Alkaline supplementation may improve skeletal health

January 15, 2009

Older adults may lose less bone loss if they increase the alkali content of their diet, according to research released online in October in advance of publication in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Older adults may lose less bone loss if they increase the alkali content of their diet, according to research released online in October in advance of publication in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Bess Dawson-Hughes, MD, of Tufts University in Boston, and colleagues conducted a double-blind controlled trial of 162 individuals, aged 50 years and older. Participants were randomized to receive daily doses over 3 months of either potassium bicarbonate, sodium bicarbonate, potassium chloride, or placebo. Urinary excretion of calcium and the bone turnover marker N-telopeptide was measured at baseline and at the 3-month study conclusion. The investigators combined all patients receiving bicarbonate into one group, and all patients not receiving bicarbonate into another group for analysis.

Compared to baseline, urinary excretion of calcium and N-telopeptide at 3 months was significantly reduced among individuals receiving bicarbonate, but not among those not receiving bicarbonate. The investigators also reported that participants receiving bicarbonate had a 13.4 % decrease in urinary levels of the N-telopeptide to creatinine ratio. According to the study authors, this suggested that bicarbonate lowered bone resorption among these individuals.

The results of this study led the authors to conclude that "increasing intake of alkali merits further consideration as a safe and low-cost approach to improving skeletal health in older men and women."

Dawson-Hughes B, Harris SS, Palermo NJ, et al. Treatment with potassium bicarbonate lowers calcium excretion and bone resorption in older men and women. J Clin Endocrinol Metabol, 2009;, No. 1 96-102 (online at doi:10.1210/jc.2008-1662)