Potassium, is another mineral vital to the health of the body and is a member of the electrolyte family. Other members of this family include sodium and chloride. Unlike sodium and chloride, however, which are found mainly in the body fluids that surround cells, approximately 95% of the body's potassium is stored in the body fluids inside the cells.
One of the most important functions of potassium is its ability to control how our nerves and muscles act.
The balance of electrolytes passing through cell walls creates an electrical charge that helps cells communicate with one another.
These electrical impulses also cause muscle contractions.
See where I'm going with this?
As one of your body's largest muscles, your heart relies on a steady supply of potassium and the other electrolytes to keep it beating rhythmically around the clock.
Pretty important, huh?
If that isn't enough, dietary mineral potassium is also what controls the creation and storage of the muscles' main source of fuel, glycogen. Potassium assists in the process of converting glucose, or blood sugar, into glycogen.
Tests conducted on individuals with high blood pressure have shown that increasing the amount of potassium in their diet has helped them to lower their blood pressure. Tests have also shown that potassium can help relieve the pain of those suffering from arthritis by helping to remove the pain-causing acids from affected joints. When acid levels within the body become too high, potassium can help neutralize the excess acid. It also can bring relief to those suffering headaches and migraines.
The lungs would not be able to eliminate carbon dioxide and the kidneys could not function properly without potassium. If that is not enough, potassium is also responsible for controlling the water balance which is why symptoms of a potassium deficiency include an unquenchable thirst and inability to urinate.
Last, but definitely not least. of this long list of the health benefits of potassium is that providing the body with ample amounts of this dietary mineral all through life can help keep the bones from losing mass, a condition that leads to osteoporosis.
Sources of Potassium
As with so many other valuable nutrients, eating produce is the best way to ensure the body gets an ample supply of this all-important mineral. Bananas, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, orange juice, dates, apricots, prunes, potatoes, tomatoes, avocados and other fresh produce are excellent sources. Potassium is also found in legumes, meat, fish, poultry, whole grains and dairy products.
Interestingly enough, there simply isn't a recommended daily allowance for potassium. Fortunately most people are able to get enough potassium simply by consuming orange juice, potatoes and bananas.
Potassium is a water-soluble mineral. This simply means that excess amounts are safely eliminated from the body via the urine, so dangers from excess amounts rarely develop. However, individuals with kidneys that don't function normally could be prone to heart trouble.
Despite its easy availability, however, potassium deficiencies are possible. For example, they could be the result of excessive vomiting, diarrhea, overuse of diuretics and laxatives. Symptoms of a potassium deficiency can include: Water retention, loss of appetite, fatigue, insomnia, nausea, irregular heart beating, poor circulation, diabetes, earaches and headaches, hypertension, pain in the abdomen, nerves and muscles that don't function normally, a thirst that cannot be quenched, and an overall feeling of weakness.
Because of the ease of getting appropriate amounts of this dietary mineral from even a not-so-balanced diet, most people will not requre potassium supplements, if you can find one. It may or may not be included as an ingredient of a daily multivitamin. Don't be surprised or upset if, having found what you consider the best daily multivitmin, you find it does not provide potassium. Preparations which do include this dietary mineral often include only a small amount. For example, one excellent daily multivitamin contains only 80 mg, or 2% of an adult's daily requirement.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are often recommended as imporatant parts of a healthy eating regimen. One banana can supply nearly one-fourth of an adult's daily potassium need.