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New scientific research shows low-level supplements of Potassium to normal diet can lower blood pressure

BTG : 03 November, 2006  (Technical Article)
Data published in July edition of British Journal of Nutrition from King
BTG, the global technology commercialisation company today announced the release of data by King’s College London supporting the development of a new approach to decrease hypertension (high blood pressure). BTG has entered into an agreement with King’s College London to commercialise the technology through licensing to major companies. This technology could lead the way for state-of-the-art beverage and food products designed to reduce blood pressure.

New findings, demonstrated in a study published in the current issue of The British Journal of Nutrition, showed that a sustained low dose of potassium can lower blood pressure, thus decreasing the risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease. These results are timely considering recent studies confirming that hypertension remains a serious problem in many countries. The prevalence of hypertension in the UK had reached 17.1 million in 2001, about 28.9% of the population, and it is estimated to affect 18.7 million people in the UK by 2015 according to analyst house Datamonitor.

Previous research has shown that foods with 10 percent or more of the recommended daily allowance of potassium and a low level of sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and strokes. However, studies had not been able to assess the optimal dose due to the assumption that higher doses would have a correspondingly increased effectiveness. This research from King’s College reveals that a low dose (24 mmol/day) is needed to significantly decrease hypertension.

According to a report published by Roper, research has also shown that more than half of consumers in major markets would like to treat conditions such as hypertension with non-prescription supplements and food if properly labelled. Food and beverage manufacturers can apply these findings to supplement foods to provide functional food, or nutraceuticals, available to consumers. Nutraceuticals are not subject to the same medical regulations as pharmaceuticals and see a far quicker advance to market.

“BTG is building on its success of bringing healthcare technology to market as we have done with MRI, cholesterol assay tests, Campath, and BeneFIX,' stated Anthony V. Lando, BTG's Chief Operating Officer. 'As consumer demand increases for foods that also provide a health benefit, we are now complementing our portfolio with innovative functional food and nutraceutical offerings for the food and beverage markets. The supplementation of certain foods such as orange juice with vitamins and minerals represents one of the most rapidly growing portions of the food market.'

Donald Naismith, Emeritus Professor at King’s College said: “Potassium’s health benefits have been known of for some time, but due to difficulties in defining optimal doses, its application has not been exploited beyond recommendations to eat foods naturally rich in it, such as bananas, oranges and potatoes. This new study will enable manufacturers to provide supplemented foods that have been proven to help decrease hypertension.”

Specific Research Findings
The study by King’s College researchers used a dose level of potassium (24 mmol/day) equivalent to five portions of fruits and vegetables. Comparisons between the mean changes in BP (blood pressure) measurements of the two groups (30 receiving potassium and 29 receiving a placebo) demonstrated that the potassium group experienced a marked and significant decrease in mean arterial pressure, systolic BP and diastolic BP when compared with the group given the placebo. The differences in mean changes of BP between the two groups were highly significant and achieved gradually during the length of the study (six weeks). The changes observed in the treated group (7mm Hg in SBP and DBP) are far higher than the mean reported by previous studies or for severe salt restriction (2mm Hg) in hypertensive patients.
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