Learn what your sodium-potassium ratio should be, what the symptoms of a high Na-K ratio are, and how to correct the problem naturally with hair analysis.
Sodium-Potassium Balance Importance – Na-K Balance
Electrolytes laced sports drinks re-hydrate you quickly, and you’ll find the sodium, potassium, and magnesium added in to provide those nutrients. But, why?
Your doctor may have talked to you about your electrolytes, your sodium, and potassium, but may not have explained why they are so important. They may have told you to decrease your sodium intake or your salt intake, and increase your potassium by taking supplements, eating bananas or apricots, or adjusting it with medication.
What is the Na-K Ratio?
The sodium-potassium ratio is a measure of those two specific electrolytes in your body and how they affect various biological functions. Some of these functions include cell permeability, stress and hormones, and illness and recovery. If one or the other electrolyte becomes too high or low, it could result in severe illness or even death.
Your hair mineral analysis is imperative for you to know what your body is doing and how you can correct potential problems. It tells you how your body is behaving and can give you a warning of an issue long before the doctor does.
On your hair mineral analysis, you will see the Na-K ratio on the bottom of the sheet. This number will reflect what your average Na-K balance has been over the past month. We want to see this number to be approximately 2.50 on your analysis. If your result is higher, you possibly have too much sodium, if lower, you may have too much potassium.
In your blood, we want to see a much higher level of potassium than sodium. However, the average American diet is highly skewed towards much more sodium than potassium. This results in high blood pressure, increased risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and kidney disease.
More notably, if the sodium-potassium ratio is unbalanced, we see a much higher level of metal toxicity in the cells. Heavy metals, toxic metals, and waste products accumulate, throwing off the sodium-potassium ratio. This metal accumulation has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, fatigue, suppressed organ function, and inability to lose weight. But, more importantly, the ability of your cells to absorb nutrients, oxygen, and hormones is severely hampered.
Sodium, Potassium, and Cell Permeability
Each cell in our body has a particular transport system to move nutrients from your blood into the cell. This transport system is called the Sodium-Potassium Pump. It is an active transport process that is governed by the amounts of sodium and potassium within and outside the cell. It’s especially crucial to our nerve cells.
Keeping a higher amount of sodium outside of the cells and a higher amount of potassium inside the cells works through several chemical reactions that provide energy and inertia to move other nutrients, toxins, and waste products in or out of the cells. This balance is critical for our survival and linked to adrenal fatigue.
Keeping this balance where it should be, means nutrients and waste move in and out of the cells efficiently. If we come to close to an equal ratio between sodium and potassium (equilibrium), we slow down the cell permeability to the point that nothing can get in or out, and the cell dies.
If our sodium levels get too high, it could cause water, toxins, and nutrients to flow out of the cells too quickly, causing dehydration. Now, the cells have to work extra hard, leading to fatigue and disease. High blood pressure is one of the conditions resulting from too much sodium pushed into the bloodstream.
The opposite is true if we have too much potassium. It could cause too much fluid to flow into the cell (trying to dilute the sodium), literally causing it to burst.
What Happens When the Sodium-Potassium Balance is Off?
What does it feel like when your sodium-potassium balance is off? Most of the time, we see signs of stress in the body and the mind. People feel a lot of fatigue, emotional conflict, lowered vitality, more anxiety, frustration, irritability, resentment, unexplained anger, and feelings of being stuck. You may find your craving sugary foods to offset some of the salts you have built up.
Physically, you may have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, suppressed adrenal function, or liver problems. Kidney issues also show up when your sodium or potassium is unbalanced, but this is often a late-stage form reflecting exhaustion.
Many people find aldosterone and other inflammatory hormones increased when they have too much sodium in their system. These inflammatory hormones can suppress serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which can make you feel depressed and tired.
For some people, a high-level of Na/K can show hidden copper toxicity. This is especially true if people find their metabolism has dramatically slowed down, and they put on a lot of weight they just can’t get off.
Too much sodium can also throw off your ability to absorb and metabolize zinc and iron. With a high Na/K ratio, iron may deposit between joints and cause pain and inflammation. This elevated Sodium/Potassium depresses zinc stores,which is responsible for helping absorb and utilize potassium as well as magnesium thus helping us ward off illness.
What You Can Do Right Now
If you’re eating a lot of processed foods or adding a lot of iodized salt to your meals, we do recommend cutting back. It will help move many of your results back into normal ranges. Focus on vegetables as the central part of your diet, healthy fats, and some animal protein.
However, you may not have a high sodium level because you’re overeating salt. It could be caused by several other factors, so you want to talk to a nutritionist who specializes in hair analysis, like me. We can determine where the excess sodium in your diet is coming from and how to balance your sodium and potassium without affecting the other minerals you need.
And drink plenty of spring water for additional minerals. It may help to clear out excess sodium and brings balance back to your body. Many brands will add fluoride without listing it on the label, so if you would like recommendations, I can help.