Monday, December 12, 2011

The Importance of Potassium for Good Health

Potassium is an electrolyte that is found in the intracellular fluid of our body. This electrolyte is essential for proper cellular functioning of the human body. Potassium deficiency results in several imbalances within the body that, in turn, affect the overall health significantly. In addition, some specific symptoms may also be seen when the potassium intake of your body is inadequate.

How does potassium help?

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Potassium regulates acid base levels and keeps blood pressure balanced. Metabolic functions also depend on potassium especially when carbohydrates or proteins are being broken down inside the body. The nervous system functions in a healthy manner and nerve impulses are transmitted properly when adequate potassium levels are maintained in the body. This electrolyte is also essential for the proper functioning of the human brain.

Muscle building is also dependent on potassium - so only when adequate amounts of this electrolyte are in the body does proper muscle growth take place. Body builders who need to grow and maintain muscles will do well to include potassium supplements as part of their diet.

For those who are trying to lose weight, a low potassium diet may be obstructing any progress they make through exercising. By bringing up potassium levels you improve body metabolism and aid muscle building. Improved metabolism helps the body burn more calories into energy. Enhanced muscle building draws on this energy to improve overall strength and burns more fat, thus resulting in weight loss.

Why do we become potassium deficient?

The potassium stored in our body is lost in many ways including perspiration. Excessive urination or vomiting also depletes potassium levels. Strenuous exercise without proper replenishment of fluids or proper intake of balanced nutrition can lead to potassium deficiency. Other than this, any excessive fluid discharge such as diarrhea, dehydration or sweating can also cause a drop in the level of this electrolyte. People suffering from conditions like Hyperthyroidism may also have low potassium levels.

Some common symptoms such as dry skin, muscular weakness, fatigue and apathy may be indications that your body is potassium deficient or hypokalemic. Severe deficiency may lead to heart problems or hypokalemic paralysis so paying immediate attention to any such signs is critical. It is important to understand that sodium intake may also be required in conjunction with potassium replenishment because the electrolyte functions with sodium to regulate several bodily functions.

Natural sources of potassium

There are many natural sources that are a rich source of potassium. A proper diet with the right kinds of fruits and vegetables often helps combat signs of potassium deficiency if the problem is detected early on. Chard, spinach and crimini mushrooms are considered to be the best natural sources of this essential electrolyte. Other than these, you can also find reasonably high potassium content in fennel, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, winter squash, tomatoes, cantaloupe and eggplants. Fruits like avocado, strawberries, bananas and apricots are also good sources. Non vegetarians can get their potassium intake from tuna, salmon, cod, flounder and halibut. Even dairy products are also good sources of potassium.

The Importance of Potassium for Good Health

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