POTASSIUM – The Most Important Electrolyte Yet an Ignored Epidemic

Discover why potassium is the most crucial yet overlooked electrolyte. Learn about its vital roles in the body, symptoms of deficiency, and how to ensure adequate intake through diet

Potassium is often considered the most important electrolyte, essential for a myriad of bodily functions, yet it remains an overlooked epidemic in terms of deficiency.

This vital mineral plays a crucial role in maintaining cellular energy, muscle contraction and relaxation, nerve impulse conduction, pH regulation, and fluid balance.

The sodium-potassium pump, a key mechanism in the body, uses significant energy to transport nutrients, glucose, and other minerals in and out of cells. Despite its importance, many people do not get enough potassium, leading to symptoms like fatigue, muscle weakness, cramping, arrhythmias, constipation, insomnia, and insulin resistance. In this article,

Dr. Berg explores the importance of potassium, the factors contributing to its deficiency, and how to ensure you get the recommended 4,700 to 6,400 milligrams daily through food sources like leafy greens, avocados, nuts, seeds, and certain fish. Discover how maintaining adequate potassium levels can enhance your overall health and well-being.

Potassium is the most important electrolyte

So why is Potassium the most important electrolyte ?

That’s the question for today .

Well , let’s just take a look at 4 main electrolytes .

We have K Plus , which is the chemical symbol for Potassium .

Why potassium is important

We need 47 100 milligrams .

Then we have Sodium which is NA plus 1500 to 23 in 100 milligrams .

Then we have Calcium , CA , we need a 1000 milligrams .

And then Magnesium , we only need 420 milligrams .

So we can see that we need 10 times as much Potassium than we do magnesium .

Then with sodium , we need twice as much potassium .

And with calcium , we need 4 times as much .

So why do we need so much potassium ?

What is an electrolyte?

Well , first of all , what is an electrolyte ?

An electrolyte is an electrically charged mineral .

When you take an electrolyte and you put it in water it separates and becomes conductive to electricity .

What is an electrolyte?

So our bodies use electrolytes for various things to help conduct nerve impulses , to help you contract and relax muscles , to help maintain pH in the body , as well as to help push fluid through the body .

30% of all the energy in our body comes from this little pump called the sodium potassium pump .

But I do have to say that the definition for pump is slightly different than the pump that you probably have down in your basement is the sump pump .

This is a biological definition .

It means the mechanism for movement of electrolytes through the cell membrane .

So that’s a little bit different than just a pump pushing fluid somewhere .

So 30% of all the energy that you have whether it’s digesting or thinking etcetera , 30% of all the energy comes from this sodium potassium pump .

So the purpose of this pump is to basically keep sodium out and keep potassium in .

So it’s keeping these 2 minerals separated .

That’s the purpose of this pump .

Anytime you have 2 different minerals which are electrically charged in a different way , okay , you form a battery .

So with a battery , you have a positive and a negative .

There’s a difference in this electrical charge and that allows for energy to be maintained .

So the purpose of this pump is to maintain cellular energy .

So your cells are basically batteries .

And the battery is there to help generate nerve impulses which happen to be connected to muscles so it’s activating the muscles .

You have electrical impulses that are actually changing the muscle rhythm .

potassium  for muscles contract

Then we need energy to have the muscles contract and relax and help regulate the pH of the body .

And 1 purpose of that is to allow enzymes to work .

So for example there are certain enzymes that actually work in different pH’s .

So if your digestive system is the wrong pH that enzyme won’t work .

Let’s take the stomach for example .

You have this extremely powerful protein enzyme called Peptase , right ?

And that enzyme is activated when the stomach reaches a certain pH level .

If the stomach never reaches that pH level and then the enzyme never becomes activated and then you don’t digest protein .

So the pH is very very important .

And the stomach is greatly dependent on potassium for its pH and its ability to digest protein .

And then we have fluid balance .

If you don’t have enough potassium , guess what ?

Your ankles are gonna swell up with fluid .

Sometimes when you see people with sandals they have this these indentations around the sandals where they have this all this puffy fluid and I just want to walk up to them and tell them just take some potassium .

All that fluid will completely go away probably within a few hours .

But I have to withhold myself from doing that because , sometimes people consider that rude .

What does potassium do?

So what does potassium do ?

