The Potassium Myth

As some of you who follow my blog know, I specialize in migraines–though this blog is primarily a “resistance movement” blog of sorts. I usually grab a product or a disease or a status and mock what the establishment recommends. This article is slightly different in that I hope to also inform.

What Is Potassium?

Potassium is important in our diet–it is a mineral that is necessary in our electrolyte. If we look at the USDA recommendations for potassium, the RDA is age dependent, but for the average age-group of my readers, it is 3400 mg a day. How much is 3400 mg potassium? Hmmmmm great question. According to the USDA database, 100 gr (3.5 oz) of a California avocado has 507 mg potassium, 100 gr Florida avocado sports only 351 mg potassium, 100 gr wild Atlantic salmon has 490 gr potassium, 100 gr rib eye steak has 305 gr, 100 gr baked russet potato with skin has 550 gr, and a glass (8 oz) of whole milk has 322 mg potassium. This should give you a good idea of what it takes to incorporate a high potassium diet into your life.

Of course, food sources are not the only means by which you can take potassium. There are potassium supplements and foods that are enriched with added potassium–that is also considered as supplements.

Where Do The Guidelines Come From?

How do we know we need 3400 mg potassium? The same way we know that we need 2300 mg sodium maximum–meaning we have no idea. Just as there has never ever been any research evaluating how much sodium we need, neither was any research about potassium. The guidelines about these nutrients are not any different from the guidelines on other nutrients: we have no idea.

With permission by one of my migraineurs I copy-paste some of his comments so you can see the problem:

“I was always following a weightlifting style carb diet. I was also trying to follow the potassium recommendations of 4700 mg per day. So what I didnโ€™t consume in food, I was getting in potassium supplements. I figured if they were out there being recommended, then how dangerous could they be?”

Aha! A weightlifting standard of sorts. Where does that come from? No idea. How dangerous could potassium be? Very dangerous. It is used to stop the heart in executions of death-row inmates! Too much potassium, referred to as hyperkalamia, can cause serious heart problems even if one is not getting an execution dose. Since potassium is an electrolyte that needs to be in balance with sodium chloride for proper cellular electrical activity, hyperkalamia can dysregulate electrolytes, causing also migraines.

Supplementing Potassium

The main function of the supplemented potassium is to reduce blood pressure. Unlike potassium that is consumed in food, and which becomes part of electrolyte, potassium that is supplemented absorb at once in large quantity and “hits the heart”. It is used for those with hypertension because it reduces blood volume, thereby reducing blood pressure.

Reducing blood volume means that potassium taken in supplemental form does not participate in the enhancement of the electrolytes. It behaves similarly to a diuretic in that it reduces fluids–in this case blood volume. Therefore, if you want to enhance your potassium in your electrolyte, taking potassium supplement will not get you there. Potassium supplements land you in the exact opposite and reduce your electrolyte rather than increase potassium in your electrolyte.

Should You Ever Supplement Potassium?

Not unless your doctor told you to supplement it in order to reduce your blood pressure. I would argue that even then, supplementing potassium backfires. Reducing blood volume reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. Why is that any good?

It is counter-intuitive to reduce the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity in order to reduce blood pressure, since one of the reasons for the increased blood pressure is to increase oxygen delivery to organs. Being dehydrated can cause hypertension, since there is less blood in your veins to carry oxygen. Therefore, increasing the speed with which your blood gets fresh oxygen from passing through the lungs is achieved by increased blood pressure. So the more potassium supplements you take, the less your blood volume, and the higher speed the blood must go… makes little sense to me.

Instead of reducing blood volume, I would attack the underlying cause of the hypertension. Hypertension is caused by many things, one of them is bad nutrition, another is lack of physical activity. The maintenance of a proper ratio between potassium and sodium is a more reliable measure of heart health and more supportive of proper health-control (a.k.a. blood pressure control in this article). Note though that even the highest levels of potassium consumption only decreases systolic blood pressure by 3.36 mmHg maximum–meaning if you have 140 mmHg (high systolic pressure) and you increase potassium, your reduction ends up with max 3.36 mmHg. This is quite minimal. If your systolic blood pressure was 140 mmHg and it reduced to 136.64 mmHg as a result of the maximum increased potassium, you still have high blood pressure.

It is best if you eat right: stop eating sweeteners and foods that are sweetened, junk foods, vegetable and seed oils, low-fat stuff, processed foods, and instead, start eating whole foods with real nutrition. Also, drink up!! Water that is! And, I know you hate this but yeah: exercise! Keep active. Chances are your blood pressure will drop to be normal without any medicines or potassium supplementation.

