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Understanding the Electrolytes

The Electrolytes

How does potassium work & what does sodium have to do with it?

Potassium is one of the ‘key electrolytes‘ we need for the proper function of many of our body systems. In the absence of sufficient levels of potassium, our certain bodily functions break down.

Nutrients do not act alone. All nutrients interact with at least one other nutrient.

Potassium and sodium work together in the tissues and fluids of our body, and each use of potassium requires use of corresponding amount of sodium to maintain perfect health balance.

Both potassium and sodium are cations, or positively charged ions. The concentration of potassium is much higher in the fluid inside our tissue cells than outside, while sodium is found in much higher concentrations in the bodily fluid outside our cells compared to the inside. The difference in the concentrations of these ions (potassium and sodium) on each side of the cell membrane allows for a phenomenon known as a ‘membrane potential.’

The membrane potential uses the charge difference to transmitting and receiving electrical impulses between the cells. For example, such electrical impulses help perform the work of contracting muscles and maintaining our heartbeat rhythm.

kidneys

Our kidneys control our blood pressure by controlling the amount of fluid stored in our body. The more fluid we have stored in our body, the higher our blood pressure. Balanced sodium and potassium levels in our bloodstream help our kidneys in the process of blood filtration and extraction of extra water across walls of blood cells (which is stored in our bladder as urine).

Maintaining the right balance –roughly three times more potassium than sodium in our diet– is essential for optimal health.

Eating excessive levels of salt raises the amount of sodium which wrecks the delicate balance, reducing the ability of our kidneys to remove the water.

As with sodium, potassium deficiency tends to occur when our body increases from diuretic use, excessive vomiting or diarrhea, overuse of laxatives and alcoholism.

 

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