Food Facts: Potassium

When you think of potassium, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably a banana! However, few people understand the importance of potassium. Now is the best time to learn, as it could save your life from the “silent killer”, high blood pressure.

Potassium is a mineral that is absolutely essential for the functioning of the body. It is most commonly known as an electrolyte, which is why you may find it in trace amounts in sports drinks. Because of this role, it is required to maintain the water balance in the body, which is needed for survival. Potassium works along with sodium to try to keep your body and cells water balanced. It is also needed to assist with the break down of carbohydrates and in the proper functioning of enzymes. An abundance of research studies have shown that potassium can also help to decrease high blood pressure and can help to keep normal blood pressure within the healthy ranges. So, just like all vitamins and minerals, potassium is necessary to keep your body functioning in top condition! The importance of this mineral should not be underestimated, as it has very powerful roles!

Bananas are typically known as a great source for bananas, but other sources may surprise you! Sweet potatoes (and baked potatoes), citrus fruits, beans, prune juice, clams, fish like cod, yogurt, and many other fruits/vegetables are filled with potassium. So, bananas are not the only good source!

A deficiency of potassium, called hypokalemia, is not typically seen. Hypokalemia is primarily seen when individuals have illnesses or medical conditions where there is excessive vomiting; but, hypokalemia can exist because of other conditions too. It is essential to get enough potassium in your diet because the consequences of a deficiency can be life-threatening. Some symptoms of a deficiency include irregular heart rhythm, fatigue, or muscle spasms. A potassium deficiency should be treated quickly and effectively in order to avoid further damage to your body. Today is the day to make sure your diet is providing you with sufficient potassium!

References:

Colorado State University Extension

Lifeclinic Personal Health Management

National Institutes of Health, Medline Plus

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