Potassium tablets are a very poor substitute for the natural potassium that you can get in your food and if you think about it, there are a number of advantages in relying on food sources for potassium when compared with taking tablets.
The first of those is that food sources actually can contain 8 or more times the amount of potassium than the single potassium tablet may do. Most green vegetables are quite high in potassium, things like brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus and cooked spinach for instance has over 800 mg per cup so with 3 servings of green vegetables each day, that could quiet easily add up to 2,500 to 3,000 mg of potassium from a natural source.
The other advantage of choosing a natural source like that is of course, that it enters the body slowly and being biological in origin, that type of potassium is far more readily used in the various bodily processes that require it just for them to work properly.
What is the ratio?
It is a fact that our body does need potassium but being slightly lacking in potassium is not as crucial as some might imagine.
What’s more important is the ratio between potassium and sodium in the standard American diet or to some extent even the standard western diet. The amount of salt that is found in processed foods is quite frankly dangerously high, again not so much because there is a lot of salt but simply because there is very, very little potassium to go with it.
So you might be wondering, what is the ratio? At a minimum it should be 1:1 that is for every 1 gm of salt you have, you should have 1 gm of potassium in your food. However it’s far better to have a slightly more potassium than sodium or salt if you prefer because potassium plays a crucial role in so many body functions.
We need potassium for muscle contraction, neurotransmission, glycogen formation, heart and kidney functions and adrenal functions and a whole host of other things. If we don’t have potassium then that could give rise to things like water retention, muscular weakness and cramps, constipation, heart irregularities, hypertension and raised blood pressure.
Now while I said we need to make sure that our potassium intake is slightly higher than our salt intake, that doesn’t mean to say that we should cut down on salt because salt is also crucial for many of our bodily functions and you’ll quite often find it used in the same process as potassium. For instance in things like muscle contraction as well as throughout our whole nervous system.
I would also encourage people to stay away from commercially produced salt simply because commercially produced are man made salt and has quite a few things added to it that you wouldn’t really put in your body if you knew they were there at a choice. They’re mainly put in to commercial salt to act as flow agents or to absorb moisture, things like aluminosilicate and ferrocyanide.
In Europe, we also have to put up with fluoride being added to our table salt which is why it is important as much as possible to try and use salt from natural sources. The advantage of that is that natural salt is only around about 85% sodium chloride the rest is made up of natural trace minerals which include things like phosphorus, silicon, vanadium and others which are also going to aid the various chemical processes that go on in the body day by day.
Another point to bear in mind is the ratio between our salt and potassium intake and how much we drink each day. This becomes even more crucial for people who are involved in physical activity and it is obviously much more healthier to balance these things out to fit our activity level, lifestyle and general health needs.
So how much is too much potassium? Much of that would depend on how much salt you consume. The more salts you have the more potassium you should be having preferably from natural sources and as our daily intake of salt, for active people at least, is recommended to be between approximately 2,000 gm and 4,000 mg each day. That will at least provide a base level for how much potassium you should be taking in order to balance that out nicely.
This is a vastly complex subject. I’ve done my best to bring out just the salient points here that is worth noting and not only should we make sure we have adequate levels of potassium but also manganese and calcium as these form a delicate balance of electrolytes in our body that are crucial for good bodily function.