Comments are welcome, as always, and are moderated for appropriateness.


About Angela A Stanton, Ph.D.

Angela A Stanton, PhD, is a Neuroeconomist focusing on chronic pain--migraine in particular--physiology, electrolyte homeostasis, nutrition, and genetics. She lives in Southern California. Her current research is focused on migraine cause, prevention, and treatment without the use of medicine. As a forever migraineur from childhood, her discovery was helped by experimenting on herself. She found the cause of migraine to be at the ionic level, associated with disruption of the electrolyte homeostasis, resulting from genetic variations of all voltage dependent channels, gates, and pumps (chanelopathy) that modulate electrolyte mineral density and voltage in the brain. In addition, insulin and glucose transporters, and several other variants, such as MTHFR variants of B vitamin methylation process and many others are different in the case of a migraineur from the general population. Migraineurs are glucose sensitive (carbohydrate intolerant) and should avoid eating carbs as much as possible. She is working on her hypothesis that migraine is a metabolic disease. As a result of the success of the first edition of her book and her helping over 5000 migraineurs successfully prevent their migraines world wide, all ages and both genders, and all types of migraines, she published the 2nd (extended) edition of her migraine book "Fighting The Migraine Epidemic: Complete Guide: How To Treat & Prevent Migraines Without Medications". The 2nd edition is the โ€œholy grailโ€ of migraine cause, development, and prevention, incorporating all there is to know. It includes a long section for medical and research professionals. The book is full of academic citations (over 800) to authenticate the statements she makes to make it easy to follow up by those interested and to spark further research interest. It is a "Complete Guide", published on September 29, 2017. Dr. Stanton received her BSc at UCLA in Mathematics, MBA at UCR, MS in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, PhD in Economics with dissertation in neuroscience (culminating in Neuroeconomics) at Claremont Graduate University, fMRI certification at Harvard University Medical School at the Martinos Center for Neuroimaging for experimenting with neurotransmitters on human volunteers, certification in LCHF/ketogenic diet from NN (Nutrition Network), certification in physiology (UPEN via Coursea), Nutrition (Harvard Shool of Public Health) and functional medicine studies. Dr. Stanton is an avid sports fan, currently power weight lifting and kickboxing. For relaxation (yeah.. about a half minute each day), she paints and photographs and loves to spend time with her family of husband of 45 years, 2 sons and their wives, and 2 granddaughters. Follow her on Twitter at: @MigraineBook, LinkedIn at and facebook at
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40 Responses to The Potassium Myth

  1. Don says:

    Hi, I just found your site through a link someone posted on fathead. I’ve started eating this way in the last six months and I feel better and am slowly but steadily losing weight. I see you mention artificial sweeteners in this article. How do you feel about stevia? Thanks in advance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Don,

      I am not a sweetener friend at all for several reasons, here are two.

      1) Naturals, such as Stevia, are not sugars but are what I call “sweet nerve toxins” that are sweet for a reason. As you know, Stevia is in the leaf of the plant. And the plant’s most important part is the leaf. It brings it nourishment and let’s it grow and develop. Eating the leaves brings death to the plant. Plants cannot run away or bite or kick. Their process of getting rid of their invaders–those who eat the leaves–is chemical warfare, of which Stevia is one. Stevia kills insects on he spot. It is a nerve toxin.

      It will not kill humans on the spot, obviously, it is dose dependent. However, it is “meant to kill you” and it will harm you if you take enough.

      2) In addition, while it is non-caloric and people–including some dietitians and doctors–consider it a safe sugar alternative, it actually spikes insulin–not glucose but insulin. Type 2 diabetes is not a glucose problem but an insulin problem. High glucose is just a symptom. The actual problem is insulin that is constantly spiked and it thus becomes resistant–actually the body becomes resistant to insulin, and hence it starts making more and more until the pancreas fails and we reach end stage type 2 diabetes, at which point it is like type 1 diabetes–no more insulin–and the person has to start injecting insulin.

      Is eating Stevia so important?

      I have been sweeteners free for over 5 years and I must say that once you stop challenging your taste-buds with sweet things all the time, you will awake one day discovering that nearly all food tastes naturally sweet a little bit without any sweeteners. You will also enjoy your food much more without sweeteners–foods have more taste once your taste buds return to normal. Your appetite will reduce once you let insulin crawl back into its natural levels without constant stimulation. You will become stronger and healthier without any sweet things.

      Good luck!


