, Volume 55, Issue 5, pp 1295-1303
Date: 10 Feb 2012

Potassium intake and risk of incident type 2 diabetes mellitus: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study

Abstract

Aims/hypothesis

Serum potassium has been found to be a significant predictor of diabetes risk, but the effect of dietary potassium on diabetes risk is not clear. We sought to determine if dietary potassium is associated with risk of incident type 2 diabetes in young adults.

Methods

We used data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study. Potassium intake was measured by (1) an average of three 24 h urinary potassium collections at the 5-year study visit, and (2) the CARDIA dietary assessment instrument at baseline. Incident type 2 diabetes cases were ascertained on the basis of use of diabetes medication and laboratory measurements. Analyses were adjusted for relevant confounders including intake of fruit and vegetables and other dietary factors.

Results

Of 1,066 participants with urinary potassium measurements, 99 (9.3%) developed diabetes over 15 years of follow-up. In multivariate models, adults in the lowest urinary potassium quintile were more than twice as likely to develop diabetes as their counterparts in the highest quintile (HR 2.45; 95% CI 1.08, 5.59). Of 4,754 participants with dietary history measurements, 373 (7.8%) developed diabetes over 20 years of follow-up. In multivariate models, African-Americans had a significantly increased risk of diabetes with lower potassium intake, which was not found in whites.

Conclusions/interpretation

Low dietary potassium is associated with increased risk of incident diabetes in African-Americans. Randomised clinical trials are needed to determine if potassium supplementation, from either dietary or pharmacological sources, could reduce the risk of diabetes, particularly in higher-risk populations.