Achieving electrolyte balance is a key step in getting to a place of optimal health. It isn’t an easy thing to do, what with the stress of everyday life (robs your body of potassium), working out hard (lose sodium) and trying to deal with out toxic environment. But, with a little bit of time and effort, you can get it right.
The key issue is getting the right balance of potassium and sodium everyday in your diet to attain electrolyte balance in the long term. As I mentioned in my previous blog on electrolyte balance, you need to get about a 2:1 ratio of potassium over sodium. As you recall, this is not what the average person living in the Western world is getting. According to research, we are nowhere near that ratio, as is evidenced by this important paper. In it they state that it is estimated that only 3% of Americans get the daily need of 4,700 mgs of potassium. That is insane!!! As they put it “Adequate dietary potassium is important for heart and bone health and reduces the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.”
We already have been made aware that many people get more than enough sodium, typically 3,300-3,400 mgs a day but that is only 1 gram more than is recommended. Potassium deficit’s are a much greater problem in my opinion. The best way is by increasing your dietary intake like I mentioned in the previous blog.
Now it sounds to some that I’m being a bit too repetitive on increasing potassium but the data out there shows that it is a crises in the making. Athletes are a group that needs to be aware of this, especially those who cramp a lot. Recently, I did a podcast interview with the guts at Clean Health in Sydney, Australia on the subject of electrolyte balance and athletes (you can find it on iTunes or other podcatchers). In it, I recount a conversation I had with a trainer where they mentioned another “biochemist” claiming that athletes do not need additional potassium as when tested after working out, their levels were high.
What the skeptic failed to realize is that most potassium is intracellular (inside the cell) and when looking at a blood test, you are measuring the extracellular (outside the cell) amounts. Athletes, especially high performing ones, are breaking up cells when they work out which would naturally increase their extracellular levels for a short time but that does not mean they don’t need it. Quite often they cramp precisely because they don’t have enough potassium. Electrolyte balance is key in preventing cramping and improving performance.
So next time you’re out looking for a electrolyte that is truly balanced, make sure it has a 2-1 ratio of potassium over sodium like the ones at KTS Products.