      • Roald Michel says:

        I stopped adding sugar to my food and drinks years ago, and never felt it as a loss. I know, sugar is highly addictive to some/most people, but not to me. I guess it’s because I come from The Other People ๐Ÿ˜›

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don says:

        Thank you for your prompt reply! I will take this information into consideration.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don says:

        In reading through your blog and various links, am I correct that you favor a carnivore diet? You don’t eat any fruits or vegetables? Do meats really contain all the micronutrients we need? Also, I read a book by the discoverer of vitamin b5 about biochemical individuality and I’ve also read about the fact that some people have problems with zero carbs. So could some people need carbs or some micronutrient that accompanies them? I’m not criticizing you, just genuinely curious and still learning. I’ve been following something close to Paul Jaminet’s perfect health diet. Are you familiar with this? But I’m thinking of moving toward carnivore since my weight loss has stalled.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Don,

          I appreciate the lack of confrontation. I think that we all have different ancestral heritage (at least to some degree) that influence what nutrients we need and how we can get those and from what foods. A quick example may serve here for vitamin A. Vitamin A is found in 2 forms in nature: beta carotene in plants and retinol in animals. The plant form is a precursor, so our body needs to be able to convert it to retinol in order to be possible to use it. This seems very simple and I grew up hearing continuously: “eat your carrots cooked in butter; important for your eyes” and I did and my eyes just got worse and worse and worse. It was not until my later years that I discovered that I cannot do anything with beta carotene and I had major vitamin A deficiency. However, eating meat and fish I get retinol already, and so I don’t need to supplement as long as I eat enough meat and seafood. The same is the case with many other vitamins and minerals. The reasons why this is so is because humans are very poor at converting nutrients from plants into nutrients for animals.

          Another misunderstood essential element is omega 3 fatty acids. Plant version is ALA, a precursor that needs to be converted, and animal version is DHA with EPA as precursor. Over 80% of the brain is made from cholesterol and DHA, and while we can make cholesterol even from sugar, we cannot make DHA out of anything other than EPA. The human body is very marginally capable of converting ALA to DHA–something less than a percent efficiency, meaning you need to eat 100 gr ALA to get <1 gr DHA, and it is also a tremendous amount of work the body has to do, which it cannot do. This is not a criticism of the plant-based diets, it is merely a fact.

          So, from a neutral and unbiased (as much as such is possible) perspective, humans definitely cannot be sustained on plants without key vitamin or mineral deficiencies. So then the question is: can they survive well and healthy on an animal-only diet? I think this is where ancestry and genetics plays a role.

          Those whose ancestry come from colder climates, will probably handle eating animal products without any plants great and healthy and those coming from a warmer climate (ancestrally, so many thousands of years ago) may not do so well on a purely animal-based diet–though there are exceptions, such as the Maasai, that traditionally eat only animal products, including cow's milk and blood.

          The important thing about the carnivore diet is that–assuming it is properly executed and organs, offal, and even blood and raw sometimes eaten–it is an anti-inflammatory diet and thus many of the plant-properties that benefit those that eat plants are not needed for those that eat carnivore.

          For example, vitamin C is a frequent debate because of its vital role in many functions, including working with iron in the blood, bone strength, and also acting as an antioxidant. In all of these roles C is only helpful if the iron is received from plants because plant iron is not the same as animal iron and C is used for the conversion, and plants provide carbohydrate, which have to be converted to Acetyl-CoA (the stuff mitochondria eats) via a piruvate process, which creates reactive oxygen species. So C is used as an antioxidant by the body to remove free radicals. However, none of this is needed in an animal-based diet where there are no carbohydrates, and while we certainly still generate glucose from protein and also of fat (glycerol cap), most protein bypasses this step when enough protein is consumed and protein synthesis starts.

          So my point–after all this long=winded explanation is: that it depends who you are and where you came from.

          As for what I eat: I eat different seasonally. I am from a colder climate Europe and grew up on a near ketogenic diet–no sugar, no grains much, only once in a while, fruits and veggies only seasonally, loads of dairy and animal products, only animal fat–so my diet now is what is ancestrally appropriate for me:

          spring: ketogenic
          summer: LCHF (eating fruits but not veggies)
          autumn: ketogenic and eating some fruits, leafy veggies but nothing cooked, some seeds, and nuts
          winter: hypercarnivore–eating only animal products with an occasional baby pepper or some onion for spice

          I find this kind of eating extremely suitable for me. I eat/drink dairy every day, no matter what season, and eat lots of eggs. I also eat lots of raw meat: sashimi at least twice a week with fish roe (lots of fish roe), oysters any time I can get my hand (and pocketbook) on some good quality. I also eat my beef raw. I buy an inexpensive chuck and ask the butcher to twice-grind it for me. This way it has nothing else in it but good quality but cheap meat. Since mushrooms and kelp are not plants, I sometimes include kelp (seaweed) in my diet–don’t usually care for mushrooms.

