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Potassium is so abundant in the human diet that no Recommended Daily Allowance even exists for this nutrient. However, don’t believe for a second that makes potassium any less important or essential. Playing a balancing game with sodium, potassium is an electrolyte that is involved in everything from muscle contractions to energy metabolism. So grab a potassium-rich glass of orange juice, have a seat, and read up on this seemingly insignificant, yet absolutely fundamental dietary mineral…

What Is Potassium?

Potassium is a mineral found inside & outside our cells. Known as an "electrolyte," potassium along with other minerals such as sodium, chloride & calcium, is essential for normal cellular function, conducting nerve impulses, initiating muscle contractions & helping the body to convert glucose, the primary energy molecule used by the body, into glycogen, the body's stored form of energy. As you can see, potassium is a very important mineral that our bodies need every day to stay healthy.

How Does Potassium Work?

Potassium works in opposition to sodium, keeping fluid balance in the body's cells. This partnership is what regulates our blood pressure, keeping our hearts ticking like a well-oiled machine. In fact, studies have shown that people who consume enough potassium every day have healthier blood-pressures than those who don't. Dietary potassium is especially important because the American diet is unnaturally high in sodium. You've probably heard that high sodium diets can lead to heart disease, heart failure, or even stroke. A good balance of potassium can counteract the negative effects of sodium on blood pressure, but not quite as well as lowering sodium intake will.

How Can I Make The Most Out Of Potassium?

There is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) for potassium, but experts say that you should try and get between 2,000-3,000 mg per day. This is not hard to do, and most people will meet this requirement without even trying.
 

Food sources of potassium include fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as meats, poultry and milk products. One large orange will supply you with 250 mg of potassium, one-eighth of your daily need. Besides oranges; bananas, potatoes, avocados, lima beans, cantaloupes, peaches, tomatoes, flounder, salmon, cod, chicken, milk and yogurt can also provide you with potassium.

A healthy tip: when cooking these foods, remember this: steaming helps to lock in nutrients that are otherwise lost through cooking techniques, such as boiling. If you boil a potato you will lose about 50% of its potassium content by the time you're done cooking it. Steaming the same potato will result in only a 6% loss of valuable potassium, as well as helping to lock in other yummy nutrients.

What are the Safety Issues Surrounding Potassium?

Since it's so easy to get enough potassium in your diet, deficiency of potassium is rare, but it can occur if you're taking
a diuretic or have excessive diarrhoea or vomiting. Each of these conditions causes a loss of body fluids, thus an unbalanced electrolyte level in the body. The first sign of potassium deficiency is weak muscles and nausea. If fluid and electrolyte balance is not restored, risk of heart failure increases dramatically.

Toxicity of potassium is highly unlikely as well, occurring only if you have a kidney disorder and are ingesting too much potassium. In healthy people, if you ingest too much potassium your kidneys will simply excrete the excess amount in the urine. However, those with kidney disease cannot process electrolytes normally and potassium can build up in the body and cause problems. Irregular heart beat and muscle fatigue are two signs of toxic potassium levels.

Caution: If you are taking an ACE-inhibitor for high blood pressure or for a heart condition, or if you have a kidney disorder, you should not take a potassium supplement, as it can interact with your medication.

If you found these tips helpful, here's the most important advice of all I can give you: A healthy lifestyle begins with a healthy body. Don't leave your health to chance. You get your Personalized Hair and Mineral Analysis Profile (Australia only) to find out which vitamins are right for your lifestyle, risk factors and nutrient needs by clicking the link below.

A healthy tip: when cooking these foods, remember this: steaming helps to lock in nutrients that are otherwise lost through cooking techniques, such as boiling. If you boil a potato you will lose about 50% of its potassium content by the time you're done cooking it. Steaming the same potato will result in only a 6% loss of valuable potassium, as well as helping to lock in other yummy nutrients.

What are the Safety Issues Surrounding Potassium?

Since it's so easy to get enough potassium in your diet, deficiency of potassium is rare, but it can occur if you're taking a diuretic or have excessive diarrhoea or vomiting. Each of these conditions causes a loss of body fluids, thus an unbalanced electrolyte level in the body. The first sign of potassium deficiency is weak muscles and nausea. If fluid and electrolyte balance is not restored, risk of heart failure increases dramatically.

Toxicity of potassium is highly unlikely as well, occurring only if you have a kidney disorder and are ingesting too much potassium. In healthy people, if you ingest too much potassium your kidneys will simply excrete the excess amount in the urine. However, those with kidney disease cannot process electrolytes normally and potassium can build up in the body and cause problems. Irregular heart beat and muscle fatigue are two signs of toxic potassium levels.

Caution: If you are taking an ACE-inhibitor for high blood pressure or for a heart condition, or if you have a kidney disorder, you should not take a potassium supplement, as it can interact with your medication.

If you found these tips helpful, here's the most important advice of all I can give you: A healthy lifestyle begins with a healthy body. Don't leave your health to chance.

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