Before we begin, today is Yom Kippur. It marks the culmination of the 10 Days of Awe, a period of introspection and repentance. I want to say to all of our friends who celebrate, “Gmar Chatimah Tova. May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for Good”.
As I prepared this blog, I was once again stunned by the incredible intimate exacting functions of the body; every cell, every ion, has its role and its function. And our survival depends on the body’s ability and willingness to do all this for us, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for our entire lives. Miraculous.
POTASSIUM IS THE MAJOR POSITIVE ION IN OUR CELLS.
Potassium is one of the most important minerals in the body. It helps regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions and nerve signals. Having enough potassium in your diet may help reduce blood pressure and water retention, protect against stroke and prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones.
Potassium is the chief positive ion inside the cells and is required for normal neuromuscular functioning, as well as for a host of other metabolic activities. Even slight changes in potassium in your extracellular fluids may have profound and life-threatening effects or your neurons (nerve cells) and muscle fibers because the balance of positive and negative ions affects the ability of the cells to function.
Potassium is part of the body’s buffer system, which balances changes in the acidity of the cells. This system manages changes in the pH of body fluids. Shifts of hydrogen ions into and out of cells force shifts of potassium in the opposite direction to maintain positive/negative balance. Although these shifts do not change the amount of potassium in the body, too little potassium can interfere with the functioning of essential cells and lead to serious illness or death.
The kidneys absorb more potassium than the body needs, then release it into the bloodstream as it is needed to maintain balance. But the kidneys have a limited ability to retain potassium, so it may be lost in the urine even though it is needed.
The heart is especially sensitive to potassium levels. Adequate potassium may also make your blood vessels less stiff, so they can expand when the heart pushes blood through them. And a higher potassium level (3500 to 4700 mg per day), studies show, may lower your risk of stroke by more than 30%.
Since, too much salt raises blood pressure; getting enough potassium can counter this effect. Most Americans eat too much salt; and a higher intake of potassium may help control – lower – blood pressure.
Because potassium helps us to build muscles, helps our muscles work properly and helps us convert the food we eat into energy, it is particularly important to those of us who have weight loss goals because it helps to provide the energy we need, allowing our muscles (including our heart) to work more efficiently and effectively and ensuring a proper balance of electrolytes.
Symptoms of lack of potassium are muscle weakness, paralysis, nausea, and heart failure. Potassium is absorbed with water in the intestines. If anything interferes with water absorption, then absorption of potassium will be decreased. Adequate potassium has been shown to reduce fatigue, and increases our energy and sense of wellbeing.
Potassium is found in meats, dairy products, and many fruits and grains. But the best sources of potassium are citrus fruits, bananas, cantaloupe, raisins, and kiwi. And the dark green leafy vegetables, like broccoli, beans, peas, squash, and tomatoes are great sources. Nuts, soy foods, salmon, cod, flounder and sardines are also good sources. It is estimated that 95% of Americans get too little potassium in their diets.
We need to get potassium from fruits and vegetables, in preference to supplements, because the other compounds in the food help the body maintain its acid/alkali balance, and too little potassium, and the other compounds in the foods, may affect the functioning of every cell and organ in the body, especially neuron transmission in the brain, regular beating of your heart, and the loss of calcium from the bones. So, eating our fruits and vegetables become almost essential to our survival.
As I researched this article, I was amazed at the extraordinary complexity of the functions our bodies perform for us, every day, all night long, without our even noticing!
Blessings to you,