Dr. Reto Krapf of the University of Basel in Switzerland and colleagues conducted a study of 161 post-menopausal women whose average age was 59. Krapf split the women into two groups: The first received a daily supplement of potassium citrate for up to 12 months, and the second was given a daily supplement of potassium chloride for up to 12 months.
The researchers hoped to prove that potassium citrate -- a base chemical -- could raise acidic body pH in the participants, which is generally caused by poor lifestyle and dietary choices. Potassium chloride was used in the control group because it is a neutral chemical that does not affect body pH.
After six to 12 months, the researchers conducted bone mineral density tests on the participants' lower spine and hips. The group taking the potassium citrate (base) supplements experienced a one percent increase in bone mineral density in the lumbar spine area, as well as a one percent increase in bone density in the hips. Conversely, the group taking the potassium chloride (neutral) experienced a one percent loss of bone density at both test sites.
"Both the spine and hip are critical regions where osteoporosis and low bone mass result in debilitating fractures," according to the American Society of Nephrology.
The researchers also found that the women taking potassium citrate lost less calcium through their urine than those taking potassium chloride.
According to Krapf's team of researchers, the typical American diet is far too high in acidic foods that lower the body's pH, including dairy products, refined grains and meat products. An acidic body pH forces the body to pull alkaline calcium from the bones to help buffer the high levels of acid, which results in bone loss and can cause other health disorders such as cancer.
Americans also consume too few alkaline foods, such as fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, which raise the body's pH to healthier levels, Krapf said.
Nutritionist and consumer advocate Mike Adams recommends consumers avoid processed foods and beverages -- especially colas and other sugary sodas -- to prevent bone loss. Consumers can research healthy nutrition options on Adams' free online nutrient database, NutrientReference.com.