          I TRE every day minimum 16 hours (16:8) but sometimes OMAD at 23:1, or anything in between. A couple of times a year I pull a 48-hour fast. Nothing longer than that because I weight lift and don’t want to lose muscles. I drink a lot of water, and always with salt.

          There are indeed people with problems with zero carbs and it is usually because they eat too much protein or because all they eat is rib-eyes. There are many carnivore diets (and ketogenic diets) formulated totally wrong out there. I spend an enormous amount of time working out the ideal carnivore, keto, and LCHF diets. I am working on a book that I hope to release at the end of this year or early next year, which will detail the “right way” based on my Facebook migraine groups, in which now I have a lot of people without migraines, just learning how to manage these diets correctly. I have gained a ton of applied (clinical) experience from there to pass on.

          Sorry for the long response, but I think you may find some value in this. ๐Ÿ™‚


          Liked by 1 person

        • Roald Michel says:

          Excuse my intrusion of this cozy get together between the two of you, but I couldn’t resist (yes of course I could have, but I didn’t want to ๐Ÿ˜ˆ). So here it is:

          Re: “Sorry for the long response,………”. Come on, knowing >> a bit <> bit << was not enough? ๐Ÿ˜‡

          Re: "……we all have different ancestral heritage (at least to some degree) that influence what nutrients we need………" I second that 100%, as this idea comes close to what I've called "primal wisdom/knowledge", the stuff (physically as well as mentally) with which humans come into this world, but too often is snowed under by the norms, values, and traditions of the place they happened to go on living. Within this context, poor diets.

          It is refreshing to, once again, read the stuff of a NON-fundamentalist. You don't force your ideas onto others. On the contrary, you invite them to do some research, to find out, and then do whatever suits their personal situation. You inform people. Should be food for thought to all these "I know-what's-best-for-you" healers and company, who mostly don't even know the first thing about the "you" they're talking too.

          Hey, this one was still shorter than yours, Angela ๐Ÿ˜›

          Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for your compliment Roald. โค


        • Don says:

          Sorry, Angela, I didn’t see how to reply to you directly, so I hope you see this. I love reading, especially now about diet and health. So I greatly appreciate the response, not long winded at all! And yes, I got much from it. I was actually thinking of eating seasonally like you described just from my own logic! So it makes perfect sense to me and validates I’m on the right track. I look forward to buying your book even though I don’t get migraines.
          So I see you have some disagreements with Mr. Jaminet, but minor. He is a real gentleman and if you’ve never talked to him I think you’d enjoy it.
          I’m still perusing your site, so I’m sure I’ll have additional questions. Until then, happy eating!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Glad you found my comment helpful. Happy eating back to you and do post questions and comments! ๐Ÿ™‚


        • Angela – I liked your quick summary on nutrients in terms of a plant-based diet. That was a good explanation. I was recently thinking about this, specifically vitamin A.

          I also appreciated your sharing of how you eat. I’ve been thinking of going by a more seasonal approach. I ate some wild berries that I picked over the summer, but otherwise haven’t had fruit. I’ve had some other occasional plant foods but in limited amounts. Now I’m thinking of doing a period of strict carnivore over the winter.

          Have you written a full post on what you’ve been doing with how you personally eat? I’d be curious to see more details of what that is and maybe how that has changed over time. For example, I’d like to hear more about your views on raw meat. Have you tried high meat?

          Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Benjamin,

          Glad you found my comment interesting. Maybe I should write a blog about what I eat and how and why. That’s a good idea and I will do it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!

          What exactly do you mean by “high meat”? In looking up the expression, it points to “rotten meant”… is that what you meant? Or fermented meat?

          Liked by 1 person

        • I look forward to your blog post on the topic. Yeah, I was talking about rotten/fermented meat. Some of the big carnivore diet advocates talk about it. But I’ve never tried it. I thought you might have some experience or thoughts on the matter.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Gotcha. I almost did… I was in Iceland on an academic conference and the last dinner was hosted by the organization with traditional Icelandic foods and one was rotten fish (I should write “fermented fish”)… so I came within 1 inch but the it didn’t pass my smell test for obvious reasons. I must give credit to my hubby who ate mine too! (Sometimes we must wonder if we have the right partner in life.. I apparently do ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

          Liked by 1 person

        • My father has bad memories from his military service when he was stationed in South Korea. He has never forgotten the overwhelming odor of fermented fish. I’m more adventurous and would try it, if I had the opportunity.

