Potassium – description

April 21, 2011

Minerals, Potassium

  1. Potassium Intake

    • Potassium is a mineral found in a variety of foods, including bananas, avocados, eggs, salmon, mushrooms, spinach, almonds, soy flour and cantaloupe. Most people are able to obtain sufficient levels of potassium from diet alone, but those who are on restricted diets or who suffer from certain medical conditions may need to take a supplement. Potassium is readily absorbed when taken internally and is one of the most abundant and important minerals in the human body.

    Electrolyte Function

    • Once inside the body, potassium becomes an ion and functions as an electrolyte. Electrolytes play a role in the regulation of many life-sustaining processes, including blood pressure regulation, nerve function and muscle contraction. Potassium also assists in carbohydrate and protein metabolism.

    Potassium Regulation

    • Potassium is regulated by the kidneys and helps to eliminate excess sodium from the body. Potassium and sodium also work together inside the body to regulate the amount of water moving in and out of the cells. Increasing potassium levels, whether through diet or supplementation, may prevent the development of hypertension in people who are abnormally sensitive to excess sodium.

    Hyperkalemia: High Potassium

    • Because the kidneys regulate potassium levels, people who suffer from kidney disease may develop high levels of potassium in the body. This condition, known as hyperkalemia, may result in nausea and stomach pain.

    Hypokalemia: Low Potassium

    • Conditions that increase the amount of fluid being excreted by the body may result in hypokalemia, or low levels of potassium in the body. Hypokalemia can be a result of severe diarrhea, low-calorie diets, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, poor control of diabetes, severe sweating or chronic alcoholism. Symptoms of hypokalemia include muscle cramps, aches, muscle weakness,and changes in heart rhythm. Diet is very rarely a cause of hypokalemia.

Read more: How Does Potassium Work? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4569206_potassium-work.html#ixzz1K9AFvIal

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