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Potassium is an electrolyte, one of the essential minerals that your body requires for proper metabolism and energy use. The transfer of energy and electricity between neurons and other cells depends on a proper balance of potassium on both sides of the cell wall. In practical terms, potassium is needed to help your body regulate blood pressure, convert glucose to glycogen and maintain healthy kidneys, heart and liver, as well as helping to lower the risk of stroke.


What Potassium Does:

Potassium helps regulate muscle contractions – including heart contractions – through a series of complex chemical and electrical interactions. Because it helps the body to handle sodium, helps maintain blood pressure within acceptable ranges. It also is a catalyst in numerous metabolic processes that keep the body working properly. Potassium citrate helps to dissolve calcium, preventing kidney stones and calcification of the soft tissues, as well as promoting proper bone health.


Where Potassium Comes From:

Potassium is found in numerous food sources, including bananas, orange juice, potatoes, dried apricots, whole grains, meat, fish and dairy products.


Health Benefits of Potassium:

Potassium’s many health benefits include lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack, regulating smooth muscle contraction and preventing the formation of calcified kidney stones and other soft tissue calcification. Specifically, research has shown that:

  • A diet high in potassium help lower blood pressure.

In the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension study, one of the most well known studies of the affect of diet on high blood pressure, researchers found that increasing the daily intake of potassium by 800 mgs resulted in significantly lower blood pressure. In another study, the Third National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, researchers concluded that those whose diets included more potassium had lower blood pressure than those with lower intakes of potassium.

  • Potassium helps prevent stroke.

Many population based studies have shown that a diet rich in potassium helps reduce the risk of stroke by as much as 40%.

  • High intakes of potassium throughout life are associated with higher bone density in adulthood.

Eating a diet rich in potassium can help preserve bone mass, and reduce the risk of bone loss and breakage due to osteoporosis.

  • Potassium may help children and adults suffering from asthma.

Several studies have suggested a connection between low potassium levels and poor lung functioning. Including more potassium in the diet may help enhance lung function in people with asthma.

  • Potassium helps prevent the formation of kidney stones.

In one study of over 45,000 men, those whose daily intake of potassium was more than 4.3 grams per day were 50% less likely to develop kidney stones than those with potassium intakes of less than 3 grams per day. A similar study of over 90,000 women showed that those whose intake of calcium averaged 3.5 grams per day were 65% less likely to develop kidney stones than those whose diets provided 2.7 grams per day.


Recommended Daily Intake of Potassium:


The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Institutes of Medicine does not give a recommended daily intake of potassium. Instead, in 2004 it established an Adequate Intake index based on amounts of potassium that have been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the incidence of kidney stones.

  • Children 1 to 3 years: 3 g

  • Children 4 to 8 years: 3.8 g

  • Boys 9 to 13 years: 4.5 g

  • Teenage boys 14 to 18 years: 4.7 g

  • Girls 9 to 13 years: 4.5 g

  • Teenage girls 14 to 18 years: 4.7 g

  • Pregnant teenagers 14 to 18 years: 4.7 g

  • Breastfeeding teenagers 14 to 18 years: 5.1 g


  • Men 19+ years: 4.7 g

  • Women 19+ years: 4.7 g

  • Pregnant women 19 years and older: 4.7 g

  • Breastfeeding women 19 years and older: 5.1 g


Symptoms of Potassium Deficiency:

Hypokalemia, or potassium deficiency, is fairly rare, but can occur when diarrhea is accompanied by dehydration. In that case, doctors may administer intravenous fluids that include potassium and other salts and electrolytes. In most cases, potassium deficiency caused by vomiting and diarrhea or excessive overexertion and perspiration are easily corrected. The symptoms of severe potassium deficiency include muscle fatigue, muscle twitching, paralysis and heart arrhythmia.


Doctors now recognize, however, that a diet that is chronically low in potassium can have other, more subtle effects. People with low potassium intakes are more likely to have high blood pressure, suffer from strokes and develop kidney stones. Their bone density is generally less than those who have adequate and high levels of potassium intake, and they may be more subject to muscle twitching and cramping that disturbs sleep. In fact, midwives have traditionally advised their pregnant patients to eat a banana a day to help stave off leg cramps during the night.


Potassium Toxicity:

Abnormally high intakes of potassium carry potentially harmful effects, including tissue damage, the rupture of blood cells, kidney damage and heart arrhythmia that can lead to cardiac arrest. Intakes greater than 18 grams at once can result in hyperkalemia (too much potassium in the bodily fluids) with serious and even fatal results.


People who are taking potassium-sparing diuretics should consult their doctor or other health professional before starting potassium supplements, as should women who are pregnant or nursing, and those with impaired kidney function.


Supplementing with Potassium:

Because there are such a variety of foods that provide potassium, high doses of potassium in health supplements are generally unnecessary. In fact, because of the dangers of excessive potassium intake, nutritional supplements sold in the United States may not contain any more than 99 mgs of potassium per tablet. Even so, surveys have shown that most people do not get adequate potassium in their diets. Because potassium is such a vital nutrient, its inclusion in a good multivitamin health supplement can help ensure adequate intakes. This is especially true in a whole health supplement like Total Balance from Xtend-Life Natural Products. Xtend-Life uses a synergistically balanced formula for its multi-nutritional product Total Balance, so that each ingredient boosts and enhances the effects of every other ingredient. This strategy ensures an optimal balance of all needed nutrients without any fear of overdosing on any one.



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