Background: The Western diet may be a risk factor for osteoporosis. Excess acid generated from high protein intakes increases calcium excretion and bone resorption. Fruit and vegetable intake could balance this excess acidity by providing alkaline salts of potassium. Algorithms based on dietary intakes of key nutrients can be used to approximate net endogenous acid production (NEAP) and to explore the association between dietary acidity and bone health.
Objective: We investigated the relation between dietary potassium and protein, NEAP (with an algorithm including the ratio of protein to potassium intake), and potential renal acid load (with an algorithm including dietary protein, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, and calcium) and markers of bone health.
Design: Measurements of bone mineral density (BMD) (n = 3226) and urinary bone resorption markers (n = 2929) at the lumbar spine and femoral neck were performed in perimenopausal and early postmenopausal women aged 54.9 +/- 2.2 y (x +/- SD) in 1997-1999. BMD (g/cm(2)), free pyridinoline (fPYD), and free deoxypyridinoline (fDPD) were expressed relative to creatinine. Dietary intake was assessed with a food-frequency questionnaire.
Results: Comparison of the highest with the lowest quartile of potassium intake or the lowest with the highest NEAP showed a 6-8% increase in fPYD/creatinine and fDPD/creatinine. A difference of 8% in BMD was observed between the highest and lowest quartiles of potassium intake in the premenopausal group (n = 337).
Conclusions: Dietary potassium, an indicator of NEAP and fruit and vegetable intake, may exert a modest influence on markers of bone health, which over a lifetime may contribute to a decreased risk of osteoporosis.