According to the National Academies' Food and Nutrition Board, an adequate intake of potassium is 4.7 grams per day. In North America, however, the average consumption of potassium is approximately 3 grams in men and less than 2.5 grams in women.
Importance of Potassium in Maintaining Health
Potassium is a very significant body mineral, important to both cellular and electrical function. It is one of the main blood minerals called "electrolytes" (the others are sodium and chloride), which means it carries a tiny electrical charge (potential).
Potassium is the primary positive ion (cation) found within the cells, where 98 percent of the 120 grams of potassium contained in the body is found. The blood serum contains about 4-5 mg. (per 100 ml.) of the total potassium; the red blood cells contain 420 mg., which is why a red-blood-cell level is a better indication of an individual's potassium status than the commonly used serum level.
Potassium is important to maintain several bodily functions, such as:
ü Muscles need potassium to contract.
ü The heart muscle needs potassium to beat properly and regulate blood pressure.
ü The kidney is the main organ that controls the balance of potassium by removing excess potassium into the urine.
When potassium levels are low (hypokalemia), you can become weak as cellular processes are impaired.
A potassium level that is too high or too low can be serious. Abnormal potassium levels may cause symptoms such as:
ü muscle cramps or weakness,
ü frequent urination,
ü low blood pressure,
ü paralysis, and
ü changes in heart rhythm.
6 Warning Signs of Low Potassium Levels
#1: General Fatigue
The general feeling of fatigue is another symptom of being lack in potassium. This will eventually make you feel tired not because of overworking or overexertion, but of no explainable reason.
In order to be able to work correctly, each and every cell inside the body requires potassium, meaning that potassium deficiency can affect the function of both cells and organs.
If you are suffering from general fatigue when you are about to do your everyday activities, you have to visit your doctor, so that he can diagnose the real reason behind your heart problem.
#2: Tingling and Numbness
Potassium is really essential mineral in the body, which has the ability to enhance the health of the nerves. If you are suffering from potassium deficiency, you may actually experience burning sensation and even numbness.
Potassium deficiency can lead to side effects on the functions of the body, just like the digestion process. It in turn may cause cramping and abdominal bloating.
Nevertheless, the low potassium level is not the chief reason behind bloating. Therefore, you have to know the kinds of food that results to constipation.
#4: Feeling Bloated
When your body lacks in potassium, it find it hard to regulate the levels of sodium that will eventually lead to salt-induced bloating.
#5: Heart Palpitations
Potassium deficiency can dangerously affect the health of your heart. It may cause irregular heartbeat and even palpitations without knowing the reason. The electrical impulses might be also interrupted by the deficiency of potassium that will eventually result to arrhythmia. Because of this reason, it is extremely essential to consume potassium rich foods to avoid the development of cardiovascular diseases and strokes.
#6: High Blood Pressure
Potassium has been widely known due to its ability to minimize the effects of sodium in the body. This actually means that it is really essential to consume foods that are packed with potassium so you will be able to regulate your blood pressure level.
Sources: SF Gate | eMedicine Health
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