Dietary potassium intake, kidney function, and survival in a nationally representative cohort

Yoko Narasaki, Amy S. You, Shaista Malik, Linda W. Moore, Rachelle Bross, MacKenzie K. Cervantes, Andrea Daza, Csaba P. Kovesdy, Danh V. Nguyen, Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, Connie M. Rhee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: In healthy adults, higher dietary potassium intake is recommended given that potassium-rich foods are major sources of micronutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. Yet among patients with advanced kidney dysfunction, guidelines recommend dietary potassium restriction given concerns about hyperkalemia leading to malignant arrhythmias and mortality. Objectives: Given sparse data informing these recommendations, we examined associations of dietary potassium intake with mortality in a nationally representative cohort of adults from the NHANES. Methods: We examined associations between daily dietary potassium intake scaled to energy intake (mg/1000 kcal), ascertained by 24-h dietary recall, and all-cause mortality among 37,893 continuous NHANES (1999-2014) participants stratified according to impaired and normal kidney function (estimated glomerular filtration rates <60 and ≥60 mL · min-1 · 1.73 m-2, respectively) using multivariable Cox models. We also examined the impact of the interplay between dietary potassium, source of potassium intake (animal- compared with plant-based sources), and coexisting macronutrient and mineral consumption upon mortality. Results: Among participants with impaired and normal kidney function, the lowest tertile of dietary potassium scaled to energy intake was associated with higher mortality (ref: highest tertile) [adjusted HR (aHR): 1.18; 95% CI: 1.02, 1.38 and aHR: 1.17; 95% CI: 1.06, 1.28, respectively]. Compared with high potassium intake from plant-dominant sources, participants with low potassium intake from animal-dominant sources had higher mortality irrespective of kidney function. Among participants with impaired kidney function, pairings of low potassium intake with high protein, low fiber, or high phosphorus consumption were each associated with higher death risk. Conclusions: Lower dietary potassium scaled to energy intake was associated with higher mortality, irrespective of kidney function. There was also a synergistic relation of higher potassium intake, plant-based sources, and macronutrient/mineral consumption with survival. Further studies are needed to elucidate pathways linking potassium intake and coexisting dietary factors with survival in populations with and without chronic kidney disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1123-1134
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • chronic kidney disease
  • dietary potassium
  • kidney function
  • mortality
  • plant-dominant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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