Potassium Rich Foods

November 12, 2012

Potassium Rich Foods

Potassium is essential for the normal functioning of your cells, tissues, and organs. The electrolyte can be obtained from a wide variety of potassium rich foods. Deficiency of potassium is known as hypokalemia, while excess of it is known as hyperkalemia.

Daily Value

Most individuals require 400 to 5,100 mg of potassium per day, depending on their age and overall health. Pregnant women and nursing mothers have the highest requirement, while infants and babies have the lowest requirement. You can obtain the required potassium from food or from natural and synthetic supplements. Potassium deficiency may occur due to poor nutrition, or due to potassium malabsorption syndromes characterized by diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating and malnutrition.

Role in the Body

Potassium has many functions in your body:

  • Potassium rich foods may improve bone health, and prevent the incidence of osteoporosis in elderly women.
  • Lack of potassium can lead to fatigue, digestive disturbances, muscle cramps, poor co-ordination and irregular heartbeat. The condition may be life-threatening, and requires specific treatment.
  • Potassium can also regulate your blood pressure. Individuals consuming potassium rich foods have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases.
  • Potassium also lowers the risk of stroke. However, potassium supplements don’t have the same benefits as foods rich in the mineral have.
  • Potassium maintains the pH balance of our body. It is important for efficient functioning of the brain and other neurons.
  • Diabetes patients who consume sufficient amounts of potassium have normal blood sugar levels. It revitalizes pancreatic cells and improves insulin production.

Potassium Rich Foods

Fruits and vegetables are the major sources of potassium. A single cup of banana contains 594 mg of potassium, one cup of beetroot contains 519 mg of the mineral, while a cup of cooked Brussels sprouts contain 504 mg of potassium. Baked potato is another important source of the mineral. One average sized baked potato contains 1081 mg of potassium. Other potassium rich foods include prunes, tomatoes, cooked spinach, lima beans, squash and orange juice. Cantaloupes, apricots, dates, strawberries, watermelon, peas, mushrooms and grapefruit are also rich in the mineral.

You should, however, remember that excessive consumption potassium rich foods may lead to kidney problems as the organ finds it difficult to excrete excessive amounts of the mineral. The elevated potassium levels may also interfere with certain anti-diabetic medications as well. High potassium levels can cause low blood pressure, poor immune system, anxiety, insomnia and irritability as well.

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