Potassium Deficiency and Potassium Rich Food

Potassium represents 5% percent of the total mineral content of a human body, even though only about one litre is found in the body at a time. Potassium is found in our bodies both inside and outside cells and is a very important mineral required every day to stay healthy. More than 98% of the body's potassium is intracellular. The body easily absorbs potassium, but nearly 90% of it is excreted through the kidneys and bowels. Thus, potassium is a natural diuretic and is important for the elimination of body wastes, such as water and sodium.

Potassium is a primary electrolyte, it is a great alkalizer, and important for maintaining pH and water balance.

Benefits of potassium:

1. Along with other minerals such as sodium, chloride and calcium, potassium helps in normal cellular function, such as transmission of nerve impulses, digestion, healthy muscle contractions, proper cardiovascular functioning (heartbeat irregularities are normally a sign of potassium deficiency), and helping the body to convert glucose into glycogen (the body's stored form of energy).

2. Potassium helps promote healthy cardiovascular health. It is strongly believed that potassium has the ability to pump sodium out of the body?s cells and reduce body fluid.

3. Potassium, along with sodium, helps to regulate blood pressure. Increasing potassium in the diet may protect against hypertension in people who are sensitive to high levels of sodium.

4. Potassium also affects blood vessel tone as well as the way blood vessels react to the flowing hormones, thus affecting pressure within blood vessels.

5. Potassium therapeutically assists in the treatment of alcoholism, acne, alleviating allergies, promoting the early healing of burns.

6. It also helps with problems such as congestive heart failure, chronic fatigue syndrome or kidney stones.

7. Potassium plays a vital role in cellular integrity by regulating the transfer of nutrients into the cell.

8. Potassium also attracts oxygen to tissues, helps correct positioning of vital organs. Potassium deficiency indicates that probably albumin, sugar, sodium, and chlorine are also in short supply or not being properly absorbed.

9. Potassium helps proper functioning of the adrenal glands. It helps support healthy sugar balance in the body.

Deficiency of potassium ?

The kidneys excrete excess potassium from the body, and deficiencies are rarely found in people on a normal balanced diet. A deficiency may result in fatigue, cramping legs, muscle weakness, sluggish reflexes, acne, dry skin, mood swings and irregular heartbeat.

A shortage of potassium in body may cause a fatal condition known as hypokalemia, resulting from diarrhoea, increased diuresis and vomiting. Hypokalemia can occur in people with a chronic disease or due to ageing process. Deficiency symptoms include muscle weakness, ECG abnormalities, decreased reflex response, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia and respiratory paralysis.

If the fluid and electrolyte balance is not restored, the risk of heart failure increases.

Potassium deficiency increases acid levels in the body, lowers the natural pH balance, causes problems with the formation of connective tissue. Kidney diseases (such as acute renal failure), diabetes can also cause fluctuations in the levels of potassium. Many medications such as diuretics, cortisone, prolonged use of aspirin, and laxatives also cause depletion of potassium.

Dietary sources of potassium:

Eating a variety of foods that contain potassium is the best way to get the required amount. Individuals who eat a balanced diet do not need potassium supplements. Foods, which are rich sources of potassium include turnips, whole grains, molasses, fish, citrus fruit, apple cider vinegar, bananas, avocados, yoghurt, tomatoes, poultry, oranges, apricots, potatoes (especially their skins), leafy green vegetables such as spinach, lettuce; and meat. One large orange will supply one with 250 mg of potassium, one-eighth of a person?s daily need. Dried apricots contain more potassium than fresh apricots.

Steaming of foods helps to retain nutrients that are lost through other cooking techniques such as boiling (loss of about 50% of potassium content). Steaming results in only a 6% loss of potassium.

Recommended Daily Allowance of potassium:

There is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) for potassium, but it is advised to get between 2,000-3,000 mg per day. The range of intake for children is 780 to 1,600 mg per day.

This is not difficult, and most people meet this requirement on their own through a normal diet. In general, nutritionists recommend reducing salt intake and ensuring adequate supply by increasing the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in the diet.

If one is into bodybuilding, he must increase the potassium intake, since potassium is needed to maintain muscles in good form, and also because potassium is lost from excessive sweating and urine.

Symptoms of high intake of potassium:

Excessive potassium can be toxic and will affect the heart. This is a problem especially when one is suffering from some problem such as kidney failure. Irregular heart beat and muscle fatigue is sign of toxic potassium levels. In healthy people, the kidneys in the urine excrete excess potassium.

Who requires extra potassium?

People who require potassium supplements include:

- women on oral contraceptives,

- chronic alcoholics or drug abusers,

- smokers

- people undergoing stress

- athletes

- people doing strenuous exertion,

- anyone suffering from any degree of mal-absorption syndrome

- people with eating disorders, especially bulimia and anorexia..

Read more on deficiency, high potassium rich foods and potassium deficiency in humans. Also Visit http://www.healthvitaminsguide.com for Information on Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids.

By: Candy Williams