Foods have specific nutrients in them and more is being learned everyday about how those nutrients affect our bodies, like eating whole wheat for fiber, oranges for vitamin C, oysters for zinc, and bananas for potassium. Potassium has been linked to the prevention of some major medical conditions and it's very simple to get all you need by eating the right foods.
Potassium is a major positive ion inside human cells and is responsible for helping our cells with body functions, such as muscle contraction, heart function and brain function. Potassium is found in many different foods and getting enough can be accomplished by incorporating these foods into your normal diet.
Most people consume only about half of the daily recommended amount of potassium. Foods rich in potassium include potatoes, bananas, turnips, parsnips, avocados, apricots, orange juice, tomatoes, broccoli, soybeans, brown rice and garlic. All of these foods contain high levels of potassium and many other nutrients as well.
Increasing your daily intake of potassium rich foods can have great long term health benefits. Studies suggest that getting enough potassium can help lower blood pressure, reduce the bodies sensitivity to salt, reduce the chances of developing kidney stones, reduce the risk of stroke, and possibly reduce the risk of heart disease.
Low levels of potassium can increase your risk of developing long-term health issues. After having any illness that causes diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration it's important to increase your intake of potassium rich foods. If you experience muscle weakness, cramps, loss of reflex response or trouble breathing after having persistent diarrhea, vomiting or strenuous exercise, you should be treated for dehydration. If you keep hydrated and are eating a balanced diet including foods rich in potassium, you are less likely to become severely dehydrated during sickness or strenuous activity.
The recommended daily allowance of potassium for adults is 4700 mg. Potassium supplements are rarely recommended. One of the few times supplements are recommended is when taking diuretics because as the body rids itself of sodium and water some potassium goes along with it, these type of supplements should only be taken under doctors order. Potassium supplements have been regulated under U.S. law to prevent overdose. Taking too much can cause the potassium to build up in the body faster than the kidneys can process it. This happens mostly to people suffering from decreased kidney function. In people with normal kidney function, too much potassium can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. In severe cases, symptoms can also include tingling in the hands and feet, muscle weakness, and muscle cramping. If left untreated, over consumption of potassium can eventually lead to cardiac arrest.