I came across this statement on Selfhacked:

If you have high cortisol, you will do worse with a high salt diet and you will be potassium deficient in the long term (few people as it is get the RDA). But taking potassium supplements is not simple, because the deficiency is in your cells, not your blood. Also, potassium raises cortisol, which isn’t good if you already have high levels. Cortisol is anti-inflammatory, but it can also cause arthritis by inhibiting collagen formation and also by lowering cell potassium. Cell potassium is always low in rheumatoid arthritis (R). The answer is to reduce stress.

I tried searching for any proof of this, but haven't been able to find. Is this true? Does potassium really raise cortisol? Are there any published research articles confirming this?

Does it follow from this (if true) that a constant overdose of potassium-rich foods may cause a Cushing-like state? This sounds doubtful to me.

  • 2
    It can be hard to debunk uncited claims on random health sites, because often they suggest things that are simply not studied because there is no reason to study it. These claims then get propagated under the guise of "if you can't show me counterevidence then it must be true!" - which is obviously not how science works. I can't be certain this is one of those, but I can't think of any reason why one would think potassium would raise cortisol, and I'd be wary of using untrustworthy sites as a basis for any sort of health information. Jun 6 '18 at 16:31
  • Update: Addisons: Hyponatremia being a very common presentation with patients having craving for salt, it reflects mineralocorticoid deficiency and increased vasopressin secretion caused by cortisol deficiency, whereas, deficiency of glucocorticoids leads to ineffective gluconeogenesis and hypoglycemia. Hyperkalemia is present in 40% of the patients at initial diagnosis [4]. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449842
    – Gordon
    Jun 7 '18 at 17:28
  • Any suspicion that a person may have Addison's disease (a rare disease) should be taken up with their personal physician.
    – Gordon
    Jun 7 '18 at 17:29

National Institutes of Health - Health Professionals Fact Sheet on Potassium

Dietary potassium

In healthy people with normal kidney function, high dietary potassium intakes do not pose a health risk because the kidneys eliminate excess amounts in the urine. In addition, there is no evidence that high intakes of dietary potassium have adverse effects. Therefore, the Food and Nutrition Board did not set a UL for potassium.

Source: National Institutes of Health - Health Professionals Fact Sheet on Potassium, Health Risks from Excessive Potassium

Note, the article speaks of dietary potassium, what we would consume in the diet.

A lot of sites on the internet make the (dubious?) assumption that all persons are under the care of a doctor, and hence they would know if they had inadequate kidney function. But of course, for various reasons, not everyone is under the care of a doctor.

Nevertheless, I hope the above information is helpful. I would suggest that people may want to read the entire article on potassium that I linked.

  • This doesn't answer the question asked. The primary question is whether high potassium intake raises cortisol levels, and you don't answer that.
    – Carey Gregory
    Jul 3 '18 at 2:02
  • @CareyGregory Did the NIH address it? If not, it must not be a great concern. But if you are so concerned, there is room for more and better answers.
    – Gordon
    Jul 3 '18 at 3:26

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