Well , it keeps us energetic .

It gives us endurance when we exercise .

If you’re low in potassium , you will not be able to go as far when you exercise .

 prevents cramping like the cramps that you get in your calves

It also prevents cramping like the cramps that you get in your calves or your feet .

Now it could also be magnesium as well .

Also , potassium is necessary to prevent arrhythmias , okay , which is part of the pacemaker of your heart .

It also helps prevent twitching , tremors , constipation because you have this it’s called peristalsis , this pumping action through your colon which is controlled by the nervous system and the muscular system .

So without potassium you don’t get this pumping action through the colon and things just kinda sit there

Also , Potassium is necessary to prevent vascular calcification .

So Potassium is definitely needed in the regulation of calcium .

Now without potassium you get insomnia , you can’t sleep .

So potassium is a physiological tranquilizer .

It relaxes the body much like magnesium does .

So let’s just say for example you’re deficient in potassium for some reason .

You’re gonna lay there on the pillow and try to get to sleep , but your heart’s gonna be pounding faster .

You’re gonna feel your muscles more tense .

You’re not gonna be able to get into that relaxed state .

 insulin resistance

The next thing is Insulin Resistance .

I have a lot of videos on this topic .

Potassium is needed to prevent insulin resistance .

In fact , if you take a diabetic or pre diabetic or someone with insulin resistance , they’re always deficient in potassium .

So potassium will help your blood sugars , it will help lessen this insulin resistance .

And insulin in the cell allows certain nutrients to go inside and fuel .

So anything that inhibits this insulin function stops the absorption of nutrients and fuel into the cells .

So this is just another reason why potassium is important in blood sugars .

Now you also have stored glucose that’s called glycogen .

Glycogen is a string of glucose molecules which also have with it a string of potassium molecules .

So in order for glucose to be stored in the liver and the muscle , you also need potassium .

And without that potassium , you don’t store glycogen as well .

And so if you don’t store glycogen the body then starts storing more fat instead of stored sugar .

And so potassium is involved in a lot of different aspects of your blood sugars .

When you go on the ketogenic diet the requirement for this glycogen goes down , so you’re not gonna need to store as much glycogen .

 intermittent fasting

The same thing goes with when you do intermittent fasting .

So you’re not eating , so your body is then running on ketones , so you’re not running on glucose , so you don’t need as much of this .

So this kind of goes away .

So you’re basically burning it up and it’s not replaced as much especially in your liver after about 1 to 2 days .

And so what happens is you’re gonna lose a lot of glycogen , glucose , and you’re also gonna lose potassium .

This is why when you start on the Ketogenic Diet you need to take a potassium supplement .

I always recommend 1 in electrolytes so you have all of them not just Potassium .

Alright , the next thing that Potassium does is it helps to prevent high blood pressure .

If someone has high blood pressure , the easiest thing to do is just to increase the potassium in their body and it usually will come down .

 vitamin D .

The other cause of high blood pressure is low vitamin D .

And then a lot of times people say , well wait a second , I thought high blood pressure was caused by high sodium .

Well you need sodium and potassium in the right ratios .

So instead of lowering sodium , which by the way you need a certain amount of sodium for a lot of reasons , why not increase potassium ?

Because yes , you might have too much sodium , but in reality you just don’t have enough potassium to deal with that sodium .

So these people that are salt sensitive usually are just potassium deficient .

And another common myth that I’ve heard is that you don’t want to take potassium because it’s very toxic to the kidney .

That’s false information .

In fact , potassium protects your kidneys unless you have stage 5 kidney failure , in which case you have to avoid a lot of different nutrients .

kidney stones .

But if you don’t have end stage kidney failure , potassium is actually beneficial for the kidneys , and I’m gonna put a link down below for those people who have not heard that information before .

In fact , potassium citrate is good for preventing kidney stones .

It’s also good to prevent gout which is uric acid crystals .

So potassium is actually very very good for a lot of different things .

Now I already mentioned this it prevents edema , okay , swelling .

If you have swelling , usually you have an imbalance of too much sodium and not enough potassium .

When you take sufficient potassium , it’s like a diuretic if you have fluid retention .

You will get rid of that excess fluid .

I already mentioned this .

Potassium counters sodium toxicity .

Also I already mentioned that it helps you make stomach acid and I also mentioned it helps prevent gout .

