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Important Information on Potassium and Sodium

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Here’s some important information on potassium and sodium.

There is a big push to lower sodium in the diet, in order to lower blood pressure. But what’s almost always missed is a discussion of potassium. Since an excess of sodium always means a deficiency of potassium, let’s take a closer look at the other mineral—potassium.

With the exception of calcium and phosphorus, potassium is the most abundant mineral in the body. Most of the potassium in your body is present in your cells as compared to sodium, which is outside the cells. When these two minerals go out of balance, several problems can occur:

  • Edema, or fluid retention, in your ankles, fingers and around the eyes.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Anxiety or feelings of excess stress.
  • Higher cholesterol.
  • Blood sugar problems.
  • Water weight.

Think about this fact: In the body, normally, you have four times the amount of potassium to sodium. Yet in the American diet, people are consuming four times the amount of sodium to potassium—just the reverse.

People are eating too many sodium foods and not eating enough potassium foods. Not only that, but certain foods and activities deplete potassium. Stress, for example, can cause potassium to be lost through the urine. This leaves a person with extra sodium, fluid retention and higher blood pressure. Potassium is the physiologically relaxing mineral, which calms the body. Without potassium, the person will get irritated, on edge and nervous. This is why you need to consume high-potassium foods when you are stressed.

Chips, salty cheese puffs, pretzels, canned foods, they all have high sodium. Foods with MSG (all fast-food restaurants) have huge amounts of sodium. Consuming refined sugars and grains also deplete potassium. Cooked and canned foods also deplete potassium.

If the normal ratio of potassium to sodium is four to one, wouldn’t it make sense to find a food that has this exact ratio?

Well, nature has already provided us with a food in perfect balance.

It is the vegetable family. Kale, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, avocados, peppers, lettuce, beets, sprouts, carrots and celery, all have excellent amounts of potassium and very low quantities of sodium. Beans also have a high level of potassium. Get your minerals from whole foods, not from concentrated individual mineral supplements.

Just try this for one night and see how it works: Consume four sticks of celery one hour before bed and see how you sleep. You’ll feel calmer, your blood pressure will be down, and you’ll wake up with less fluid retention. It will work with other vegetables as well, but celery is one of the highest potassium foods.

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