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While there's a good deal known about the benefits of potassium, science is not entirely certain of exactly how it offers those benefits.
Potassium acts as an electrolyte,taking on a positive or negative charge that helps regulate blood pressure, muscle contraction and keep
your bodily processes working right. In order to keep your bodily systems working together, your body needs to maintain electrolytes like potassium, sodium and chloride in a careful balance
Potassium's other role in the body is to help in the metabolism of sugar to glycogen to provide energy for your daily tasks. Glycogen can be stored by the muscles and liver and released when the body calls for it. Thus another of the benefits of potassium is in helping your body store energy for later use without converting it to fat.
A diet high in foods that are rich in potassium offers you the benefits of potassium without a potassium supplement, helping to protect you against heart disease and stroke, according to many studies. In at least one study, people who had one serving of a food high in potassium decreased their risk of having a stroke by about 40%. In another study, researchers gave potassium supplements to people with normal blood pressure, and tracked their blood pressure over the course of time. Those taking potassium supplements reduced their risk of developing high blood pressure by 25%.
Researchers gave 54 adults with high blood pressure a list of foods high in potassium with instructions to eat 4-6 servings daily. Within twelve months, 81% were able to decrease their daily dosage of high blood pressure medication. Similar results have been obtained using potassium supplements, making it clear that reducing hypertension is among the benefits of potassium and potassium supplements.
While a seriously low level of potassium is rare, it can happen if you lose large amounts of fluids through diarrhea, vomiting or sweating. It's most common among people who take diuretics, or among those who have a rare endocrine disorder like Liddle's syndrome or Fanconi's syndrome. The symptoms of potassium deficiency are muscle weakness and twitching, paralysis and abnormal heart rhythms.
What happens far more often in cases of short term illnesses that include diarrhea and vomiting is a short term imbalance of potassium. Most of the time, your body can correct itself without the need for potassium supplements. If, however, diarrhea is particularly severe or lasts for longer than 24 hours, or is accompanied by dehydration, low potassium levels can develop into a more serious problem.
Even more common is a low potassium level in relation to sodium levels - or an imbalance of electrolytes in your body. In order to derive the full benefits of potassium, most experts recommend that you should take in about five times the amount of potassium as you do of sodium. The standard Western diet, however, generally contains twice the sodium it does of potassium. For this reason, many whole health practitioners recommend you take potassium citrate supplements to make up the deficiency.
If you're concerned about getting enough potassium in your diet, your best course of action is to eat a lot of foods that are rich in potassium. The list of foods high in potassium below will help you add potassium into your diet. Remember that 3-6 servings daily of foods off the list of foods high in potassium can help lower high blood pressure and stave heart disease.
If you choose to take potassium supplements, most doctors and health practitioners recommend potassium citrate as the most bioavailable and easily absorbed of the several forms of potassium supplements available. You may also choose, as we do, to get our additional potassium as part of a whole health all natural nutritional supplement like
Total Balance from Xtend-Life Natural Products. Total Balance offers all the benefits of potassium supplements along with a fully balanced complement of all needed nutrients for your body's optimal health.