Because Potassium Citrate is alkaline and if you keep the pH correct and don’t allow your pH to become too acidic you won’t have these uric acid crystals coming out of solution aggravating your big toe joint .

Potassium deficiency causes

So now the question is why are we deficient in potassium ?

Well , the number 1 reason is because of the diet .

The average person only consumes about a cup and a half of vegetables every single day .

A cup and a half .

Well , where in food would you get a lot of rich potassium ?

Bananas .

Well , in a banana , it’s only 300 milligrams .

We need 47 100 milligrams .

So if we do the math , you would need 15.6 bananas per day to reach your 47100 requirement .

Now , the problem with bananas is they come with too much sugar .

So bananas are not the best source .

The best source would be leafy greens .

But yes , you would need at least 7 to 10 cups to contribute to this amount .

But realize also other food will contribute so it’s not just the salad .

There’s even potassium in certain things like salmon for example .

And there’s potassium in nuts and seeds and nut butters and so there’s other sources of potassium but the leafy greens have a good amount and it’s fairly easy to eat big salads .

Now , when I say 1 cup , I’m talking about like a small handful which is like 1 ounce .

So you need like a bowl of salad , you could do 1 for your lunch , and then you could do 1 for your dinner to make it really easy .

But I did a video on showing you the amount so I I will put that link down below .

 avocados are loaded with potassium

Now , avocados are loaded with potassium .

1 avocado is roughly about 700 , sometimes 800 milligrams of potassium .

So avocados are really good .

Now I don’t recommend going out and getting a potassium supplement unless there’s a higher amount of potassium like an electrolyte powder because typically the supplements for potassium only come in 99 milligrams .

So you would need , like what , 47 pills every single day , and that’s not very practical .

So I recommend you try as much as you can to get it from your diet or get a good electrolyte powder that has enough of these electrolytes .

Number 2 .

If you are vomiting you’re gonna lose your potassium .

If you have diarrhea you can lose your potassium .

Diuretics are notorious for becoming potassium deficient .

I mean it’s kinda wild that here you are taking a drug for your high blood pressure when that is going to deplete your potassium and create a higher amount of blood pressure .

Doesn’t make sense to me .

Stress .

Stress .

When you have stress you deplete your Potassium reserves .

And by the way , when you actually take Potassium it relaxes your nervous system .

It pulls you out of this stress state .

Sugar depletes your potassium .

Real quick , I have to tell this story .

My wife and I , years ago , right right before we’re getting married , we went to shop around for , wedding cakes .

And we were sampling wedding cakes and we’re eating sugar all day .

This is before I had any awareness on healthy foods at all .

So we ended up , that night at an Italian restaurant and we had pasta , pizza , we had bread , we had wine

We were carved out .

And then we look up and everyone was gone in the restaurant except us , And there were except another guy was going past us with the dessert trays , all the different desserts .

They were actually gonna toss them and , he wanted to know if we wanted to sample some before he tossed them .

And of course I don’t like to see food go to waste .

So I started to dive in and started consuming as much additional dessert as I can cram into my mouth .

Now as I was driving home that night I remember feeling kinda weird .

So I got home and went to bed , tried to go to bed , and I started to hear my this pounding in my ears like boom boom boom boom .

Going , what is going on ?

I had no idea .

That was a severe Potassium deficiency caused by consuming a tremendous amount of refined grains and sugar .

So all this refined grain and sugar literally depletes you of potassium and starts to accelerate the heart rate .

My heart rate was literally going so high my heart was pounding out of my chest .

I didn’t sleep 1 minute .

If I would have known what I know now back then , I would have just either took some potassium or had a big salad to try to replenish some of this lost potassium .

Perfect example of low potassium ..

When you do Keto you need to take potassium because you’re gonna lose fluid which you’re gonna then lose potassium .

 drink alcohol

When you drink alcohol you can deplete your body of potassium .

When you consume excessive fluids , let’s so some people drink gallons of fluid while they’re working out and they’re sweating too and they’re losing not just their sodium electrolyte they’re also losing their potassium .

So they’re gonna become very dehydrated and feel dizzy and weak .

And so , when you drink gallons of water you better be drinking your electrolytes at the same time .

But not just potassium , sodium , too .

