How Does Potassium Help Your Body?

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What is potassium?

Potassium is a substance that helps numerous functions in the body. Maintaining proper potassium levels can help a person's heart, muscles and even digestion--provided a person sustains an equal amount of sodium along with it. Potassium has to work with other chemicals like magnesium, it does not help the body alone. In conjunction with sodium, potassium mainly helps regulate the level of water in the body, both of which are partly maintained by the kidneys. A person has to keep a certain amount of water in their body to maintain normal cells. The kidneys regulate how much potassium stays in the body--too much and a person may develop heart problems, like arrythmia, for example.

Can potassium actually promote "good" health?

Several studies have indicated that potassium may decrease a person's risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. It may also reduce stress, chronic anxiety and fatigue. Potassium has also been reported to even minimize depression in some people. This is not to suggest that potassium is a "cure all," by any means.

Is too much dangerous?

People with too much potassium in their body can develop serious medical problems, so be careful if you decide to start taking supplements. Too much potassium will cause a person to vomit almost uncontrollably. Certain medical conditions can send a person's potassium blood level is too high, which can result in hyperkalemia. It is characterized by marked nausea, weak pulse and irregular heartbeat.

What if I have too little?

If your potassium level is too low, you can develop hypokalemia. The condition generally develops when people continually lose body fluid without replenishing their system. In more serious cases, people have been known to develop life-threatening muscle paralysis. Normal symptoms, however could include dizziness, cramping and pronounced respiratory depression.

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