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March 2, 2011

Special K!

No, not the cereal, K is for Kalium, or potassium as we now call it.  One of the first natural health legends I learned about was a man named Karl Jurak.  The story goes that he was a youth enjoying the Austrian high country, when suddenly he lost all of his strength.  After being forced to wait for rescue, he dedicated his life to combating weakness and fatigue.  He created the KM formula now sold as Natrol.  Back in the day, those who made tonics kept their ingredient lists closely guarded.  Now we know that KM/Natrol’s main ingredient is a substantial dose of potassium.

Potassium carries electrical signals throughout the brain, nerves and muscles.  It is the most abundant electrolyte inside our cells.  Although it is measured in most blood tests, the blood only shows how much potassium is outside our cells.  Since 99% of it is inside the cells, our stores have to get quite low before this shows up as a critical value in lab tests.

Many have argued that pre-modern humans consumed over 10 times as much potassium as sodium.  Now the average American consumes far too much sodium and far too little potassium – they are in nearly equal ratios in the typical diet.  This disparity wears out our kidneys and our blood vessels.

How much potassium should we consume?  The latest report suggests that 4700 mg daily is an adult minimum.  How many bananas is this?  At least 7.  Don’t worry, potassium is abundant in the diet; all produce has lots of it, as do most beans and dairy products.

Potassium pills are over the counter, but they are legally restricted from having more than 99 mg pill.  This is because many prescription medications are not compatible with potassium supplements.

There is a version of salt called Lite Salt that has more potassium than sodium.  It actually tastes fine and works great for cooking.  It even supplies the right amounts of iodine.  There also is one called Nu Salt and another called Salt Substitute that are pure potassium with no sodium.  Um, sounds great but you won’t buy them twice – they taste really bad.

What are the best 10 food sources of potassium?  Bananas don’t even make the list, check them out:

Sweet potatoes

Orange juice

Beet green

White potatoes

White beans






If there is anyone anywhere that hasn’t tried the 5 a day drink yet, it is the easiest way I know of to get your potassium.

Next time your tired, cramped, sore or grumpy, try some extra potassium and get your mojo back!

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