Vitamins And Minerals: What Is Potassium?

Are you getting enough potassium vitamins and minerals in your daily diet? Find out more about Potassium and its essential role in the human body.

Potassium comes in several forms, and it is alternately known by the names potassium amino acid, potassium gluconate, potassium citrate and potassium acetate. Potassium plays an integral role in the human body in controlling the water balance of the body. Potassium works in conjunction with sodium in order to keep water levels in the body consistent. Potassium is also necessary for proper functioning of nerve impulses and the contraction of all muscle in the human body. Potassium also helps to maintain a regular, normal heart rhythm. Potassium's other essential function in the human body is to store carbohydrates which then are broken down for energy.

The dietary sources for potassium are vast and varied. However, the absolute best source of dietary potassium can be found in the consumption of green leafy vegetables. Other excellent sources are bananas and oranges. Along with those fruits, potassium can be found in good amounts in vegetables such as potatoes and beans. Milk products are also rich in this mineral, as are most lean meats. However, potassium levels in foods are often decreased due to the processing methods of most manufactured food products.

Even though it is so important to proper functioning of the human organism, potassium deficiency does occur with the primary manifestation of the deficiency being in muscle weakness and fatigue. Sufferers of potassium deficiency may also experience symptoms such as dizziness and mental confusion. In extreme cases, the starvation of potassium sources in the human body can cause impairment of nerve and muscle functioning which results in abnormal heart rhythms. Additionally, potassium deficiency can cause the musculoskeletal system to essentially freeze up therefore constricting the bowel and causing constipation.

Recommended intakes of potassium vary, but the common agreement among professionals seems to be that between 4 and 6 grams of potassium a day will prevent deficiency. Typically, potassium levels in the blood are regulated by the kidneys and any excess potassium is eliminated in the urine. However, excess potassium can cause severe muscular paralysis and heart rhythm deficiencies. Of course, before starting any form of supplementation you should consult your health care practitioner.

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