Potassium

Where is potassium found?

Potassium is a mineral that is found in potatoes, swiss chard, mushrooms, spinach, yams and sweet potatoes, fish, soybeans, legumes, milk, nuts, broccoli, peas, tomatoes, winter squash, cantaloupe, citrus, bananas, kiwi, prunes, and dried apricots.

Healthy Benefits

Potassium’s main function is to regulate the fluids in our bodies. It makes it possible for us to stay hydrated.

By regulating the fluids in our bodies, potassium also helps keep our bones healthy. There has to be a balance of alkaline and acidic compounds in our bodies, and when we are not properly hydrated, the pH levels in our blood can become too acidic. Since potassium helps our bodies to keep a healthy balance, having healthy levels of potassium ensures that acid cannot eat away at the calcium in our bones and lead to osteoporosis.

Nerve cells also need potassium in order to work properly and normal levels are absolutely essential for a healthy nervous system. Nerve cells work by using electrical impulses through the neurons in order to communicate with other cells in our bodies. Potassium, because it is a metal, is one of the components used by nerve cells to create these impulses. A person whose potassium is too low can actually develop nerve problems because of this. Proper potassium intake can also help with the condition and lessen the discomfort of certain neurological disorders (such as carpal tunnel syndrome).

If you’ve got low potassium, you will be prone to having more muscle cramps. You may also experience weakness in your muscles and fatigue (it’s a given that if your muscles tire out quickly, you will too!). Ensuring proper potassium intake can not only keep painful cramps at bay, it will help your muscles to be stronger which will prevent you from feeling run down and tired.

Potassium helps to regulate the amount of sodium in our bodies. The more sodium that is in our cells, the more water we will need in the cells to maintain the balance. All of this extra material within the cellular wall builds pressure which leads to high blood pressure.

Signs of Deficiency

  • Potassium deficiency, also known as hypokalemia, may be identified by some of the following symptoms:
  • Muscle weakness or spasms
  • Paralysis
  • Muscle stiffness, aches, tenderness
  • Abdominal bloating, pain, cramping
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Frequent urination and extreme thirst
  • Numbness and tingling

Resources

“Health Benefits of Potassium.” Potassiumcom. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Sept. 2013. <http://www.potassium.com/health-benefits-of-potassium.htm>.

St. John, Tina M., MD. “What Are the Symptoms of Potassium Deficiency?” LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., 28 May 2011. Web. 04 Sept. 2013. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/92806-symptoms-potassium-deficiency/>.

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