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Potassium Information, Benefits, Deficiency, Food Sources

Potassium also functions in the conduction of nerve impulses and enables the body to convert glucose into energy, which is then stored in reserve by the muscles and liver.

It is to be noted that when whole blood is stored at 2-4 0C, as for the purpose of blood transfusion, potassium from corpuscles migrate into plasma in which the potassium concentration rises. Such a sample of blood, if administered, may produce serious effects.

Metabolism of potassium is controlled probably by adrenal cortex, either directly or indirectly by regulating sodium metabolism. 2-3 gm is excreted through the urine per day, which varies with the amount of intake. In potassium deficiency kidneys reabsorb more. With high meat diet and in the later stages of fasting, when tissues are breaking down, potassium excretion rises.

Taking everything together serum potassium rises, due to less excretion by the kidneys and more leakage from the tissue cells. In intestinal obstruction serum potassium rises as a terminal event. In shock the same picture is seen.

If a person suffers from kidney stones, he might benefit from increasing high potassium containing foods in his diet to supply more potassium to body, as higher potassium levels have proved helpful in preventing kidney stones.

Sources of potassium

Some important sources of potassium are Potato, winter squash, tomato, celery, carrots, broccoli, watercress, avocado, banana, oranges, orange juice, raisins, watermelon, cantaloupe, prunes, fish, hamburger, lamb, pork, chicken, bran cereal, wheat flakes cereal, yogurt, milk, salt substitutes, and sunflower seeds.

Benefits of potassium
  • It is needed for growth, building muscles, transmission of nerve impulses, heart activity etc.
  • It sends oxygen to the brain to facilitate mental clarity.
  • It also helps to lower blood pressure.
  • It also decreases risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
  • It also helps to dispose of body wastes.
  • Aids in allergy treatment.
  • Reduces pain of arthritis.
  • Conducts nerve impulses and initiates muscle contractions.
  • Regulates heartbeat. Potassium ions inhibit cardiac contraction and prolong relaxation.
  • It is intimately concerned with the development of potential difference with the help of which an impulse is conducted through the nerve.
Deficiency symptoms of potassium

A deficiency in potassium is not common, but symptoms of a deficiency may include weakness, irregular heartbeat, and failure to replace low levels of potassium could lead to heart failure.

Most cases of deficiency can be related to use of some diuretics, or prolonged bouts of vomiting or diarrhea.

There is scarring of heart muscle, hypertrophy of kidneys, paralysis of muscle and retarded bone growth. Bones become fragile excessively. Both sexes may be sterile.

Symptom of high intake

Toxicity is rare but people who have kidney disease or who have high blood pressure should consult with their doctor before taking.

Symptoms of too much potassium might include, nausea, muscle fatigue, or irregular heartbeat.

When more is needed

Potassium is easily lost in the urine, and if a large amount of salt is ingested, it may be wise to take a potassium supplement. If a person suffers from vomiting, diarrhea or extreme sweating he may require more potassium or if diet includes mostly processed foods, large amounts of caffeine, alcohol, or if one take diuretic pills or laxatives.

If a person suffers from diabetes, or suffer from kidney problems he should not take a potassium supplement without the consent of medical physician.

Daily requirement

The RDA for potassium is 3500 mg, and recommended dosages range from 1875-5625 mg per day.