          About the post on your diet, I’d like to know how you came to your present diet. What was the diet you grew up on? And what were the dietary experiments, failed and successful, that you did in coming to your present diet?

          Liked by 1 person

        • I think that with today’s mind and understanding I may venture to taste it… My nose is way too sensitive–I am a migraineur and migraineurs have way hyper-sensitive sensory organs. This will be part of my story on how I came to eating what I eat now. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think it may just be an interesting story–for some at least.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Roald Michel says:

          Hmmm……..huh…..? Re: “Come on, knowing >> a bit bit <> a bit <> bit << was not enough? ๐Ÿ˜‡ Ugh!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Roald Michel says:

          This is really stupid. And boring.The first time my “bit” message came only partly through. So I sent it a second time. Same shit, though. Ah, WordPress at its best ๐Ÿ™ˆ

          Liked by 1 person

        • I let through all I get from you.. I think it may not have posted?


        • Roald Michel says:

          I know it wasn’t you. It’s, like I said, WP’s blunder.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. dee andrews says:

    Good morning, whenever I eat a small amount of sodium added through sea salt or bragg’s aminos I get heart fluttering and some palpitations along with increased heart rate. I do have hiv so was wondering if that would have anything to do with it. I eat a high potassium diet all organic and drink reverse osmosis water so am I condemning myself to an early death? I read the sodium potassium balance is important but like I said when I ingest it unless naturally occurring in veg and fruit rice and legumes my heart races and is unstable so I was wondering what one might do


    • Thanks Dee for your question. There are several issues here:

      1) What are you eating your salt with? You likely get trouble from the food you eat it with. Bragg’s Aminos are a great example of not eating salt but eating salt with something…. it may be the “something” and not the salt that is bothering you

      2) Sea salt–all salt is sea salt so that doesn’t tell me much. If you use unpurified salt, then you are also consuming “micronutrients” such as microplastics, fish poop, and dead organic matter.

      3) If you started migraines since your infection with HIV, your migraine is secondary, driven by a health condition and not primary, driven by an electrolyte imbalance

      3) We have to confirm that you indeed have migraines and not just major bad headaches or cluster or similar. A very large percent of people are told they have migraines when they don’t.

      4) If you have primary migraines, salt is only one little part of the complete solution. The complete solution is in my book: Fighting The Migraine Epidemic: Complete Guide: How to Treat & Prevent Migraines Without Medicines that you can find on amazon or elsewhere

      You can read up on the protocol a bit more here
      Testimonials here
      And join the Facebook migraine group here

      5) The balance of potassium to sodium is always more important than the actual amount of each, and that is because the RAAS system in our body will aim to keep the balance at all times. If we are way high in potassium and low in sodium, the RAAS (kidney function) will release the extra potassium and the extra sodium, and thereby it re-concentrates the electrolyte to where it should be, at the price of reducing overall blood volume–dehydrates.

      6) What way of eating you practice is also important. Eating carbohydrates is the wrong way to go.

      7) A small percent of the population has salt-sensitive hypertension. Migraineurs don;t have hypertension–in fact they usually have hypotension–but medications can cause hypertension. A salt-sensitive hypertension-person (this is a genetic condition by the way) is not likely to be a migraineur. At least I so far have not met a single migraineur with salt sensitivity. Nor have I met a single migraineur with high blood pressure–unless caused by pain at the time of the pain and/or medications.

      So all in all, you have much to think about here.

      Best wishes,


  3. What do you think of Loren Cordain’s view? He has been condemning high salt intake for years, including recent pieces at his website. He has remained consistent on his criticism of salt. And he does cite many studies.

    But then I see many others, such as yourself, reference other evidence in support of the opposite position. Is there simply a lot of conflicting research that is maybe another example of the replication crisis? Or is this a situation, similar to statins, of newer research pointing toward different conclusions?

    On a different note, what do you think of some zero-carb dieters who have a different take on salt? Many writing about low-carb diets argue for the need of more salt, but some major zero-carb advocates don’t think salt is necessary at all. It’s not that they think salt is bad, just not necessary.

    They point to those on the carnivore diet who seem to be healthy after years or even decades, even though they claim to not use salt at all nor supplement with any electrolytes or trace minerals. Depending on what kind of animal foods they are eating, I suppose they could be getting plenty of needed nutrients. Seafood has significant amounts of some of these minerals. Also, certain parts of the animal have higher salt content, such as blood and I think organ meats.

