A banana a day keeps the heart attacks away. Really? Well, not exactly. Bananas are a great source of potassium and potassium is important for a regular heart rhythm. Potassium’s also important for proper muscle contraction. Beginning to see the connection here? Your muscles contract (and your heart is, after all, just a big muscle) all thanks to nerve impulses. Potassium also works hand in hand with sodium in regulating fluid in the body. Because potassium helps build muscle, it may even help you with your new year’s resolution to lose weight. So how does that work? Well, healthy muscles burn calories and help us convert the food we eat into energy. And this energy helps us exercise to build even stronger muscles. In order to keep this great partnership going, we need to replenish our body’s supply of potassium after exercising, as we lose potassium in sweat. Try consuming foods that are high in potassium after your workout like apricots, bananas, dates, oranges, pomegranates or watermelon. If you like, any of these foods can be combined with yogurt or greens for a super smoothie treat after your workout. To read the full article on potassium, go to www.nutters.com. And to make 2011 your healthiest year ever, join Nutter’s on Facebook/nuttersnatural for your daily health tip.
RECOMMENDED DAILY ALLOWANCE:
What Does That Look Like?
(1,000mg = 1 gram)
|1 med. baked sweet potato|
½ cup cooked beet greens
1 med. baked potato
1 cup non-fat plain yogurt
Halibut, 3 oz., cooked
1 med. banana
Rainbow trout, 3 oz., cooked
For a detailed list of foods containing potassium, CLICK HERE .
THE FUNCTIONS OF POTASSIUM IN THE BODY
Without getting too deep into a physiology lesson, potassium is a major regulator in the body, right from your cells to your nerve impulses to the rhythm of your heart and is essential for the growth of the human body.
Potassium plays an important role in a few different systems in your body, including the nervous system, circulatory system and muscular system. It helps keep your heart rhythm regular, aids in transmitting electrochemical impulses, preventing strokes and keeping your blood pressure stable.
Potassium helps ensure your muscles contract properly. Found mostly in the intracellular spaces in the body (areas inside the cells), the movement of intracellular potassium from the muscle cells into the extracellular fluids (fluids outside the cells) is important for the contraction and relaxation mechanism of the muscle tissues. So, it follows that a potassium deficiency can lead to muscle weakness.
Potassium works alongside sodium in maintaining the body’s balance of water. A proper potassium-to-sodium ratio regulates heartbeat and helps reverse the adverse effects sodium can have on blood pressure. This potassium-sodium balance is also essential for the proper excretion of toxic wastes by the kidneys.
In your cells, potassium is important for chemical reactions and regulating the transfer of nutrients through cell membranes. For example, the conversion of amino acids to proteins, and glucose to glycogen (both energy sources for the body), requires the contribution potassium makes. Potassium is also part of many metabolic processes in that it helps the body make proper use of the energy being released during a metabolic process.
Potassium helps maintain the body’s delicate pH balance. Known as an alkalizer, potassium constitutes 5% of the total mineral content of the body.
Potassium maintains the electrical conductivity of the brain and is involved in learning and memory.
The human body is unable to store potassium and requires a constant supply either through diet or supplementation.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF A POTASSIUM DEFICIENCY?
Poor dietary choices can be the main cause of potassium deficiency in the body. People who have hypoglycemia often suffer from headaches, weakness and other conditions directly attributed to potassium deficiency.
A potassium deficiency can also be brought on by excess sweating, extended bouts of vomiting and/or diarrhea, excessive consumption of tea/coffee/caffeinated drinks, the use of diuretics and of some antibiotics.
The first signs of potassium deficiency are usually fatigue and muscle weakness. Further signs of potassium deficiency include abnormally dry skin, acne, chills, cramps, headaches, earaches, cognitive impairment, constipation, depression, diarrhea, diminished reflex function, edema (swelling) or water retention, nervousness, insatiable thirst, fluctuations in heartbeat, glucose intolerance, growth impairment, high cholesterol levels, insomnia, low blood pressure, muscular fatigue and weakness, nausea, vomiting, periodic headaches, poor kidney function, respiratory distress and salt retention. 1
Hyperkalemia means “an abnormally elevated level of potassium in the blood”. It would follow then that hypokalemia is “an abnormally low level of potassium in the blood”.
Hyperkalemia is common; it is diagnosed in up to 8% of hospitalized patients in the U.S. Fortunately, most patients have mild hyperkalemia (which is usually well tolerated). However, any condition causing even mild hyperkalemia should be treated to prevent progression into more severe hyperkalemia. Extremely high levels of potassium in the blood (severe hyperkalemia) can lead to cardiac arrest. 2
MORE SPECIFIC SOURCES OF POTASSIUM
Food sources of potassium include dairy foods, fish, fruit, legumes, meat, poultry, vegetables and whole grains. More specifically, high nutritional values of potassium can be found in:
- Sweet potatoes
- Beet greens
- White beans
- Prune juice
- Blackstrap molases
- Lima beans
- Winter squash
- Pork loin center rib roasts
- Kidney beans
- Orange juice
NUTTERS CAN SUGGEST…
Potassium citrate tablets contain 99 mg of potassium. Potassium maintains healthy nerves and muscles in conjunction with calcium. It is an important electrolyte, supporting normal heart function and the fluid balance in the body. Citrates are extremely well-tolerated and well-absorbed making potassium citrate tablets an excellent way to get this important mineral.
1. Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fourth Edition, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
Carol Roy is a Natural Health Practitioner who received her diploma from the Alternative Medicine College of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. With 12 years experience in her area of expertise, natural health and wellness, Carol has also trained to become a fully qualified Reiki Master, Quantum Touch Practitioner, and Reflexologist.
The suggestions by Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods and the contents of this article
are recommendations only and not a substitute for any medical advice or a
replacement for any prescriptions. Seek medical advice for any health concerns.
Consult your health care provider before using any recommendations herein.