And I mentioned this sweating right here .

Okay , diabetes .

Diabetics need or require more potassium and they’re usually always deficient in potassium because of this insulin resistance thing .

So potassium is very very important for diabetics especially .

Yet they’re just retaining sodium like crazy in fluid without the potassium .

Alright , and then we have fasting .

Now the thing about fasting is when you’re fasting especially prolonged fasting sometimes you’re not able to store some of these electrolytes for a long period of time .

So if you’re deficient , you know , whether it’s magnesium or potassium going into a fast and you’re not consuming anything no electrolytes then it’s exaggerated .

You can feel dizzy .

You could pass out .

So this is why when you fast I recommend taking electrolytes .

key Points:

An electrolyte is an electrically charged mineral. The body uses electrolytes for various things, such as:
• To help conduct nerve impulses
• To help contract and relax muscles
• To help maintain pH in the body
• To help push fluid through the body

30% of all of the energy in the body comes from the sodium-potassium pump. The purpose of the pump is basically to maintain cellular energy.

What does potassium do?:
• It provides energy
• It provides endurance during exercise
• It helps prevent cramping
• It helps prevent arrhythmias
• It helps prevent twitching
• It helps prevent tremors
• It helps prevent constipation
• It helps prevent vascular calcification
• It helps prevent insomnia
• It helps prevent insulin resistance
• It helps prevent high blood pressure
• It protects the kidneys
• It helps prevent edema
• It counters sodium toxicity
• It helps make stomach acid
• It helps prevent gout

Causes of a potassium deficiency:
• A lack of potassium in the diet
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Diuretics
• Stress
• Sugar
• Refined carbs
• Keto
• Alcohol
• Consuming excess fluids
• Sweating
• Diabetes
• Fasting

The best sources of potassium:
• Leafy greens (7-10 cups per day)
• Avocados
• Salmon
• Nuts and nut butters
• Seeds
• An electrolyte powder high in potassium

FAQ:

Why is potassium the most important electrolyte?

Potassium is crucial for maintaining proper cell function, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction, including the heart. It helps regulate fluid balance, blood pressure, and acid-base balance in the body. Adequate potassium levels are essential for overall health and preventing conditions like hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

Why is potassium important?

Potassium is vital for maintaining normal cell function, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction. It helps regulate fluid balance, blood pressure, and the body’s acid-base balance. Adequate potassium intake is necessary for preventing hypertension, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues.

Why are most people deficient in potassium?

Many people are deficient in potassium due to poor dietary habits, such as insufficient intake of fruits and vegetables. High consumption of processed foods, which are low in potassium and high in sodium, can also contribute to deficiency. Additionally, certain medications and medical conditions can lead to potassium loss.

What is the clinical significance of potassium?

Potassium is clinically significant because it plays a key role in maintaining normal heart function, muscle contractions, and nerve signals. Imbalances in potassium levels can lead to serious health issues such as arrhythmias, muscle weakness, and even cardiac arrest. Monitoring and managing potassium levels is crucial for patients with conditions like hypertension, heart disease, and kidney disorders.

potassium and blood pressure

emphasizes the importance of potassium in regulating blood pressure. Adequate potassium intake can help lower high blood pressure by balancing out the negative effects of sodium. Potassium relaxes blood vessel walls, reducing the risk of hypertension and promoting cardiovascular health.

Best potassium supplement

The best potassium supplement varies depending on individual needs. Look for supplements that provide a bioavailable form of potassium, such as potassium citrate or potassium gluconate. Dr. Berg’s Potassium Powder is a popular choice due to its high-quality formulation and ease of use.

Potassium electrolyte supplement

Potassium electrolyte supplements help replenish lost electrolytes and maintain proper hydration and muscle function. These supplements are especially useful for athletes, individuals with high sweat loss, or those on diuretic medications. They support overall electrolyte balance and prevent muscle cramps and fatigue.

Potassium electrolyte powder

Potassium electrolyte powder is a convenient way to boost potassium intake and maintain electrolyte balance. It is ideal for athletes, individuals with high physical activity levels, or those experiencing dehydration. This powder helps prevent muscle cramps, supports hydration, and promotes overall health.

Dr. Berg

I am a health educator specializing in weight loss through nutritional and natural methods such as the keto diet plan and intermittent fasting

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