    Is it possible that, as with vitamin C, severely restricting carbs decreases the need for larger amounts of these other micronutrients? Since we’re talking about potassium, is there any research about differing requirements depending on diet or other conditions?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the further questions. I disagree with Cordain’s view. Not quite sure where any of the research is coming from since salt need is like water need: we carry half to one pound salt in our body as a structural element that cannot be created by us. Our evolutionary past tells us that we always managed salt as much as we needed to get–there are salt licks all over the world and all animals use them. So animals are able to retain salt such that they only need to refill once a year, some, like apes, need to get their fill more often. There are salt-water-based mud and sand (all deserts) full of salt, and creates large and small supplement salt regularly.

      There have never ever been studies–for obvious reasons–of what happens if people are removed from salt or fed a ton of salt. however, one of the studies in the Lancet ( showed that at or below 1200 mg daily sodium, death rate and cardiovascular events actually increase to infinity. So we know at what level we get hurt by not eating enough. The same study shows increased health benefits to 12000 mg sodium a day, but individuals are different–you can see that with the band around the curve, which shows that at each sodium level some people benefited and others got hurt.

      So in sum: I don’t think that ethical committee would ever agree to go as far as testing the maximum salt tolerance before one dies… ๐Ÿ˜‰ so don’t expect any really meaningful salt studies.

      I met many zero carb (ZC) dieters who don’t supplement salt–I met them because they all got sick and recovered after proper salt supplementation. Again, this goes back to 1) how healthy is your RAAS system, 2) do you have salt sensitive genes 3) what kind of meat do you eat on your ZC meals. ZC-ers who eat exclusively grass-fed beef get meat of kettle brought up on salt licks so plenty of salt in the meat for some perhaps.

      I agree with you: a healthy carnivore diet incorporates the human “salt-lick” equivalent and supplements salt. Severely restricting carbs definitely reduces the need for salt to some small degree but for different reasons from why C is not needed.

      Carbs cause a problem: glucose entering the cells cause sodium and water efflux from those cells. After eating carbs everyone ends up with some level of edema–most people have never noticed it because it is too small but it is there. And since carbs kick salt out, one needs to replace that salt. So a carbs-based diet requires more salt as a result. When not eating carbs, there is no such salt loss.

      Vitamin C is not needed because C is an antioxidant (also help in iron binding to the red blood cells–this also required B12). On the carnivore diet there is less need for antioxidants because there is much fewer free radicals are generated at the point of the pyruvate process–that’s where glucose converts to pyruvate or pyruvate + lactate. When lactate is also created, we have a free radical problem and that needs vitamin C.

      In addition, B12 is not found in carbs, only in animal products, so those on a plant-based diet have a B12 and iron-binding issues, which requires C as well, and also just iron in general since plants have plat-iron and humans have heme, or animal iron. So when eating carnivore, bioavailable B12 is plentiful and heme iron is as well. So the need for vitamin C and B12, both of which help iron binding, is greatly reduced in the carnivore diet for most people. I must add “most people” since some are genetically predisposed to need to supplement vitamin C and B12 even on the carnivore diet–I am one of them… “genetically blessed black sheep” of the family as I am. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just so you know where he is coming from, here is something Cordain wrote a couple of years ago. It is about salt and cancer. In it, he uses 121 references.

        There are some other fairly recent pieces dealing with various health conditions and all with references. But not all of them on his website are written by him such as the last one of the three directly below, though I assume he endorses the views expressed.

        You can find his other writings on salt below with the earliest I found to be in 2014. In a number of pieces, he argues that added salt is not only unhealthy for various reasons but not paleo. I haven’t read most of them to follow why he thinks that is the case.
        Here is maybe the main one where he argues against salt being paleo. It has 74 references.

        He sure does like to offer supporting evidence, but I’d like to know how others would interpret the exact same data. In some of the above pieces, there were comments of people expressing disagreement about interpretation. I’d be curious to see how others would respond. He is such a major figure in the paleo and low-carb community, for obvious reasons. Others probably have written about Cordain and salt, but I haven’t found much on the web. This is the only direct challenge I came across to Cordain about salt:

        “If we look back throughout evolution for answers, expert researcher estimated the average sodium intake to be approximately 800 mg per day amongst Paleolithic hunter-gatherer population, far less than todayโ€™s daily consumption of 3,300 mg.(1) This is still supported today by scientitists in the field of Paleolithic nutrition, such as Dr. Loren Cordain.

