Mineral Risk Factors for Hypertension

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: Heart Health
Last Reviewed 02/15/2014

Mineral Risk Factors for Hypertension

When the minerals sodium, potassium and calcium in your body don’t interact normally, they become huge risk factors for hypertension.

Excess sodium is a risk factor for hypertension in two ways. First, as all physicians are taught, it causes the kidneys to increase the amount of water in the bloodstream, which places excess pressure on blood vessel walls. But sodium’s other role ias a risk factor for hypertensioninvolves imbalances with other minerals, whichis largely ignored.

Minerals often work in tandem in the body, and one of the most important mineral couples is sodium and potassium. The movement of these minerals across the cellular membranes creates an electrical “spark” that is a driving force for many of your body’s functions.

Called the sodium-potassium pump, this electrical charge energizes another cellular mechanism, the calcium pump, which maintains the proper intracellular concentration of calcium. If too much calcium builds up inside arterial cells, the muscular walls of the arteries contract, restricting blood flow—which is a big risk factor for hypertension.

Extra calcium inside the cells also interferes with insulin’s ability to usher glucose into the cells. This causes excess levels of insulin and glucose to build up in the bloodstream, a condition known as insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance contributes not only to hypertension but also to high cholesterol and triglycerides and type 2 diabetes. When the sodium-potassium and calcium pumps are running at their peak, mineral levels inside the cell and blood pressure remain normal. However, when sodium overpowers potassium, blood pressure rises.

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