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Potassium: The Most Important Electrolyte
Dr. Eric Berg
If you take salt and put it into water and dissolve, it disassociates the sodium and chloride disconnects, and they become two separate minerals.
And that fluid is very electrically conductive.
So, basically, electrolytes have to do with minerals that help control electricity in the body. They also control many bodily functions.
The electrolytes you have and need are:
All of those minerals.
Potassium: The Highest RDA of All Minerals - and the Hardest to Get
Now, potassium out of all the electrolytes, is the one that we need in very large quantities. I was curious, why is that? Why do we need potassium in such large amounts - 4 700 to 6 400 milligrams a day.
That's 7 to 10 cups plus of salad or vegetable a day.
That's a HUGE amount of necessary potassium, and such a high requirement that is very hard to meet.
There's something in the body called the sodium-potassium pump. It's built into a little protein, attached to an enzyme on the surface of your cells.
You have 800 000 to 30 million of these in your body. They're little generators that allow things to enter into the cells and they take a lot of energy to work.
In fact, one third of all the food you eat goes to running those pumps. You also have another pump in the stomach called the hydrogen-potassium ATP - and it's a pump to help you create stomach acid, helping you digest foods.
These pumps are in various places in the body, including the muscles and the nervous system. In fact, the ones in your nervous system takes up 60% of your body's calorie intake of energy.
So, these pumps are critically important in exchanging nutrition, glucose, amino acids, and other minerals to allow them to transport in and out of the cell.
So, potassium is ESSENTIAL for building the pumps that control these functions:
Potassium charges the cells - that voltage powers your cell and allows things to go in and out of cells - in fact, that energy that you have that powers your metabolism is controlled partially by this little pump.
Potassium gives you energy.
Potassium helps the muscles to contract or relax by controlling the transport of calcium.
So, if you're low on something and this pump is missing, you'll get muscle cramps from lack of calcium. But then, we can only fix that by giving you potassium, not calcium.
So the muscle needs this pump. The nerves need this pump to conduct electricity.
Fluid, the hydration of your body, is controlled by this pump, and your overall physical energy is controlled by this pump.
So if you don't eat enough vegetables, you can experience a set of symptoms like this:
Fatigue can come from a potassium deficiency because your cells are going to be down in terms of their electricity and you cannot pump anymore.
The problem is if you try to take a potassium pill, it only provides maybe 40 to 90 milligrams of potassium and you need 4 700 milligrams, so you'd have to have a whole bottle of them. Plus, if you take that much potassium without other minerals, you would want to get your potassium from food and food concentrates.
Other symptoms are energy fatigue and muscle fatigue. You'll have a lack of endurance and heavy legs.
Nerves: If the nerves are tired and the electrical impulses won't work, you'll have arrhythmias and alterations in beat problems and atrial fibrillation.
Fluid and fluid retention also indicate a potassium deficiency.
But what doctors tell you is to decrease salt which is a big mistake.
Also, there is a lack of energy in the cells.
In the stomach, without enough potassium, you cannot create the acid you need to metabolize proteins and absorb other minerals.
Why You Become Potassium Deficient
You need 7 to 10 cups of vegetables or salad a day to achieve this. I enhance this with food concentrates if I can't get the quantity of vegetables I need.
I use my wheatgrass juice powder. That gives me a lot of potassium and magnesium to spike that sodium-potassium pump and to boost my energy as well.
Vomiting, diarrhea, and surgery will also decrease potassium in the body.
That's because surgery creates a lot of stress which virtually causes the body to dump out potassium. Likewise, stress will decrease your potassium levels.
Let's look at the SIBA Encyclopedia for Endocrinology, which notes that "Adrenal stress creates potassium loss."
Sugar also creates a potassium deficiency.
Insulin is the hormone that helps you absorb nutrients, but it also helps everything be stored as fat.
If you have insulin resistance, then, you cannot pull nutrients into the cell, which is why you're craving sweets by the way. See, insulin acts as a trigger of the sodium-potassium pump. Being insulin resistant, you're not absorbing enough potassium. That's why you get these sugar cravings. The body is telling you it needs something badly for energy that you're not giving it enough of.
It's very difficult to fix diabetes without enough potassium, which means - without enough vegetables.
So, if you eat more potassium, your need for insulin would be decreased as well.
Diuretics will also leach potassium out of the body.
A good way to tell you if you're potassium deficient is that your blood pressure goes up, and you don't absorb calcium as needed.
Too much salt in the diet can deplete potassium.
Alcohol can also deplete potassium.
AND ketogenic diets can cause potassium to plummet.
That's the reason why I tell you to consume more vegetable when you take a high-fat diet, so you can replenish the potassium and feel better.
A lot of time, you'll not only dump fat, you'll dump water, and all of this will cause potassium to drop and, consequently, your energy levels. It's not the fiber, it's the potassium in the food that will flush the liver out, will help those pumps work better, and will keep that fat off the liver.
So, I hope this has given you an enhanced understanding of what potassium does in the body.
Hope this helped and I'll talk to you soon.
Understand the benefits of potassium and see more Nutrition Advice from Dr. Berg Video Blog.
- Dr. Eric Berg