        “However, salt expert Dr. James DiNicolantonio PhD believes the early research in this area is flawed, because it overlooks the fact that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed the entire animal (not just the muscle meat, as per the initial research suggestions), including the blood, skin and cartilage of animals where massive amounts of sodium are stored. Taking this into account, he believes our hunter-gatherer ancestors likely consumed about 3,000-4,000mg of sodium daily, about the same as we currently do today and double the general recommended intake of government guidelines.”

        If you’d like to hear Cordain talk about this topic, here are a couple of interviews with him:

        Liked by 1 person

        • I completely disagree with him. I am not familiar with the Paleo movement–primarily because wherever I look I find a different version… So I basically cannot define the Paleo diet.

          There is no way we can deduce how much salt our ancestors ate; it is all a guess at best but it is likely wrong, since there was much more water and salt everywhere then than there is now. We had different climate. We also had different foods available–an herbivore today eating grass is eating very different grass from what was available 100000-10000 years ago–not comparable. In general we should not care how much salt our ancestors ate… we should care about what we need to eat.

          Even the water changed–deuterium levels are very different. As a result we also need to drink more water today than our ancestors drank, who drank “heavy” water with slightly different molecular structure. That also matters since as we today drink more water, we dilute our electrolytes more.

          In terms of the glycocalyx: “Initial dysfunction of the glycocalyx can be caused by hyperglycemia or oxidized low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), which then causes atherothrombosis. In microvasculature, dysfunction of the glycocalyx leads to internal fluid imbalance, and potentially edema. In arterial vascular tissue, glycocalyx disruption causes inflammation and atherothrombosis.” this from wikipedia so you can see that it is not salt but sugar (glucose, specifically) and oxidized LDL (oxidation happens in the glucose metabolism) that cause trouble. He got that wrong… however many citations he uses.

          The reason why he is wrong is because all bacteria and single cells are covered on the outside by glycocalyx and bacteria developed in the sea… salt water… that woudl be very interesting is the glycocalyx got damaged in salt water… we would not be here today.

          I have no intention of analyzing his work–he is NOT a prominent person in the field of low carbs diet–perhaps he is in Paleo… no idea. Most low carbers have never heard of him. I have for some other reason that is unrelated to food. ๐Ÿ™‚


          Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah. I assumed you disagreed with him. My own response likewise tends toward disagreement. He sounds too sure of himself and too dismissive of others. I realize that, as the founder of what gets called the paleo diet, he maybe feels a bit territorial. In the video, he complained about paleo bloggers with popular followings who aren’t scientists advocating for higher salt intake. Sure, such people exist. But that isn’t an entirely accurate portrayal, since some of the high-salt advocates are trained in science and/or have done research.

          I agree with you about determining salt levels in ancestral diets. There are so many confounders that it is hard to know where to begin. There is what you mention and much else besides. Many foods likely common to early humans are high in salt, from blood to seaweed. But I diverge from your perspective a bit in that I do think that studying ancestral diets has value, in the same way does studying hunter-gatherers. Loren Cordain’s work was largely the study of still existing hunter-gatherers. All evidence should be used to help understand. Still, I take your point about focusing on what matters to humans now, although most paleo advocates would agree with you on that point.

          By the way, I wasn’t asking you to analyze him. I was simply curious. There is such a diversity of info and interpretations. I like to get the sense of an issue by understanding different or even opposing arguments, and then figure out what are is central to disagreements. I found it odd that there had been so little response to Cordain’s take on salt, as there is plenty of response to Cordain on other points of debate. It seems that, until recently, the issue of salt hasn’t attracted as much attention as other aspects of low-carb and paleo diets. It does come up, but for some reason hasn’t been a contentious issue for most people. For example, among keto advocates, it largely comes up in terms of electrolytes for fasting.

          About Cordain’s name familiarity, he is well known in some low-carb circles, but apparently that isn’t true among other low-carb circles. I would point out that he has done influential research, not only in paleo but also low-carb. He is the kind of researcher that is familiar to many even outside of the paleo community. Some non-paleo people who have written about him, interviewed him, or referenced him in their work include Gary Taubes, Nina Teicholz, Tim Noakes, Amy Berger, Sally Fallon Morrell, Joseph Mercola, David Asprey, etc — people who are well known on their own.

          Anyway, it’s not important. I just thought it odd that Cordain had such strong opinions about this. I wasn’t sure where it was coming from. It made wonder if there was some larger debate going on that I was unaware of, but apparently that isn’t the case.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: On Salt: Sodium, Trace Minerals, and Electrolytes | Marmalade

  5. Out of curiosity, what are your views of Dr James DiNicolantonio? I haven’t read his book The Salt Fix. But I’ve seen some videos of him talking about salt.

