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The average American diet contains from 3 to 7gm per day of sodium but only 2gm of potassium. This is almost the opposite of that which may be optimal. A desirable potassium intake per day is 6 to 9gm from food sources. Maintaining a dietary sodium:potassium ratio of at least 1:4 can protect against hypertension, crippling strokes and premature death. Eating foods high in potassium and low in sodium can also help prevent kidney disease and heart problems caused by hypertension. Furthermore, a high potassium diet reduces risk of stroke and premature death - even if blood pressure doesn't fall.

Potassium as a supplement is only available in 99mg tablets. A prescription is required for higher doses, even though an average banana may contain 500mg. The best food sources include all vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables; oranges, whole grains, sunflower seeds, mint leaves, oranges, nuts, milk, potatoes, and bananas. One milliequivalent (meq) is equal to about 64mg of potassium.

Serum levels are a fair indicator of potassium status, but the best indicator of intracellular potassium is RBC (red blood cell) potassium.

Large doses of potassium supplements can cause stomach irritation in some individuals and should be taken after meals with plenty of water. Individuals should avoid using slow-release or film-coated potassium tablets as they may increase the risk of ulcers in the small intestine.
 

 
 

Potassium can help with the following:
 
 
Autoimmune  Myasthenia Gravis
 The weakness of myasthenia gravis may be improved by potassium consumption, if dietary potassium is low.

Circulation

  Arrhythmias/Dysrhythmias
 When taking drugs that might deplete intracellular potassium, one should supplement with oral potassium. Low potassium may cause muscle cramps or worsen an arrhythmia. Since over-the-counter potassium supplements are limited to 99mg each (about 1/5 that in an average banana), dietary or prescription potassium may be necessary.

Potassium and magnesium may be valuable in preventing tachyarrhythmias in Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome.

  Increased Risk of Stroke
 Potassium, found in fruits and vegetables, has been shown to decrease the incidence of strokes. A low potassium diet increases the risk of stroke. [Neurology 2002;59(3): pp.314-320]

  Hypertension
 The blood pressure lowering effect of supplemental potassium may be greater in patients receiving a high-salt diet. The amount of dietary potassium required to achieve this effect is, however, not easily obtained.

Metabolic

  Metabolic Diet Type
  Acidosis

Musculo-Skeletal

  General Weakness
 Sometimes weakness may be improved by potassium consumption, when dietary potassium is low.

Nutrients

  Hypokalemia / Potassium Need

Organ Health

  Kidney Stones (Urolithiasis)
 Urocit-K is a patented formulation of potassium citrate. Urocit-K is available in slow-release wax-matrix tablets in 540 mg and 1080 mg strengths. Urocit-K is indicated for the treatment of calcium and uric acid kidney stones. UROCIT-K is clinically proven to inhibit the formation of most stones in over 90% of patients.


Not recommended for:
  Kidney Failure
 You may need to limit the potassium in your diet because it may be hard for your kidneys to get rid of any extra potassium.

Risks

  Increased Risk of Coronary Disease / Heart Attack
  Increased Risk of Hypertension
 
 


KEY
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended
May have adverse consequences







GLOSSARY

Gram:  (gm): A metric unit of weight, there being approximately 28 grams in one ounce.

Hypertension:  High blood pressure. Hypertension increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure because it adds to the workload of the heart, causing it to enlarge and, over time, to weaken; in addition, it may damage the walls of the arteries.

Milligram:  (mg): 1/1,000 of a gram by weight.

Potassium:  A mineral that serves as an electrolyte and is involved in the balance of fluid within the body. Our bodies contain more than twice as much potassium as sodium (typically 9oz versus 4oz). About 98% of total body potassium is inside our cells. Potassium is the principal cation (positive ion) of the fluid within cells and is important in controlling the activity of the heart, muscles, nervous system and just about every cell in the body. Potassium regulates the water balance and acid-base balance in the blood and tissues. Evidence is showing that potassium is also involved in bone calcification. Potassium is a cofactor in many reactions, especially those involving energy production and muscle building.

Red Blood Cell:  Any of the hemoglobin-containing cells that carry oxygen to the tissues and are responsible for the red color of blood.

Serum:  The cell-free fluid of the bloodstream. It appears in a test tube after the blood clots and is often used in expressions relating to the levels of certain compounds in the blood stream.

Sodium:  An essential mineral that our bodies regulate and conserve. Excess sodium retention increases the fluid volume (edema) and low sodium leads to less fluid and relative dehydration. The adult body averages a total content of over 100 grams of sodium, of which a surprising one-third is in bone. A small amount of sodium does get into cell interiors, but this represents only about ten percent of the body content. The remaining 57 percent or so of the body sodium content is in the fluid immediately surrounding the cells, where it is the major cation (positive ion). The role of sodium in the extracellular fluid is maintaining osmotic equilibrium (the proper difference in ions dissolved in the fluids inside and outside the cell) and extracellular fluid volume. Sodium is also involved in nerve impulse transmission, muscle tone and nutrient transport. All of these functions are interrelated with potassium.

Stomach:  A hollow, muscular, J-shaped pouch located in the upper part of the abdomen to the left of the midline. The upper end (fundus) is large and dome-shaped; the area just below the fundus is called the body of the stomach. The fundus and the body are often referred to as the cardiac portion of the stomach. The lower (pyloric) portion curves downward and to the right and includes the antrum and the pylorus. The function of the stomach is to begin digestion by physically breaking down food received from the esophagus. The tissues of the stomach wall are composed of three types of muscle fibers: circular, longitudinal and oblique. These fibers create structural elasticity and contractibility, both of which are needed for digestion. The stomach mucosa contains cells which secrete hydrochloric acid and this in turn activates the other gastric enzymes pepsin and rennin. To protect itself from being destroyed by its own enzymes, the stomach’s mucous lining must constantly regenerate itself.

Stroke:  A sudden loss of brain function caused by a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel that supplies the brain, characterized by loss of muscular control, complete or partial loss of sensation or consciousness, dizziness, slurred speech, or other symptoms that vary with the extent and severity of the damage to the brain. The most common manifestation is some degree of paralysis, but small strokes may occur without symptoms. Usually caused by arteriosclerosis, it often results in brain damage.

Ulcer:  Lesion on the skin or mucous membrane.