Are You Getting Enough Potassium?
Potassium is an important mineral whose importance is often overlooked. However, it plays a huge role in optimal functioning of the heart, metabolism, muscles and the nervous system. Potassium also plays a role in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in body cells. Getting too little potassium is rare when one consumes a balanced diet, but certain medications and conditions can prohibit potassium absorption. Too little potassium can cause salt sensitivity and high blood pressure. The average adult should consume an estimated 3,500 milligrams of potassium per day; however, that number varies for pregnant or nursing mothers, children and those with certain health conditions. In fact, people who suffer from reduced kidney function or renal failure may not be able to process extra potassium, leading to hyperkalemia, or too much potassium. Medications such as diuretics, steroids and laxatives all can cause a loss of potassium, sometimes a severe loss.
Diarrhea and vomiting can cause a drop in potassium as well. If you experience excessive cramping during exercise, a lack of potassium might be the culprit. It’s always important to discuss your diet and health conditions with your doctor, so see him or her if you experience any of these problems. Excellent sources of potassium include: milk, yogurt, potatoes (particularly the skin), apricots, raisins, prunes, bananas, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, oranges, beans, peas, turkey and fish.