Potassium is one of the electrolytes essential to the smooth running of the human body; in fact just about all bodily functions depend on it to some extent.
It is also one of the most abundant minerals in the body, constituting 70% of the positive ions inside cells; the rest are a mixture of sodium, magnesium, calcium, arginine, and others.
Symptoms of potassium deficiency
Some of the symptoms of potassium to be noted are: tiredness, high and low blood pressure, acne, dry eyes, irritability, irregular or rapid heartbeat, muscle weakness, depression, confusion, anxiety, insomnia, frail skeletal structure, bone and joint pain, decreased reflexes, constipation, high cholesterol, and water retention.
Respiratory problems, excessive thirst, evidence of protein in urine, less than adequate growth, infertility and headaches are other symptoms of potassium deficiency.
• Potassium is necessary for normal cell respiration; a deficiency can cause decreased levels of oxygen, which will reduce the efficiency of cell function.
• Potassium is thought to be therapeutically useful in many ways, including assisting in the treatment of alleviating allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome, and preventing high blood pressure. People suffering from any of the above should consider increasing their intake of potassium after talking to a professional.
• A deficiency of potassium in the blood is referred to as hypokalemia and manifests itself in many ways. Among the most serious are arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease , stroke, cancer, and even infertility, as potassium constitutes a vital element of seminal fluid.
• Potassium deficiency will increase acid levels in the body, lowering the natural pH, which will have far reaching effects. Lack of potassium can also aggravate problems caused by lack of protein.
• Potassium is essential to the efficient processing of foods in the body; without it they cannot be broken down into the proper compounds. This can lead to rheumatism, and is one reason why adequate potassium prevents rheumatism.
Who needs potassium supplements?
Those who may need to take potassium supplements include women who take oral contraceptives, abusers of alcohol or drugs, smokers, athletes, workers whose job involves physical exertion, patients who have had their gastrointestinal tract surgically removed, anyone suffering from any degree of malabsorption syndrome, and vegetarians.
People who have eating disorders, especially bulimia and anorexia, are particularly at risk from damage due to low potassium levels.
Also, individuals who have been ill, anyone who has undergone surgery and those who are taking cortisone or digitalis preparations, and those suffering from high levels of stress will probably also have low potassium levels.
How Much Potassium Do We Generally Need?
For daily intake, men and women need at least 4.7 grams of potassium, or 2,000-4,000 mg. Women around the ages of 31 and 50 in America and the United Kingdom, consume less than 50 percent of the daily amount of potassium needed to maintain optimal health.
Men in America consume only slightly higher levels of potassium.
Most American diets contain 1,500-5,000 mg of potassium daily. This is quite far under the recommended daily intake.
In general, nutritionists recommend reducing salt intake and ensuring adequate supply by increasing the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in the diet.
High Potassium Foods
Here is a brief list of some foods high in potassium so that you can hopefully avoid a potassium deficiency:
- orange juice, bananas, boiled chard, mushrooms, raw, fennel (bulb), romaine lettuce, raw celery, boiled mustard greens, raw cauliflower, raw broccoli, all varieties of summer and winter squash, ripe tomatoes, cooked turnip greens, raw carrots, boiled collard greens, raw cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, boiled beets, papaya, snap and string green beans, yam, fresh kale, and Brussels sprouts.
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