Potassium just like any other mineral has immense health benefits to our bodies. Just like its counterparts iron, which is needed for efficient transportation of oxygen in the body, potassium is also crucial for proper functioning of major body organs all aimed at helping you achieve your life expectancy. According to research conducted by health experts, every living, breathing adult needs at least 4.7 grams of potassium per day in order to properly function.
Presence of high amounts of potassium have been proven to be healthy in that its high intake will result in lower risks of dying from stroke, high blood pressure, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density as well as reduced cases in the formation of kidney stones. Of great emphasis is that potassium is responsible for regulating fluid balance and controlling the electrical activity of the heart and other muscles as its primary function. This is because potassium is an electrolyte and will therefore help in counteracting the effects of excessive consumption of sodium therefore helping maintain a healthy blood pressure as well as proper hydration. This property is also important in that it helps maintain acid-base balance. Potassium is also essential for breaking down carbohydrates and proteins to release energy to help you accomplish your daily tasks.
Electrolytes are very important to our bodies in that they are minerals that help maintain our bodies’ ionic balance. This balance is necessary for normal nerve, brain and muscle function. Common electrolytes in addition to potassium and are necessary for the above mentioned functions include magnesium, calcium, phosphate, chloride as well as sodium though in a small quantity.
Blood pressure and cardiovascular health
As stated before, potassium is important for maintaining a healthy blood pressure as well enhancing cardiovascular health. This is attributed by the fact the presence of low potassium in our body system is associated with cases of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Presence of excess sodium which essentially results from excessive consumption of table salt results in a disease known as edema. As a result your body cells will retain excess fluids therefore resulting in the swelling of limbs. Excess sodium will also make your heart muscles to overwork which might result in cardiovascular diseases such as stroke due to the weakening of the heart muscles. The presence of a healthy presence of potassium will therefore neutralize the sodium and tone down its effects. Despite an increase in the intake of potassium any health expert will encourage you to minimize salt intake in your dietary practices in order to lower cases of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
Bone and muscle maintenance
The intake of foods rich in potassium is also crucial for a healthy maintenance of the bones and the muscles. This is because food rich in potassium are great in promoting an alkaline environment responsible for neutralizing acidity in the body unlike their counterparts intended to enhance to an acid-base balance in the body.
Acidity in the body is usually caused by such foods as meat, dairy and processed cereal grains triggering metabolic acidosis. As a result, nitrogen excretion will be experienced leading to loss of essential bone minerals and muscle wasting. A healthy intake of potassium will therefore help one maintain a healthy pack of lean muscles accompanied by an increase in bone density.
Click Next To Continue:
Foods rich in potassium
You are probably wondering how you can avert the disaster that comes with low intake/presence of potassium in the body. There is no need for you to panic because we have all the answers for you. This is because most foods whether whole or processed are rich in this much needed mineral. Such foods include most leafy vegetables, avocadoes (they are very high in potassium) tomatoes, potatoes, beans as well as bananas. Processed food may also be rich in potassium but we won’t encourage you to go for them. This is because processing greatly reduces the nutrients meaning that if you are fond of going for processed food, chances are you will soon suffer from diseases associated with low potassium intake because processed diets have them in minimum amounts. Another disadvantage with processed food is that they contain high levels of sodium which is unhealthy considering the dangers of high sodium intake as stated earlier. To help you counter this, just ensure that you readily have a potassium rich fruit or vegetable salad when consuming a processed meal to help counter the sodium or else risk your chances of suffering from high blood pressure and other associated diseases.
Causes of low potassium
Low potassium in our systems can be attributed to a number of reasons. People suffering from vomiting and diarrhea are likely to suffer from potassium deficiency. Vomiting can be as a result of anorexia, bulimia, a chronic eating disorder where the victim is forced to vomit all the food immediately after taking them. Other causes include alcoholism, excessive sweating, folic acid deficiency, use of some antibiotics, excessive use of laxatives and people suffering from kidney diseases as well as those under diuretics for medical purposes. People with potassium deficiency in this case are therefore encouraged to consult their doctor for further directions. Because of this, most drinking water companies are required to ensure that their water is potassium rich to ensure that people suffering from vomiting and diarrhea get adequate supply of this mineral.
It is however important that you take moderate potions of potassium because there are some potential health risks of consuming too much of it. It is safely okay for you to consume them in large quantities if you have very active and healthy kidneys because the excess will just be passed through urine. For those not so lucky, the risk involved is that you may suffer from cardiac arrest because potassium is essentially linked with the maintenance of the heart muscles.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure is obviously the first sign that will tell you that you need a potassium supplement. This alone is testimony that your heart muscles are overworking as without it the vessels will be constricted which is very dangerous. With a healthy dose of potassium, your blood vessels will be relaxed as it will be able to perform smoothly.
Research has it that 50% of the people with low level of Potassium experience blood pressure problems. An orange after a meal is all you need to be assured of the right amounts of Potassium in your body. Many people will literally laugh at this, but untill you are diagnised of high blood pressure, just take an fruit.
