Sunday, October 26, 2008

Importance of Potassium

You may ask, "Why potassium?" Oh well... It's because I have this friend who was admitted to the hospital last week because of heart inflammation (?). And the cause? Potassium Deficiency. Years ago, I also had a classmate who was also sick due to the same cause. And so I started to wonder what potassium is and how important it is to our body. I did some research and here's what I found.


Potassium’s roles in the body include:

  • maintains fluid and electrolyte balance
  • helps transmit nerve impulses
  • helps regulate blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke
  • helps maintain a regular heartbeat
  • helps prevent muscle cramps
  • Bananas, just one of many potassium-rich foods, are often recommended by health care professionals because they are readily available, easy to chew; and sweet in taste, which almost everyone likes. (Thank God I often eat banana. It's my favorite!)


    Normally an overdose of potassium is not life-threatening, since excess potassium triggers a vomiting reflex in the stomach. Babies and people with weak hearts may not be able to withstand this trauma. Consuming too much potassium can be harmful to people with kidney problems, because they are unable to get rid of the excess.

    There is no major chronic disease associated with too much potassium. When excess potassium is present in the blood, the cause is usually a health problem such as kidney failure, uncontrolled diabetes or use of certain drugs. Excess potassium can trigger a heart attack and result in death.


    A potassium deficiency is unlikely in healthy people, unless the diet primarily consists of highly processed foods on a continuous basis. A deficiency is usually caused by losing excessive amounts of potassium rather than not getting enough in the diet.

    The earliest symptoms of a deficiency are tiredness, muscle weakness, and heart muscle irritability, followed by paralysis and confusion. The following conditions can cause a potassium deficiency:

  • dehydration (includes excessive sweating)
  • prolonged diarrhea or vomiting (includes anorexia nervosa and bulimia)
  • diabetic acidosis
  • regular use of certain drugs such as diuretics, strong laxatives and steroids
  • certain chronic diseases like adrenal gland disorders, nephritis and acute leukemia
  • Note: Low potassium symptoms can last for days.

    There you have it... so guys, put some potassium inside your system if you don't want to be rushed to the hospital. *winks* Take care!


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