Potassium is a mineral that helps your cells work the right way. It helps make the electricity that lets your cells do their work properly. Your nerves and muscles — including your heart — might not work the way they should if you are deficient for it.
How Much Do You Need?
If you’re 14 or older, you should get about 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day. Breastfeeding mothers need more: 5,100 milligrams.
- 0 to 6 months: 400 milligrams
- 7 to 12 months: 700 milligrams
- 1 to 3 years: 3,000 milligrams
- 4 to 8 years: 3,800 milligrams
- 9 to 13 years: 4,500 milligrams
Most excess potassium is eliminated in the urine; some is eliminated in the sweat. When we perspire a great deal, we should replace our fluids with orange juice or vegetable juice containing potassium rather than just taking salt tablets. The kidneys are the chief regulators of our body potassium, keeping the blood levels steady even with wide variation in intake. The adrenal hormone aldosterone stimulates elimination of potassium by the kidneys. Alcohol, coffee (and caffeine drinks), sugar, and diuretic drugs, however, cause potassium losses and can contribute to lowering the blood potassium. This mineral is also lost with vomiting and diarrhea.
Potassium and Osteoporosis
As people age, their bones tend to get brittle. The typical diet of our country doesn’t help, either. Lots of meat and dairy can cause your body to make too much acid, and that can weaken your bones faster. Foods rich in potassium — mostly fruits and vegetables — can slow it down.
Potassium is very important in cellular biochemical reactions and energy metabolism; it participates in the synthesis of protein from amino acids in the cell. Potassium also functions in carbohydrate metabolism; it is active in glycogen and glucose metabolism, converting glucose to glycogen that can be stored in the liver for future energy. Potassium is important for normal growth and for building muscle.
In medicine, potassium is one of the most commonly prescribed minerals.
Deficiency of potassium is much more common, especially with aging or chronic disease. Some common problems that have been associated with low potassium levels include hypertension, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, fatigue, and depression and other mood changes.
Fatigue is the most common symptom of chronic potassium deficiency. Early symptoms include muscle weakness, slow reflexes, and dry skin or acne; these initial problems may progress to nervous disorders, insomnia, slow or irregular heartbeat, and loss of gastrointestinal tone.
A single medium banana has 422 milligrams of potassium. Before exercise just have one piece, and notice the changes. It gives amazing energy after and during work out.
A medium potato baked with skin has a whopping 926 milligrams of potassium. So enjoy your baked potato, but keep the extras like sour cream, oils and cheese to a minimum.
A half cup of dried prunes has 637 milligrams of potassium, and loads of fiber as well. (If you’d rather drink your prunes, 6 ounces of juice has almost as much.) just don’t overdo the sugar and fat.