What is the Importance of Potassium?

Potassium is an important mineral for the normal functioning of the body. Potassium is also an electrolyte , which means it can conduct electricity in your cells. Also, Potassium works with another mineral such as sodium . to keep the body’s water level balanced.

Potassium levels in the body are regulated by the kidneys and excess potassium is excreted in the urine to maintain a potassium – sodium balance . Taking potassium supplements should only be done on the advice of your doctor.

Hypokalemia : Hypokalemiarefers to an abnormally low concentration of potassium in the body and is usually a result of a loss of excess potassium after long periods of vomiting, the use of some diuretics, metabolic problems, or kidney disease.

Potassium loss can also be caused by an excessive intake of licorice. Factors that can contribute to hypokalemia include use of diuretics such as furosemide or thiazide, severe diarrhea or laxative abuse, alcoholism, and bulimia or anorexia nervosa.

High Blood Pressure: Individuals who have an adequate intake of potassium appear to have a lower risk of high blood pressure and stroke. A 2001 article in the journal “Circulation” cited a study where more than 43,000 men at risk for stroke were followed for eight years.

The study found that men who had higher dietary potassium intake had a lower risk of stroke. In addition, another study conducted in 2002 in “The American Journal of Medical Sciences” also concluded that increasing potassium in the diet can decrease the risk of high blood pressure.

Healthy Bones: Osteoporosis is a bone disease where mineral density is decreased, which in turn increases the risk of fracture. This disease is seen predominantly in menopausal and postmenopausal women and in elderly men.

Additionally, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported on a 2002 study that followed bone mass density and potassium intake through fruits and vegetables in elderly men and women for four years. The study concluded that adequate levels of potassium in the diet increased bone density and decreased the risk of osteoporosis.

 

Athletes is Potassium: During strenuous activity, potassium resources are depleted through sweating and muscle use. Athletes, or anyone who performs strenuous tasks, may need a higher amount of potassium to prevent heart irregularities and muscle pain.

Foods that are rich in potassium include potatoes, sweet potatoes , oranges , orange juice , prunes, plum juice, tomatoes , spinach and almonds. Adequate potassium intake is 4,700mg per day for adults.

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