Potassium

Potassium and blood pressure

Potassium is a mineral that helps the kidneys function normally. It also plays a key role in cardiac, digestive, and muscular function.

Several studies have linked low dietary intake with high blood pressure. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet emphasizes eating foods rich in fruits, vegetables, and low- or non-fat dairy products to provide high intake, as well as magnesium and calcium. Taking this mineral as a supplement is not recommended, without close supervision by a medical professional because of its interaction with other minerals and prescription drugs.

The best dietary sources of this mineral are fresh unprocessed foods, including meats, fish, vegetables (especially potatoes), fruits (especially avocados, dried apricots, and bananas), citrus juices (such as orange juice), dairy products, and whole grains. Useful components of a diet rich in this mineral also include cantaloupes, figs, raisins, kidney beans, and milk.

Amount found in Various Foodstuffs

 

Foods High in Potassium

Serving SizePotassium (mg)
Apricots, dried 10 halves 407
Avocados, raw1 ounce 180
Bananas, raw 1 cup 594
Beets, cooked 1 cup 519
Brussel sprouts, cooked 1 cup504
Cantaloupe 1 cup 494
Dates, dry5 dates 271
Figs, dry 2 figs 271
Kiwi fruit, raw 1 medium 252
Lima beans 1 cup955
Melons, honeydew 1 cup 461
Milk, fat free or skim1 cup 407
Nectarines 1 nectarine 288
Orange juice 1 cup 496
Oranges 1 orange237
Pears (fresh) 1 pear 208
Peanuts dry roasted,
  without salt
1 ounce 187
Potatoes, baked,
  flesh and skin
1 potato 1081
Prune juice 1 cup 707
Prunes, dried 1 cup828
Raisins 1 cup 1089
Spinach, cooked1 cup 839
Tomato products,
  canned, sauce
1 cup 909
Winter squash 1 cup 896
Yogurt plain, skim milk 8 ounces579

Values were obtained from the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard References, Release 15 for Potassium, K (mg) content of selected foods per common measure.

See:- http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/SR15/wtrank/wt_rank.html

Hypokalemia

Potassium deficiency is called hypokalemia. Proper balance of this mineral in the body depends on sodium and excessive use of salt in the diet can deplete sodium in the body. Diarrhoea, vomiting, sweating and the use of diuretics can also provoke hypokalemia. People with eating problems or malnutrition are at particular risk, and the abuse of laxatives and alcohol can also provoke this condition, which is very serious and should be treated as such. In addition, coffee and alcohol can increase the amount of this mineral excreted in the urine. Adequate amounts of magnesium are also needed to maintain normal levels.

Mild hypokalemia usually results in no symptoms, while moderate hypokalemia results in confusion, disorientation, muscle weakness, and discomfort or occasionally cramps, especially when exercising. Another symptom of moderate hypokalemia is a discomfort that can be relieved by shifting the positions of the legs. Severe hypokalemia is an extremely serious and can result in extreme weakness of the body and, on occasion, in paralysis or death.

Hyperkalamia

Having too much of this mineral in the blood is called hyperkalemia. The elderly are at high risk for developing hyperkalemia due to decreased kidney function that often occurs as one ages.

Older people should be careful when taking medication that may further affect levels of this mineral in the body, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and ACE inhibitors.

Hyperkalemia can be asymptomatic, meaning that it causes no symptoms. Sometimes, patients with hyperkalemia report vague symptoms including nausea, fatigue, and muscle weakness or tingling sensations. More serious symptoms include slow heartbeat and weak pulse. Severe hyperkalemia can result in fatal cardiac arrest.

Supplements

The name "potassium" comes from the word "potash", as the substance was first isolated from potash. It is a soft silvery-white metallic alkali metal that occurs naturally bound to other elements in seawater and many minerals.

Supplements of this mineral can help treat or prevent many diseases such as Hypertension, Stroke, Osteoporosis, Asthma and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Ulcerative Colitis and Crone’s Disease.


A Word of Caution
This mineral interacts with certain prescription drugs and supplements should only be used in consultation with your medical advisor or family doctor. Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, dietary supplements should be taken only under the supervision of a knowledgeable healthcare provider. In this casel, it is particularly important in the elderly. However, taking supplements of this mineral at any age, should only be done under the guidance of a healthcare provider.


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