “However, given the safety and extremely low cost of this agent, these results should be very encouraging to government agencies regarding funding for future trials,” he added.
SOURCE: Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, November 2006.
Revision date: June 14, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD