This mineral is important for a healthy nervous system and a regular heart rhythm. It helps prevent stroke, aids in proper muscle contraction, and works with sodium to control the body’s water balance. Potassium is important for chemical reactions within the cells and aids in maintaining stable blood pressure and in transmitting electrochemical impulses. A 1997 review of earlier studies showed that low potassium intake might be a significant factor in the development of high blood pressure. A high intake of potassium protects several body systems, including cardiovascular, kidney, and bone. The potassium in fruits and vegetables contains organic salts such as malate and citrate, which neutralize the acid urine that can cause kidney stones. Potassium also regulates the transfer of nutrients through cell membranes. This function of potassium has been shown to decrease with age, which may account for some of the circulatory damage, lethargy, and weakness experienced by older people. Together with magnesium, potassium can help prevent calcium-oxalate kidney stones.
In one study, healthy individuals with normal blood pressure experienced lower blood pressure from both potassium chloride and potassium citrate. The levels were still normal, but on the lower side of normal, which is desirable. The amount of potassium given in this study was equivalent of what is found in five half- cup servings of fruits and vegetables. Anyone with high blood pressure would benefit from lowered blood pressure to reduce heart disease risk.
Signs of potassium deficiency include abnormally dry skin, acne, chills, cognitive impairment, constipation, depression, diarrhea, diminished reflex function, edema, nervousness, insatiable thirst, fluctuations in heartbeat, glucose intolerance, growth impairment, high cholesterol levels, insomnia, low blood pressure, muscular fatigue and weakness, nausea and vomiting, periodic headaches, proteinuria, respiratory distress and salt retention.
Food sources of potassium include dairy foods. fish , fruit, legumes, meat, poultry, vegetables and whole grains. High amounts are found in apricots, avocados, bananas, lima beans, blackstrap molasses, brewers yeast, brown rice, dates, dulse, figs, dried fruit, garlic, nuts, potatoes, raisins, spinach, torula yeast, wheat bran, winter squash, catnip, hops, nettle, plantain, red clover, sage, and skullcap.
It is recommend to consume 2.5 to 3.5 grams of potassium per day.
Kidney disorders, diarrhea, and the use of diuretics or laxatives all disrupt potassium levels. Tobacco and caffeine reduce potassium absorption. Using large amounts of licorice over along periods can deplete the body’s potassium supply.
Potassium is needed for hormone secretion. The secretion of stress hormones cause a decrease in the potassium to-sodium ratio both inside and outside the cells. As a result stress increases the body’s potassium requirement.
- Prescription for Nutritional Healing By Phyllis A. Balch, CNC