Potassium is an essential mineral necessary for normal kidney function, skeletal and cardiac muscle contraction, nerve conductions, energy production and blood pressure maintenance. Potassium can be found in fresh foods but is easily lost during food processing.
Deficiency and Toxicity
Potassium deficiency, or hypokalemia, is caused by diarrhea, vomiting, excess sweating, malnutrition, or diuretic overuse. Potassium levels are dependent on the balance of sodium and (to a lesser extent) magnesium in the body. Individuals with irritable bowel disease (IBD), especially ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease are especially susceptible to a potassium deficiency.
Too much potassium in the blood causes hyperkalemia. Elderly individuals may develop this condition as kidney function diminishes, and should be sure to check with a healthcare provider regularly.
Health Benefits of Potassium
Potassium is a vital electrolyte that helps the body maintain fluid balance and coordinated muscular and nervous function. Low levels of potassium are associated with hypokalemia, high blood pressure and asthma. Studies have shown that a healthy potassium intake helps protect against osteoporosis by preserving bone mass. In addition, those who take in enough of the mineral may also enjoy a reduced risk of stroke.
Using Potassium Supplements
Use as directed by the product label or your doctor. Do not take potassium supplements indiscriminately.
Sidse-effects and Cautions:
Consult your physician before using any dietary supplements if you are currently taking any medications, as potassium may interact with other medications or drugs you are taking.