Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sodium Vs. Potassium

There is a lot of confusion about sodium and its partner potassium. They play a very important role in regulating fluid exchange within body compartments. As such, blood levels of these electrolytes are rarely affected only by dietary means. That makes sense, if they are so integral to function, your body must have a lot of defense mechanisms to keep the blood values of them within narrow range. These two minerals play a major role in blood pressure. Keeping blood pressure within a normal range is very important because it reduces the risk of heart failure, coronary heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. In general, the higher the person’s salt intake, the higher the individual’s blood pressure.

Sodium intake in the United States regularly exceeds the recommended daily amount of less than 2300 milligrams. Since sodium makes up about 40% of salt, this amount is about a tea spoon of table salt a day.

There is about 4500 milligrams of sodium in a typical western diet, but this truly depends on the region where you live in. Since the body only requires 500 milligrams of sodium per day, this means many of us are taking almost ten times what we need. However, it’s not practical to only consume the body biological requirement. Sodium is in a lot of different foods, so it’s really practical (almost impossible) to reduce your sodium intake to that minimum requirement.

Along with this problem of sodium overconsumption is the under-consumption of its “antagonist”: potassium. Higher potassium intake helps to lower blood pressure by blunting the effects of sodium. Diets rich in potassium are also associated with a reduced risk of developing kidney stones as well as reduction of bone lose with age.

What are the functions of these wonderful electrolytes? Sodium and potassium are necessary for the regulation of blood and other fluids, they stimulate the action of muscular activity, proper gland function and heart activity. They are also really important for maintaining what is called the electrochemical gradients. Sodium is essential for hydration because it pumps water into your cells. Potassium functions in the pumping of byproducts or waste products out of the cell. They really serve as the body’s fluid regulator and waste product regulator.

How much sodium and potassium do I need? I cannot stress this enough: in general, healthy adults should consume no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium per day. African Americans, individuals from middle age or older and individuals with high blood pressure should aim to consume no more 1500 milligrams per day.

What about potassium? The recommended amount for adults is 4700 milligrams. You can see that you need much more potassium than sodium.

Sources of Sodium (try to avoid them as much as you can if you are a normal healthy adult):

1 teaspoon of salt2300 milligrams
1 cup cottage cheese, 2% fat746 milligrams
2 slices ham, extra lean601 milligrams

Great Sources of Potassium:

1 medium sweet potato, baked694 mg
1 medium potato, baked, with skin610 milligrams
1 banana467 milligrams
1 cup milk, 1%–2% fat366 milligrams
1 cup broccoli, steamed505 milligrams
1 cup tomatoes399 milligrams
1 cup carrots, raw394 milligrams


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  3. Surgeon stops the heart with potassium.
    Potassium rich food makes the human sterile.
    This is a lie, Pablo you are wrong.
    The correct ration is much of sodium and less potassium.
    30 to 1, like in see water.
    For crops too the potassium based fertilizer is a poison, which leads to sterilization of that crop.
    This is the best misconception which leads to population reduction.

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