    He thinks that adequate potassium can be gained from foods and that salt helps make them more palatable, as high-potassium foods can be bitter. Also, once potassium reaches a healthy level, sodium will balance it out.

    But I wonder what is the amount of potassium in the modern diet vs the hunter-gatherer diet. Many foods available to us now are nutrient deficient for various reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great question Benjamin. I read his book and I support his view–to me he is even a bit conservative. There are now several published academic research articles showing that we need more salt than even what James recommends in his book. He recommends only 3500 mg sodium, which is still below the ideal–according to the research publications–that recommend between 4-6000 mg sodium a day for those with a heart disease and 5-8000 mg for those who are healthy.

      In terms of potassium, you need to understand the role of potassium and how sodium and potassium are used in our body to see that we eat enough. Short of giving a lecture, it suffices to say that for an individual with healthy kidneys and healthy RAAS system, the amount of sodium and potassium will be kept in balance by the body at all times.

      What I mean is that these two minerals are very closely regulated by the RAAS system, and if one is in short supply relative to the other, then the kidneys are either “instructed” to retain and reuse (sparing) the one is short supply or it is instructed to eliminate the one in oversupply. So if you eat a very salty meal, your urine will contain more salt than usual and you body may also spare some potassium and will reuse it instead of excreting it.

      This is one of the reasons why the argument that “salt increases blood pressure” also fails for most people. It may be true in those whose RAAS system is not functioning or who have salt-sensitivity issues. But those with healthy RAAS (and healthy vascular system) on the long run nothing will change, no matter how much salt is consumed.

      With this said and done, people with sick vascular system (heart-disease of any kind) do end up with increased blood pressure from salt–minimally so though, only about 9 inches of mercury higher, because salt retains water in the arteries and increases blood volume. People with inflamed arteries (atherosclerosis) cannot expand the walls of their arteries to compensate for the increased blood volume, hence the pressure increases. Stiff arteries as a result of atherosclerosis is the foundation of hypertension–not increased dietary sodium.

      So knowing this, how much potassium do you need? You need as much as you can consume from foods–don’t ever supplement potassium. So if all you can manage a day–say because you are practicing time restricted eating–is one slice of salmon, then that’s all you will have that day and that’s fine. If you have a day of fasting, then you will eat no potassium at all and that is fine too.

      I hope this helps,

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Shawna says:

    I know many people use sports drinks after sweating or food poisoning, etc. Are these also dangerous? Does it help that they contain both sodium and potassium? (I am not aware of the ratio between the two in a typical sports drink.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great question Shawna. I would not go near any sport drink after sports or food poisoning (or at any time, for that matter). They have other things in them that are equally undesired, such as sugar or sugar substitutes, or both. Plus yeah, potassium supplement in them is all wrong.

      Most athletes don’t actually drink the sport drinks that their bottles show. I know some in person and they tell me they replace the stuff in the bottle whenever they can.

      For sports and after food poisoning, the most important elements that need to be replaced are salt and water. After sports, many athletes drink salt-pickle juice or salt their water or take a salt capsule. I work with some athletes (they are migraineurs). One just ran a marathon on salt and water alone–fasted, no food before and during, finishing the race drinking milk.

      After food poisoning, take a little salted water one teaspoon at the time with a few minutes of break in between to allow the liquid to stay down. If you are concerned about loss of glucose–this is normally not a problem since the body generates its own glucose–you can add a little orange juice (from fresh orange) into the electrolyte for a bit of sugar and C. I would only do this with small children. For older children and adults, salt and water is all that’s needed.


  7. Christine says:

    I can only disagree with one sentence on here, Angela–“This article is slightly different in that I hope to also inform.” You inform in every post! Even when your aim is to poke holes in the status quo, you are teaching new ways of thinking about our bodies and our health. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Roald Michel says:

    I’m wondering now how many more myths there are. Well….um….not really, as for years already, especially when it comes to nutrition, I’m convinced there are more myths than truths. Mainstream wisdom is not my cup of tea anymore, as way too often it’s primarily based on making money and not the health of people. And that’s why I go with the signals from my body, your teachings, and …… and then…… here and there……..sometimes, my cravings All in moderation of course ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree Roald. I am in a very privileged situation of being able to monitor over 4000 people (migraineurs) on a daily basis, seeing what they eat, drink, their body reactions, blood pressure, and metabolic status. My observations beat the options of any doctor or researcher since I have this chance 24/7 every single day of the year for as long as I have thousands of migraineurs in my groups. And new members are coming in by the dozen every day. Hence, it is a never-ending supply of information that helps me understand what the body does and how. It is priceless! ๐Ÿ™‚


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