Potassium health salt
Potassium is an extremely import mineral. It is helpful in reducing blood pressure and preventing strokes.
Unfortunately, the FDA will not allow a combination vitamin formula to contain more than 99 mg of potassium per recommended daily dose.
High-potassium, low-sodium diet can protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease
Potassium, sodium, and chloride are electrolytes-mineral salts that can conduct electricity when they are dissolved in water. They are so intricately related that they are most often discussed together in nutrition textbooks. The reason these nutrients are so closely linked is that electrolytes are always found in pairs; a positively charged molecule like sodium or potassium is always accompanied by a negatively charged molecule like chloride.
Just as important as the total potassium content of food is to consume sodium and potassium in the proper balance. Too much sodium in the diet can lead to disruption of this balance. Numerous studies have demonstrated that a low-potassium, high-sodium diet plays a major role in the development of cancer and cardiovascular disease (heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, etc.) Conversely, a diet high in potassium and low in sodium is protective against there diseases, and in the case of high blood pressure it can be therapeutic.
Q. Can too much sodium and not enough potassium really lead to high blood pressure?
A. Absolutely. In fact, getting too much sodium chloride (table salt) in the diet, coupled with diminished dietary potassium, is a common cause of high blood pressure. Numerous studies have shown that sodium restriction alone does not improve blood pressure control in most people – it must be accompanied by a high potassium intake.
In our society only 5% of sodium intake comes from the natural ingredients in food. Prepared foods contribute 45% of our sodium intake, 45% is added in cooking, and another 5% is added as a condiment. All the body requires in most instances is the salt that is supplied in the food.
Most Americans have a potassium-to-sodium (K:Na) ratio of less than 1:2. This 1:2 ratio means most people ingest twice as much sodium as potassium. Researchers recommend a dietary potassium-to-sodium ratio of greater than 5:1 to maintain minimum health. This is 10 times higher than the average intake. However, even this may not be optimal. A natural diet rich in fruits and vegetables can produce a K:Na ratio greater than 100:1, as most fruits and vegetables have a K:Na ratio of at least 50:1.
Here are the average K:Na ratios for several common fresh fruits and vegetables:
Q. Can increasing potassium intake lower blood pressure?
A. Many studies have shown that increasing dietary potassium intake can lower blood pressure. In addition, there are now several studies which show that potassium supplementation al intake alone can produce significant reductions in blood pressure in hypertensive subjects. Typically these studies have utilized dosages range=ing from 2.5 g to 5 g of potassium per day. Significant drops in both systolic and diastolic values have been achieved.
In one study, 37 adults with mild hypertension participated in a crossover study. Patients received either 2.5 g of potassium a day, 2.5 g of potassium plus 480 mg of magnesium, or a placebo for eight weeks. They were then crossed-over to receive a different treatment for another eight weeks and so on. The results of the study demonstrated that potassium supplementation lowered systolic blood pressure from an average of 12 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure an average of 16 mm Hg. Interestingly, the additional magnesium offered no further reduction in blood pressure.
Potassium supplementation may be especially useful in the treatment of high blood pressure in persons over the age of 65. The elderly often do not fully respond to blood pressure-lowering drugs making the use of potassium supplement an exciting possibility. In one double-blind study, 18 untreated elderly patients (average age 75 years) with systolic blood pressure of greater than 160 mm Hg and/or a diastolic blood pressure of greater than 95 mm Hg were given either potassium chloride (supplying 2.5 g of potassium) or a placebo each day for four weeks. After this relatively short treatment period the group getting the potassium experienced a drop of 12 mm Hg in systolic and 7 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure. These results compare quite favorably to the reduction of blood pressure produced by drug therapy in the European Working Party on High Blood Pressure in Elderly Study.
Q. Besides high blood pressure, are there any other signs if too much sodium and not enough potassium?
A. A potassium deficiency is also characterized by muscle weakness, fatigue, mental confusion, irritability, weakness, heart disturbances, and problems in nerve conduction and muscle contraction. Dietary potassium deficiency is typically caused by a diet low in fresh fruits and vegetables but high in sodium. It is more common to see dietary potassium deficiency in the elderly. Dietary potassium deficiency is less common than deficiency due to excessive fluid loss (sweating, diarrhea or urination) or the use of diuretics, laxatives, aspirin, and other drugs.
The amount of potassium lost in sweat can be quite significant, especially if the exercise is prolonged in a warm environment. Athletes or people who regularly exercise have higher potassium needs. Because up to 3 g of potassium can be lost in one day by sweating, a daily intake of at least 4 g of potassium is recommended for these individuals.
Q. Why is potassium so valuable?
A. Potassium is an extremely important electrolyte that functions in the maintenance of:
Over 95% of potassium in the body is found within cells. In contrast, most of the sodium in the body is located outside the cells in the blood and other fluids. How does this happen? Cells actually pump sodium out and potassium in via the "sodium-potassium pump." This pump is found in the membranes of all cells in the body. One of its most important functions is preventing the swelling of cells. If sodium is not pumped out, water accumulates within the cell causing it to swell and ultimately burst.
The sodium-potassium pump also functions to maintain the electrical charge within the cell. This is particularly important to muscle and nerve cell. During nerve transmission and muscle contraction, potassium exits the cell and sodium enters, resulting in a change in electrical charge. This change is what causes a nerve impulse or muscle contraction. It is not surprising that a potassium deficiency affects muscles and nerves first.
Although sodium and chloride are important, potassium is the most important dietary electrolyte. In addition to functioning as an electrolyte, potassium is also essential for the conversion of blood sugar into glycogen-the storage form of blood sugar found in the muscles and liver. A potassium shortage results in lower levels of stored glycogen. Because glycogen is used by exercising muscles for energy, a potassium deficiency will produce great fatigue and muscle weakness. These are typically the first signs of potassium deficiency.
Q. What are the signs of potassium depletion?
A. Potassium depletion occurs whenever the rate of loss of potassium through urinary excretion, sweat, or the gastrointestinal tract (vomiting or diarrhea) exceeds the rate of potassium intake. Severe potassium depletion is most often the result of the use of certain diuretics, but can also occur as a result of severe diarrhea or vomiting. Because severe potassium depletion can have serious consequences, it is best to consult a physician if you suspect you may be suffering from potassium depletion. Since most of the body’s potassium stores are within cells, simply measuring the level of free potassium in the serum ( the portion of the blood containing no blood cells) will usually only be low in extreme potassium depletion. The best test for determining the body’s potassium stores is the red-blood-cell potassium level.
Q. How much potassium is advised daily?
A. The estimated safe and adequate daily dietary intake of potassium, as set by the Committee in Recommended Daily Allowances, is 1.9 g to 5.6 g. If body potassium requirements are not met through diet, supplementation is essential to good health. This statement is particularly true foe the elderly, athletes, and people with high blood pressure.
Q. What should I look for in a potassium supplement?
A. Potassium supplements that are available in health food stores are wither potassium salts (chloride and bicarbonate), potassium bound to various mineral chelates ( e.g. aspartate, citrate, etc.), or food-based potassium sources. The FDA restricts the amount of potassium available in non-food based forms to a mere 99 mg per dose because of problems associated with high-dosages potassium salts.
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