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Potassium - Benefits, Deficiency Symptoms And Food Sources

Potassium is an important constituent of animal and vegetable cells. Potassium is an element (and an electrolyte) that's essential for the body's growth and maintenance. It's necessary to keep a normal water balance between the cells and body fluids. Potassium also plays an essential role in the response of nerves to stimulation and in the contraction of muscles. Cellular enzymes need potassium to work properly.

Benefits and functions of Potassium

Potassium works with sodium to maintain the body's water balance. One possible explanation for potassium's protective effect against hypertension is that increased potassium may increase the amount of sodium excreted from the body.

Potassium is concerned with cellular excitability. The irritability of the nerves and skeletal and heart muscles is determined by the relative amounts of potassium, calcium and magnesium. Muscular irritability is increased by increase in potassium or diminution of calcium and magnesium. Potassium is also necessary for the maintenance of acid-base balance.

Recommended dosage of Potassium

A normal adult requires 60-80 mEq (mmol) of potassium daily, equivalent to 2.5-3.3 g potassium or 4-6 g potassium chloride. Infants and children require about 1 mEq/kg body weight daily, Le., 75 mg potassium chloride per kg body weight.

Deficiency symptoms of Potassium

The kidneys excrete any excesses, but deficiencies are seldom found in people on normal diets, although most people could look at increasing their potassium intake. A deficiency may result in fatigue, cramping legs, muscle weakness, slow reflexes, acne, dry skin, mood changes, irregular heartbeat.

Food sources of Potassium

Food sources of potassium include dairy foods, fish, fruit, legumes, meat, poultry, dried fruits, potatoes, avocados, broccoli, legumes, papaya, raisins, vegetables, and whole grains .

Toxicity and symptoms of high intake

Excessive potassium can be toxic and will affect your heart, but is mainly a problem when you suffer from a problem such as kidney failure.

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