Potassium is a micronutrient mineral. This means that they are needed by your body in small quantity but they are important for proper functioning of the body. It is a mineral which you get from the foods you eat. It is an important mineral which is classified as an electrolyte.
Why do we need potassium?
It has an electric charge in your body and your body needs potassium for several essential functions like maintaining fluid balance, heart health, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction, and for proper function of all cells, tissues, and organs. In addition to all these functions potassium helps your body to utilize the protein you eat to build muscle, bones, and other cells.
Some other important electrolytes present in your body include sodium and magnesium.
Who needs to pay attention to potassium?
Potassium is essential for our body to function properly. But experts do not recommend taking more potassium than required as different people need different amounts of potassium and excess potassium can be harmful to certain people.
Who needs to watch their potassium intake?
Kidney disease: If you have kidney disease you need to watch your potassium intake. People with kidney disease are at risk of accumulating too much potassium in the blood as their kidneys cannot get rid of extra potassium as a normal kidney would. Other causes of increase in levels of potassium in blood are certain medications and certain hormonal deficiencies. However, kidney disease is the commonest cause of an increase in potassium level in blood. High levels of potassium can affect your heart health and cause irregular heartbeats. So if you have kidney disease or any other factor which puts you at risk of an increase in potassium level in your blood consult your doctor periodically to check potassium levels.
High blood pressure: People with high blood pressure or hypertension can develop low potassium levels (hypokalemia). This occurs mostly due to medications for blood pressure which can deplete potassium levels in the blood. Some other conditions which may cause low potassium levels in blood include vomiting, diarrhoea, drugs and eating disorders. Low potassium causes symptoms like weakness, fatigue, constipation, and muscle cramps. Very low levels of potassium can affect your heartbeat as well. If you take blood pressure medication or have a condition that increases your risk of low potassium level consult your doctor periodically to check potassium levels.
Most of us think of bananas when we talk about potassium, but besides banana, there are several other foods that are high in potassium like dried apricots, beets, figs, melon, orange juice, potatoes (with the skin on), soy products, dairy products, and meats. Most of us enjoy foods these foods, but if you have a condition that increases your risk of alteration in blood levels of potassium consult your doctor periodically to check your potassium levels. Consult your doctor or nutritionist to plan a healthy diet for you.