Eating potassium rich foods help in the proper functioning of the body and keeping you healthy
Potassium is a mineral that is crucial to human survival. It is important for the kidneys, heart as well as for the other organs to function normally. A good thing is that our daily diet already contains potassium rich foods. As it carries an electric charge into our body, potassium has been classed as an electrolyte. Our body needs a balanced amount of electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, magnesium and others that help in the healthy functioning of the body.
Functions of Potassium
Potassium is a vital mineral that is essential for the functioning of the human body. It is needed by the body for
- Building proteins to build muscles
- Breaking down and using carbohydrates
- Maintaining normal body growth
- Controlling the acid base balance
- Controlling the electrical activity of the heart
People who eat a healthy diet get their recommended dietary intake of potassium. However, the eating habits of many people are starkly unhealthy and they might suffer from potassium deficiency. The risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cancer, digestive disorders and infertility, have been associated with potassium deficiency.
Potassium deficiency is also common in people who
- Use certain medicines, such as diuretics and certain birth control pills
- Have physically demanding jobs
- Have health conditions that affect their digestive absorption, such as Crohn’s disease
- Have an eating disorder
- Are athletes
- Abuse alcohol or drugs
Potassium rich foods
Most of the foods that are a part of our daily diet are potassium rich foods. Potassium is found abundantly in naturally occurring food sources like bananas, avocados, nuts, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, milk and potatoes. Other than this, tomato sauces, yogurt, seafood like clams, prunes, carrot juice, molasses, freshwater fish, soybeans, winter squash can also be had as potassium rich foods. A diet containing potassium rich foods should be regulated in case of patients with kidney disease. These patients have too much potassium in their blood, as their kidneys do not get rid of the excess potassium. Irregular heartbeats are an added complication of a diet including potassium rich foods for kidney disease patients.
Side effects of potassium
An intake of too much or too little of potassium can cause serious health problems. Low levels of potassium in blood, is known as hypokalemia and it is characterized by weak muscles, abnormal heart rhythms and a slight rise in blood pressure.
Causes of hypokalemia
- Taking diuretics (water pills) to treat high blood pressure or heart failure
- Taking too many laxatives
- Having severe or prolonged vomiting and diarrhea
- Having certain kidney or adrenal gland disorders
Too much of potassium in blood is known as hyperkalemia and is characterized by abnormal and dangerous heart rhythms.
Causes of hyperkalemia
- Poor kidney function
- Heart medicines
- Potassium-sparing diuretics
- Severe infection
Here are few articles on Potassium from where you can learn more.