Have you ever fainted while you working on something? Yes, I know you might have. Many people experience this more often and immediately they are up, they continue with their normal lives, not caring what really caused the fainting. This can be a serious issue if neglected by an individual.
Get your blood tested quickly and high chance are that, you are experiencing potassium deficiency. This is directly linked to high blood pressure as a drop in the intake of potassium can greatly slow down your heartbeat. As a result, you will suddenly feel dizzy which is uncommon especially if you have been leading a healthy active life all through.
Constipation also goes hand in hand with hypokalemia. This can be attributed to the fact that most of your bodily functions depend on potassium not forgetting your digestive system as potassium is necessary for proper breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins. As a result, you may experience sudden bloating and abdominal cramping which can be very uncomfortable and painful. To be on the safe side, please consult your medical doctor because we don’t guarantee that the bloating and abdominal cramping is 100% attributed to potassium deficiency but may be as a result of something else.
Tingling and numbness
Are there moments that you feel your hands and legs are quite numb? Rather, do you feel that tingling sensation more often? This can be due to low amounts of Potassium in your blood stream. Low amounts of potassium can leave you feeling numb and your limbs having a tingling sensation. This is because its other function is to ensure that you have healthy nerves because without it, you will experience an uncomfortable pins and needles sensation. This is your cue to therefore increase your potassium intake to help you get rid of those annoying sensations. If you have these feelings and have not been having foods high in potassium, please start having some. Believe me, this feeling will grow even worse if you don’t having foods rich in potassium and can even lead to much more undesirable effects
Your heart skips a beat (palpitation)
Some people relate that moment when your heart skips a beat with love. No, that is usually a saying, in reality even when you find the person you really love, the heart never skips a beat, instead, it beats even faster. You should know that there is nothing to smile about if you feel your heart skip a beat because it is a sign that you are unwell.Yes, it might be more serious than you think.
When your heart rate suddenly speeds up or skips a beat more often, visit a doctor. This is a direct sign that you have some deficiency of potassium. This is a clear indication that your potassium has significantly gone down translating to improper functioning of your heart’s muscles as well as your blood vessels. Heart muscles depend a lot on pottasium ions for their functions; contraction and relaxation.
Weak and crumpy muscles
Is there a moment when you try carrying that light object that you carry every day but now you feel like you trying to carry half of Mount Everest on your shoulders? As stated earlier, potassium is necessary for lean and proper functioning of muscles. This is because for proper contraction of muscles, a healthy quantity of this mineral is highly recommended for smooth muscle functioning. Low amounts will therefore lead to those painful aches and spasms in your muscles making movement impossible. You may also experience absent or depressed deep tendon reflexes. Slight pain during exercise is also felt. If you experience this feeling, try a diet of foods high in potassium. This might help a lot.
Eating processed food
Are you the kind of person who only feels good when taking ready and processed foods? If you are fond of taking processed food then you are in danger of potassium deficiency. This is because processed foods unlike whole meals have lower percentages of potassium as well as other nutrients. This can also be attributed to the fact that such foods such as chips, crackers as well as frozen foods contain high amounts of sodium pausing the risk of getting high blood pressure. You should therefore reduce the amount of salty food in order to enable your body absorb, retain and utilize the much needed potassium.
Do you have the feeling of tiredness and fatigue even before the day kicks off? Yes, that feeling that makes you think that you are sick, yet you are not. Research has proven that someone having the feeling of fatigue regularly is mostly due to lack of potassium ions in the body.
Feeling tired all the time can be associated to hard physical work but feeling suddenly wiped out even without exerting yourself in a heavy task is an indication that you are possibly suffering from hypokalemia. This is because every cell in your body is in need of the right amounts potassium for proper functioning. If you are getting proper amounts of rest but the simplest of tasks leave you exhausted, then you should know that you are possibly suffering from potassium deficiency.
Are you the kind of person who avoids certain food types just to keep your weight/shape in check. Then you are at a higher risk of suffering from potassium deficiency. This may occur to people with severe cases of anorexia and bulimia. This is because such people are obsessed with their body image and will try as much as possible to stay away from healthy food just to maintain their desired body size/weight. Such people may include wrestlers, cheerleaders and most models.
Keeping your body size and shape can as well be done as long as you eat the right amounts of needed nutrients. Don’t be much into getting a perfect body that you even forget the health repercussions that come with it. I don’t think anyone will want to have that Mr/Mrs “Perfect body but with awful teeth due to poor hygiene.
Abnormal psychological behavior
On the extreme end, you may experience abnormal psychological behaviors. With low potassium you may exhibit such behaviors which may include depression, mood swings, psychosis, mental lethargy, confusion and bouts of hallucination. In addition, you may experience difficulty focusing or retaining important information therefore leaving you frustrated especially with your job.
In conclusion, potassium is not hard to acquire and consume. This is because it can be found in most foods and therefore there is no excuse for you to suffer from potassium deficiency. With all the right food in mind, living a healthy active life is guaranteed as long as you keep processed food to the minimum.