Potassium is an electrolyte, which carries a small positive electrical charge (potential). Magnesium helps maintain potassium in the cells, while sodium directly affect potassium levels in the body.
Role of Potassium
Potassium works with sodium in the sodium-potassium pump mechanism which creates nerve impulses, enables muscle contractions, and regulates heartbeat.
Potassium also works with sodium to regulate water balance and acid-base balance in the body’s cells. Potassium is able to pump out sodium from within cells, preventing water from building up from within and bursting the cell.
Potassium is vital to energy metabolism as well. It is involved in synthesizing protein from amino acids, it functions in carbohydrate metabolism, and it helps convert glucose to glycogen, an energy source which can be stored in the liver for future use.
The body doesn’t store potassium well. Excess potassium is excreted in urine. Potassium is also easily lost in cooking and processing of foods. The kidneys regulate blood potassium levels in the body. An adrenal hormone can stimulate the kidneys to excrete more potassium. Alcohol, coffee, caffeinated drinks, sugar, and diuretic drugs all cause potassium losses. Illnesses that cause extended periods of vomiting or diarrhea can also lead to potassium loss.
Sodium, Potassium, and High Blood Pressure
A diet filled with fast foods and processed foods is high in sodium. A high sodium diet with low potassium intake can cause high blood pressure. If doctors prescribe diuretics in this situation, it can lead to increased potassium loss and exacerbate the underlying issue.
A healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is rich in potassium and low in sodium, helping maintain ideal blood pressure and lowering elevated levels.
Potassium supplementation can be used as a treatment for older people with high blood pressure who do not respond well to blood pressure-lowering drugs.
Sources of Potassium
Your body needs potassium everyday! Potassium is important for everyday life because it helps your nerves and muscles communicate with each other. The body cannot store potassium, so it relies on daily intake of potassium rich foods. If you are losing fluids due to activity or illness, you may also be losing potassium as well.
Cooking and canning canning fruits and vegetables reduces their potassium levels. Fresh and frozen produce retain the highest amount of potassium.
Potassium is more than just bananas. Certain fish, fruits, and vegetables are all natural sources of potassium. Check out this list of the top 13 potassium-rich foods.
Symptoms of Low Potassium
The first signs of low potassium levels can show up as unexplained weakness or loss of energy. As potassium levels get further depleted, muscle aches and cramps can develop. Extremely low levels of potassium can lead to cardiac electrical problems. Any indication of low potassium levels should be treated seriously. Getting a blood test will tell you if your potassium levels are getting too low. Supplementing with a quality potassium supplement will immediately improve lowering potassium levels.
This information is not medical advice and is certainly not intended to replace the advice or attention of your personal physician or other healthcare professional. Therefore, consult your doctor or healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet or starting a supplement program.
We here at Essense of Life focus on educating our customers about the value of diet and nutrition so that they are better able to take the responsibility for their health into their own hands. Our Essential Health blog and store sites provide a wide range of informative articles and research related to a variety of natural health topics that we are sure you will find very valuable in your own health quest.