Is YOUR Potassium up to Par?

DO you have fatigue and Muscle soreness?

Dizziness or fainting a problem?

What about an irregular heartbeat?

You could have a potassium deficiency.

Do you know the symptoms of potassium deficiency?

Do you need a potassium supplement? Not likely

Can you get Potassium from foods? Yep 

Do you eat fruits and vegetables? 

Potassium is reliably found in fruits and veggies.

If you have high blood pressure or take fluid pills

You may need extra potassium.

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[In response to a question from a reader]

Some Potassium Factoids:

Potassium ranks as on the most important minerals in our bodies, tissues and cells.

Potassium is found in every cell of the human body. 

Potassium is essential to water balance and distribution.

Potassium helps with acid-base balance. 

Potassium works in concert with sodium, chloride, magnesium and calcium.

Potassium, an electrolyte, and plays a crucial role in water balance and the maintenance of blood pressure. 

Potassium is also vital to normal muscle and nerve function.

Potassium is important to kidney and adrenal function.

Potassium is crucial to the conduction of the electrical impulses that control the heart. 

Potassium deficiency, or hypokalemia, causes a wide array of symptoms – which vary in severity depending on the degree of deficiency.

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~ A little Practical and Physiology Background

95% of our Potassium is inside our cells, with only a fraction in the bloodstream.

Potassium excess in the bloodstream can cause the heart to stop beating, AKA Cardiac Arrest.

Potassium is used in lethal injections [along with a sedative and a paralytic agent]

Hyper-kalemia [or elevated levels of potassium] is rarely seen in people with normal kidney function.

Some medications increase the risk of developing Hyper-kalemia.

Kidney failure or chronic kidney disease [CKD] can lead to Hyper-kalemia as well.

Talk to you doctor before taking a potassium supplement.

The good news is that foods can give YOU all the potassium you need.

More on foods in a minute.

Let’s look at some symptoms of potassium shortage….

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Potassium Deficiency Symptoms include: 

Except from a great post on Livestrong,com

~ Muscle Weakness, Spasms, Cramps and Tetany

In order for muscle cells to contract, a marked difference in intracellular and extracellular potassium concentrations must exist.

As potassium levels drop, this concentration difference decreases and the muscles are unable to function normally. This causes generalized fatigue and a variety of muscular symptoms including weakness, spasms, twitching and cramps. 

In cases of extreme hypokalemia, the muscles can go into a sustained involuntary state of contraction called tetany.

~ Paralysis

Extreme hypokalemia can cause the muscles to go completely limp, a condition called flaccid paralysis.

Importantly, the muscles involved in breathing can be affected by hypokalemic paralysis. Breathing can be slow and shallow, or may stop completely.

~ Muscle Stiffness, Aching and Tenderness

Severe potassium deficiency not only impairs the function of muscle cells, it also damages them, causing their contents to leak out–a condition called rhabdomyolysis. 

Symptoms include profound weakness and muscle stiffness, aching and tenderness.

~ Abdominal Bloating, Pain and Cramping

The involuntary muscles of the stomach and intestines can also malfunction when the potassium level is too low. 

Symptoms including abdominal bloating, pain, and cramping may be present. Constipation may also occur. 

In the extreme, intestinal activity may virtually stop, a condition called paralytic ileus.

~ Heart Palpitations

The rhythmic, coordinated contractions of the heart are controlled by electrical impulses, which are ferried across the heart muscle by a specialized conduction system. 

Hypokalemia can disrupt this conduction system, causing heart rhythm abnormalities. 

The most common symptom is heart palpitations–an awareness of missed beats, extra beats, or a feeling that the heart is pounding too fast or too hard. 

These rhythm abnormalities can be life- threatening, and cardiac arrest may occur.

~ Dizziness and Fainting

Potassium deficiency can cause the kidneys to lose their ability to concentrate urine.

As a result, excessive amounts of water are lost from the body and the blood pressure drops. 

This can cause symptoms of dizziness or fainting, especially when getting up to a standing position.

~ Frequent Urination and Extreme Thirst

As already noted, hypokalemia can cause an excessive loss of water through the kidneys. 

Frequent urination and extreme thirst are common symptoms when hypokalemia has been present for some time.

~ Numbness and Tingling

Low potassium causes the nerves to fire abnormally, which may cause numbness, tingling or a burning sensation, especially in the hands and feet.

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As you can see, potassium is important to life.

~ Potassium supplements

The only time I recommend a separate potassium supplement is when people have high blood pressure or are on a diuretic [fluid pill]. You should discuss your need with your doctor.

Physicians usually prescribe potassium in the salt form [Potassium chloride or potassium bicarbonate]. The typical dose is 1.5 grams to 3 grams per day. 

Potassium salts [Potassium chloride or potassium bicarbonate] can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and ulcers – not pleasant.

There are other forms available where potassium is bound to various amino acids –aka “amino acid chelates “. Fewer side effects are seen with this version.

Potassium aspartate [an “amino acid chelate”] is the best choice if a supplement is necessary.

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Diet CAN provide enough potassium for most people.

Diet alone is usually sufficient.

I like to augment potassium using food as much as possible. 
Juicing, blending and concentrated vegetable supplements are good choices.

