The Importance of Potassium

A serving of banana a day, keeps you from a doctor away. Ever wondered why it earns this recognition. Banana is considered as one of the richest source of Potassium.

What Is Potassium?

Potassium is one of the essential minerals. The greater portions are found in our bones, while the smaller quantity of it, can be found inside our body cells. It serves as a sentinel of the body water inside the cells.

However, a smaller quantity of Potassium can also be found outside the cells, which is crucial on the activity of the muscles specifically the heart muscles. Small variations of Potassium levels in the body can signals change in the Electrocardiogram (ECG). ECG is a test that records the electrical activity of the heart.

In addition, Potassium is necessary in water and acid base balance of the body, aids in the conversion of glucose to glycogen (the storage form of glucose that will be used up if the body needs it such as in fasting), serves as a catalyst to many enzymes that is needed for body processes. In other words, Potassium is vital to many important chemical processes that the lack or excess of it creates disturbance in our system.

Potassium Requirement

Based on our recommended energy and nutrient intake, an adult needs about 1600mg to 2000mg of Potassium. This is the safe level of our body to maintain homeostasis or balance.

Food Sources of Potassium

Potassium is widely distributed in natural foods. A serving of a medium size of banana contains about 490mg of Potassium. Among the many rich sources of Potassium are legumes, whole grains, oranges, avocado, broccoli and green leafy vegetables.

Potassium Alert

Though Potassium is necessary, precautions must be taken care of, especially for those who are taking medications which leads to excretion of Potassium such as diuretics. This can lead to a condition called hypokalemia, (Low levels of Potassium in the blood).

It is imperative to consult the doctor if you are taking medications for the heart and kidney problems.

The Lack and Excess of Potassium

Hypokalemia is a condition with low levels of Potassium in the blood. The normal level of Potassium in the body is 3.5-5.5 mEq/L; this condition needs immediate medical intervention. Any condition that leads to lowering of Potassium levels in the body should be closely watched such as diabetic ketoacidosis, renal problems, and Cushings Syndrome (hormonal problems). Among the earliest signs of Potassium deficiency are muscle weakness, fatigue, confusion, hypertension and depression.

Hyperkalemia is a disorder with a Potassium level greater than 5.5 mEq/L has been linked to kidney problems. Symptoms of hyperkalemia include malaise (body weakness), palpitations and mild hyperventilation.

These are the basic facts that everyone needs to know. Potassium is essential for our bodily processes, but careful monitoring of Potassium rich foods must also be observed to prevent disturbance that can lead to abnormal rhythm of the heart which would eventually cause cardiac arrest and death.

Thus, the adage of a banana a day, will keep us healthier each day is true.

2 comments

  1. Perry Nosa Obasuyi Reply
    February 26, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Very refreshing and educative article that everybody should read and understand.

  2. L. Waker Reply
    May 23, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    This is a great article. I knew we needed potassium but didn't realize the importance.

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