Potassium-, magnesium-rich diet recommended to cut stroke, diabetes risk

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With our fast-paced lifestyle of eating on the go, doctors say avoiding strokes, diabetes and other diseases can be as simple as getting a few essential nutrients every day. The latest research shows what many Americans are missing.

A recent study finds post-menopausal women who take in potassium-rich diets are 12-percent less likely to suffer strokes compared to those who eat much less.

The government recommends Americans try to eat 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day. Experts say potassium may blunt some of the harmful effects of sodium on blood pressure.

"It maintains the electricity balance in the cell membranes and it is an essential electrolyte in your body system," said Dr. Lance Lee, Glendale Adventist Medical Center.

Like the study, neurologist Dr. Lee recommends people get their minerals by eating nutrient-rich foods.

But urgent-care specialist Dr. Shauna Collins says she understands how that's not always possible.

"The common diet in our culture is often depleted of many, many vitamins and minerals," said Dr. Collins. "There's so much processed foods, and so much fast foods, we're eating on the go."

Collins finds many of her patients are deficient in vitamin D. The recommended dose is 400 daily international units. Dr. Collins suggests taking calcium and vitamin D together.

"There is benefit when they're taken together and together they help to strengthen the bones," said Collins.

Magnesium is another nutrient people don't always get enough of. Studies show magnesium levels are low in people with diabetes, and that supplementing it appears to help reverse pre-diabetes.

While supplements can be helpful, Dr. Lee prefers people eat more whole foods such as avocados, white beans, potatoes, bananas and dark leafy greens.

"And they are also very nutritious. They have high fibers, antioxidants, nutrients, minerals," said Lee. "I think there's overall benefit of taking such diet."

And one warning: Lee points out people with kidney failure or any other type of kidney problem should avoid excess amounts of potassium.

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