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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 238-

Salt substitutes: Are they safe?

P Sunil, A Goel, YS Rizvi 
 Department of Nephrology, BL Kapur Super Specialty Hospital, Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
P Sunil
Department of Nephrology, BL Kapur Super Specialty Hospital, Delhi

How to cite this article:
Sunil P, Goel A, Rizvi Y S. Salt substitutes: Are they safe?.Indian J Nephrol 2013;23:238-238

How to cite this URL:
Sunil P, Goel A, Rizvi Y S. Salt substitutes: Are they safe?. Indian J Nephrol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2022 Sep 28 ];23:238-238
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A 55-year-old lady presented to the outpatient clinic with a short history of tremulousness of hands. She was a known case of type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and diabetic nephropathy/CKD-5 on conservative treatment with a stable renal function (serum creatinine 4.0 mg/dl). On routine investigations, she was found to have hyperkalemia (serum K + 8.3 meq/l). ECG showed tall T waves, but her vitals were stable. Perusal of her documents revealed no medication likely to cause hyperkalemia. Detailed questioning into her dietary practices revealed that she had started taking low sodium salt substitute - "TATA Lite" as it was advertised as being helpful for blood pressure control. Our patient could be managed successfully with anti-hyperkalemic measures and her symptoms resolved completely after correction of hyperkalemia.

We have come across a number of cases where patients with renal diseases use "low salt" substitutes without being aware of its potential life threatening side effects and develop hyperkalemia. These salt substitutes are marketed as low sodium salt, but it is not appropriately highlighted that they contain potassium in higher amounts. The composition of "TATA Lite" is shown in [Table 1]. Hence, although patients were instructed to reduce potassium intake, they were unknowingly taking these salt substitutes with a high potassium content. There are case reports of patients of CKD on dialysis presenting with hyperkalemia secondary to the use of salt substitutes leading to asystole. [1]{Table 1}

One such salt substitute marketed in the western countries under the brand name "LoSalt" clearly mentions that their product should be avoided in patients with diabetes, cardiac, and renal diseases who are on medicines like ACE inhibitor or ARB. Such a warning should be printed in bold letters and in local dialect so that the consumer is aware of its possible side effects.

Physicians and dietary councilors must warn the patients against using such salt substitutes if they are prescribed potassium restriction.


1Doorenbos CJ, Vermeij CG. Danger of salt substitutes that contain potassium in patients with renal failure. BMJ 2003;326:35-6.