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Potassium: Why It's Essential for Your Body

Potassium is a mineral necessary for the proper function of many of your body systems; it’s also often referred to as one of the key electrolytes in your body. Potassium, along with sodium, the other electrolyte, plays a vital role in regulating the fluid levels in your body. Potassium has many roles and responsibilities within your body, these responsibilities include:

  • Maintains the electrolyte balance in your body's cells
  • Manages your blood pressure and keeps your heart functioning properly
  • Assists nervous system by aiding in the correct function of tissues needed for sending nerve impulses
  • Helps the muscles contract
  • Releases energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates during the metabolic process
  • Aids in the waste removal process
  • Enhances muscle control, the growth and health of your cells
  • Promotes efficient cognitive functioning by helping to deliver oxygen to the brain

Effects of Deficiency of Potassium

Dietary deficiency of potassium can lead to variety of mental and physical problems for you. Mental symptoms can include insomnia, anorexia, depression and some nervous disorders. Physical symptoms include muscular cramps and twitching, fatigue, muscular weakness, poor reflexes, irregular heartbeat and other cardiovascular problems, fragile bones, lung and kidney failure and heart attack. If you experience any combination of these symptoms, you should speak with your doctor immediately. A simple blood test can determine if your potassium levels are too low or your sodium levels are too high.

Reasons for Deficiency of Potassium

There are several reasons for potential potassium deficiency. Among them include: excessive alcohol consumptions, high stress, poor overall health, diarrhea and vomiting for prolong periods. During periods of diarrhea or vomiting or excessive sweating, potassium levels can fall more quickly and, therefore, need to be replenished as quickly as possible. This is very common in children, infants and the elderly. 

The many preventable reasons for deficiency can include excessive caffeine consumption, imbalanced diet of excessive consumption of processed foods and excessive consumption of sodium. A balance has to be maintained between sodium and potassium, since consuming excess amounts of sodium can lead to an increase in your blood pressure.

Need to Maintain a Balance

The human body is an intricate system with sensitive chemical balances. For your body to be healthy, it’s important that this delicate balance be maintained. Any disruption in the balance can have a cascading effect, with some more severe than others. To prevent any disruption or disturbance, it is vital to maintain a healthy diet. When you make sure to get the daily recommended total for potassium and stay below the daily recommend amount of sodium, you will be able to better maintain the balance your body needs to operate at optimal health.

The best way to maintain a healthy body is to have a nutrient-rich, well-balanced diet, while avoiding added sugars, junk foods, fats, and excessive carbohydrates.

Sources of Potassium

  • Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Cooked spinach
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Oranges
  • Apricots
  • Prunes

Indulge in the foods above, and give your body the potassium it needs and deserves!

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