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Potassium is an essential mineral which is used as an electrolyte by our body to conduct electrical impulses throughout our body to carry out many vital functions like blood pressure regulation. Since our body doesn’t produce Potassium on its own, it has to be sourced from the food items, we eat.
Other vital functions of Potassium include
aid in digestion
Maintain the ph balance
People get enough necessary Potassium by eating a healthy balanced diet. Too little Potassium state is called Hypokalaemia may cause health problems. The Hypokalaemic condition is diagnosed by a blood level of less than 3.5 mmol/lit. Similarly, high potassium state is called Hyperkalaemia when blood level is more than 5.0 mmol/lit, which also causes health issues. So, the right balance is required. Daily Potassium requirement for the body is 3500 – 4700 mg per day. So, that is quite a massive amount of quantity for daily consumption.
Naturally, the kidneys maintain the level of Potassium in the body with the excess being eliminated in the urine. Majority of the Potassium in the body that is almost 98% is stored inside each bodily cell and the rest in liver, RBCs and bone.
Hypokalaemia: Symptoms can be muscular cramps, spasms, fatigue, constipation and irregular heartbeats. Health problems that cause this state can be:
Diuretics (water pills for high BP)
Excessive fluid loss (diarrhoea, vomiting, sweating)
The sources of Potassium-rich food are Avocado, Potatoes, sweet potatoes, all greens, most of the varieties of beans, Salmon, bananas.
Hyperkalaemia: In a healthy individual, the condition of Hyperkalaemia usually is not seen. So, there is no adverse effect on consuming potassium-rich food daily. However, such a state is seen in people with compromised kidney functions like in chronic kidney diseases, and those who take medications that affect kidney functions like blood pressure medication (ACE inhibitors). The most common symptom of Hyperkalaemia is abnormal heartbeat called Arrhythmia. Calcium gluconate is usually used to stabilize such cases.
In such an individual, food that is known to be rich sources of Potassium should be avoided.
Potassium is crucial for the body’s vital functions. To maintain the correct blood potassium level, consuming varieties of food items are good enough, to add up to a group of 4700 mg per day. Over the counter, Potassium supplements can provide only a small fraction of it, which is hardly useful. So, it is not recommended to use Potassium supplements unless specifically prescribed by your Physician.
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