Potassium acts as an electrolyte (a substance that maintains your body's fluid levels) taking on a positive or negative charge that helps regulate blood pressure, muscle contraction and keep your bodily processes working right. In order to keep your bodily systems working together, your body needs to maintain electrolytes like potassium, sodium and chloride in a careful balance.129
Potassium helps regulate blood pressure and heart function. Research shows that increasing your potassium intake can lower your blood pressure. Those individuals with existing hypertension, as well as those just looking to keep their blood pressure in check, can benefit from potassium.126
Potassium's other role in the body is to help in the metabolism of sugar to glycogen to provide energy for your daily tasks. Glycogen can be stored by the muscles and liver and released when the body calls for it. Thus another of the benefits of potassium is in helping your body store energy for later use without converting it to fat.129
Sufficient amounts in the diet helps keep your muscles strong (including that hard-working muscle, your heart) and helps control blood pressure and the water balance in your cells. It also helps keep nerve impulses firing in top form, and releases energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates during metabolism.127
Potassium helps control convulsions, headaches and migraines, promotes faster healing of cuts, bruises and other injuries and generally contributes to a sense of well being. Potassium is stored in the muscles.126 A decrease in muscular strength is often due to a lack of this mineral in the diet. Sufficient potassium in your diet helps soothe feelings of anxiety, irritability and stress.127
There is a chemical relationship between potassium and sodium. If your sodium intake is high, your potassium will be low. Given the average salt intake in most American diets, it's difficult to keep that balance with food sources alone, which is why it's important to take a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement.127 Because of today's lifestyle and diet, it is very hard therefore to intake the proper daily amount of potassium necessary for a normal life. For this concern, nutritional supplements are the solution. They offer an efficient and reliable means of meeting not only our daily potassium needs but also other daily dietary requirements need by the system.130
What else shifts that potassium balance? Processed food is one culprit. Not only is processed food generally high in sodium, the processing procedure itself can remove potassium.
And if you regularly drink coffee, cola or alcoholic beverages, you may be creating a deficiency, as the caffeine in coffee and colas lowers your level, as does alcohol. Additionally, potassium is easily lost in urine, and certain conditions (such as severe diarrhea or poor diabetic control) deplete your body's stores.127
Potassium taken in excess can throw off your electrolyte balance and slow your heart down to dangerous levels.126 Don’t take more than 99 mg in supplement form because it can irritate your stomach. This small amount is fine, but eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.128
Researchers gave 54 adults with high blood pressure a list of foods high in potassium with instructions to eat 4-6 servings daily. Within twelve months, 81% were able to decrease their daily dosage of high blood pressure medication. Similar results have been obtained using potassium supplements, making it clear that reducing hypertension is among the benefits of potassium and potassium supplements.129
Aldosterone is a pro-inflammatory hormone. It tends to increase inflammation in the body. Cortisol and cortisone, associated more with potassium levels, are anti-inflammatory hormones because they diminish inflammation. The pro and anti-inflammatory hormones must be in a good balance with each other for optimum health.
A person with a high sodium/potassium ratio may be secreting more aldosterone, in relation to cortisol. Because there is more pro-inflammatory hormone, a tendency for inflammation exists in the body. This is particularly true when the sodium/potassium ratio is greater than 10:1.
Inflammation can take the form of any 'itis', such as arthritis, bursitis, colitis, or tendonitis. It is a tendency for aches and pains. A high sodium/potassium ratio is also a tendency for mental excitation. A ratio that persists between 3 and 6 suggests a forward-looking person. A ratio greater than 6:1 suggests aggressiveness and anger.131
SUMMARY: Potassium will work with the other minerals to help heal and replenish the cells that are not functioning at their potential because of prolonged inflammation. Potassium will also help to heal and balance the nervous system that has been frayed due to the inflammation. Potassium in the diet will also help prevent inflammation from occuring in the future.
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