In our farming we use a fertilizer, NPK, – where the K stands for potassium.

Potassium is reliably found in foods – and in the colloidal form – 98% absorption.

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Here is a list of Foods High in Potassium

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Excerpted from the website nal.USDA.gov
http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/SR15/wtrank/sr15w306.pdf
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Potassium in milligrams

Tomato products, canned, paste – 262mg /1 cup

Orange juice, frozen concentrate, unsweetened – 213mg /6oz 

Beet greens, cooked, boiled, drained – 144mg/ 1 cup 

Beans, white, mature seeds, canned – 262mg / 1 cup

Fast foods, potato, french fried in vegetable oil – 169mg/1 large

Dates, domestic, natural and dry – 178mg / 1 cup 

Milk, canned, condensed, sweetened – 306mg / 1 cup

Raisins, seedless – 145mg / 1 cup

Potato, baked, flesh and skin – 202mg/ 1 potato

Grapefruit juice, frozen concentrate, unsweetened – 207mg/ 6oz 

Snacks, trail mix, tropical – 140mg/ 1 cup 

Soybeans, green, cooked, boiled, drained – 180mg/ 1 cup

Potatoes, au gratin, using butter – 245mg/ 1 cup

Lima beans, large, mature seeds, cooked, boiled – 188mg/1 cup

Snacks, trail mix, with salted nuts and seeds – 146mg / 1 cup

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From http://www.chiquitabananas.com/

We are often asked ‘how much potassium is in a banana?’ Well, the average Chiquita banana contains about 422 mg of potassium (a little less than ½ a gram), making bananas a potassium superfruit—that’s 13% of the daily-recommended amount of potassium from only one Chiquita banana!

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A healthy diet can provide ample potassium

But how much potassium do we need? 

From Michael T Murray in the Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements…

“The estimated safe and adequate daily dietary intake of potassium set by the Committee on Recommended Daily Allowances is 1.9 to 5.6 grams. If diet does not meet body potassium requirements, supplementation is essential to good health. This statement is particularly true for the elderly, athletes and people with high blood pressure.”

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A short diversion to talk about salt and a way to get extra potassium while using the salt shaker….

~ One practical approach to getting additional potassium is using Morton’s lite salt – it provides a source sodium and a decent supply of potassium.

~ Morton’s LITE SALT is 50% Sodium chloride and 50% Potassium chloride….”killing three birds…” so to speak, by getting Sodium and Potassium plus Iodine] 

~If your body temperature is 97.8 or less you are likely short on IODINE. The thyroid gland must have Iodine, a mineral, to function properly. [Normal range is usually considered 98.6 to 99.4]

~Salt your food to taste. It a persistent medical myth that salt is bad for you. If you swell/retain fluid when you eat salt you are probably calcium deficient. My experience has been that salt sensitivity will resolve after one week of proper calcium supplementation. [look for MCHA as calcium source]

~Sodium/Salt is necessary to make stomach acid. Stomach acid is required for proper absorption of MINERALS [Calcium and Iron, esp], Protein/Amino Acids and B vitamins [B12 in particular]

Note: Those with severe heart disease or kidney disease require close medical monitoring of salt and fluid status. Conversely, those with normal heart and kidney function have little to worry about concerning salt intake especially as it relates to blood pressure and heart disease. There is significant reluctance of mainstream medicine to accept the evidence that salt restriction showed no benefit in treating/reducing high blood pressure. 

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Take Home Message……….

We CAN get our Potassium from our foods, BUT….

We cannot get “Full Spectrum Nutrition” from foods alone.

We MUST to supplement our diets to get “Full Spectrum Nutrition”.

To achieve Optimal Health we need “Full Spectrum Nutrition”.

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And as I always say….

To achieve optimal health we need Full Spectrum Nutrition.

Around 90 nutrients are considered ESSENTIAL.

These nutrients can be divided into 4 groups:

Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids [Protein] and Fats/Oils.

If Optimal Health is the goal, it is virtually impossible to get “everything you need” from foods alone.

To get full spectrum nutrition we ALL need to supplement our diets.

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Supplements to consider:

1) Get a good multiple vitamin/mineral product. Versions with “Chelated” minerals are best. I also like those with some plant based vitamins.

2) Take a quality Calcium product. Look for MCHA as the calcium source and one that includes Magnesium, vitamin D and some assorted trace minerals.

3) Take Omega 3 oils. Flax oil is the best to start. Adding Krill or fish oil later [BTW – Krill oil in the container has a distinctive odor – if you place 3-4 desiccant packs in the bottle and refrigerate it, the odor is gone in 12 hours]

4) Find a good Colloidal mineral product for trace minerals. Make sure it’s from Humic shale and NOT ionic minerals. Humic shale is the “fossilized” remains of the dinosaur days. Plant based colloidal minerals are 98% absorbed.

5) Vitamin E is difficult to get in sufficient amounts from foods. I advise people to supplement with at least 400 IU per day.
Natural versions are best, look for “d-tocopherol” but avoid “d-l-tocopherol”- it’s the man-made version and is only 25% usable. Look for a vitamin E with mixed tocopherols that also contains selenium.

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