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Potassium Deficiency Contributes to Poor Health

According to the Linus Pauling Institute, potassium deficiency contributes to several common diseases. There is considerable evidence, says Jane Higdon, Ph.D, of the Pauling Institute, that a potassium intake of at least 4.7 grams a day helps reduce the risk of stroke, hypertension, osteoporosis and kidney stones. For that reason alone, the Linus Pauling Institute recommends that all adults, including those over the age of 65, increase their daily intake of potassium to at least 4.7 grams a day.


That’s merely the tip of the research iceberg into the effects of the modern low potassium diet. Because potassium and sodium work together to regulate blood pressure and muscle contraction, low potassium levels can wreak quiet havoc on health. Hypertension is a leading predictor of heart disease and stroke, and is more common in those with diabetes – three of the leading causes of death in America.


Other symptoms of low potassium intake that don’t quite approach the level of potassium deficiency may not be as deadly, but they can make life unpleasant and uncomfortable. For instance:


  • Low potassium contributes to muscle spasms and ‘restless leg syndrome’. Because potassium plays a major role in regulating smooth muscle contractions, low potassium levels are associated with muscle twitches and spasms. These include a condition that doctors call ‘restless leg syndrome’, a condition that often wakes people during the night. They also include those ‘charley-horses’ that plague many pregnant women and older adults during sleep hours. Increasing potassium intake to optimal levels can reduce or eliminate muscle spasms and contractions that interrupt sleep and contribute to a general feeling of restlessness and discomfort.

  • Low potassium levels contribute to general feelings of fatigue and muscle tiredness. Because potassium is an important part of synthesizing protein and metabolizing glucose and glycogen, prime energy sources for the body, low potassium levels can leave you feeling tired, achey and generally fatigued. Increasing the intake of potassium through supplements and diet can boost energy by helping your body make more efficient use of the nutrients you feed it.

  • Low potassium levels exacerbate irritability and anxiety. In several studies with people diagnosed with mild depression, increasing their intake of high potassium foods showed notable improvement in day to day mood. Because potassium is used in neural transmission, increasing potassium intake in the diet may help improve mood and alleviate irritability and anxiety.

  • Low potassium levels are linked with bone loss in osteoporosis. Because potassium inhibits bone resorption, adequate levels of potassium help reduce loss of bone due to osteoporosis.


Most of these are not the kinds of benefits that grab headlines. Instead, they are the small changes in the way your body functions that improve the quality of your life by getting rid of aches, pains and irritations that infringe on your enjoyment of daily activities. Taken together with the medically proven benefits of reducing high blood pressure and preventing stroke, they make a powerful endorsement for ensuring that you get adequate levels of potassium in your daily diet.


Increasing Potassium Intake Safely

Taking too much potassium at once can also have dangerous side effects. High potassium intake may result in a condition called hyperkalemia. The dangers of hyperkalemia include tissue damage and heart arrhythmia that can lead to cardiac arrest. Because of the danger of potassium toxicity, nutritional supplements sold in the United States can not contain more than 99 milligrams of potassium per tablet.


Most doctors and health professionals recommend that you get the bulk of your potassium from a high potassium diet. A diet that includes lots of fresh, whole vegetables and fruit, seafood and red meat, and legumes and nuts should provide adequate levels of potassium for most people. Unfortunately, many of us rely on food that’s been processed or treated with preservatives that can deplete the potassium levels found in them naturally. In addition, the high intake of sodium that’s common to the American diet can disrupt the delicate balance between sodium and potassium that’s vital to proper cell function.


Because that balance between sodium and potassium is so vital, many doctors recommend taking potassium in supplement form that includes other essential nutrients. A quality nutritional supplement like Total Balance Unisex from Xtend-Life of New Zealand helps support health by providing a carefully balanced blend of ingredients that interact with each other synergistically and ensure that you get all the benefit possible from a healthy diet.


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