Benefits of Potassium
Remember how your mom always advised you to eat bananas all the time. By now, you probably know the reason behind this. Potassium, a mineral found in this tropical fruit, is very important for the normal functioning of cells, tissues and organs in the body. Like sodium, calcium, magnesium and chloride, it is also an electrolyte that conducts electricity inside the body.
Not to mention, it has a big role in terms of heart function, muscle and skeletal contraction, and digestive processes. It's good to know that bananas are not the only foods that have this mineral, so do other food items. This is why, it is imperative that you include in your diet foods that are high in potassium so that you can avoid potassium deficiency.
Dangers of Potassium Deficiency
Hypokalemia refers to the extreme deficiency in this mineral. This can affect overall health and result in weakness, muscle cramps, lack of energy, irregular heartbeats, and stomach ailments. Although hypokalemia is caused by losing too much potassium in the intestines or in the urine, you can help prevent it by having a high potassium diet.
Another danger of deficiency in potassium is high blood pressure. Studies show that low levels of potassium can increase the risk for hypertension.
People who don't get enough of this mineral in their diet are also more susceptible to stroke.
Dietary Sources of Potassium
The recommended daily intake of dietary potassium includes:
• Infants (birth to six months) - 500 mg or 13 mEq
• Infants (seven months to 12 months) - 700 mg or 18 mEq
• Children (one to five years) – 1,000 mg or 26 mEq to 1,400 mg or 36 mEq
• Children (six to 10 years) - 1,600 mg or 41 mEq to 2,000 mg or 51 mEq
• Adult - 2,000 mg or 51 Meq
Foods high in potassium containing 225 mg per 1/2 cup of servings include:
- all meats
- lima beans
- orange juice
- vegetable juice
- winter squash
These foods are especially beneficial to:
- nursing or pregnant women
- people who have suffered from heavy fluid loss
However, those who are on a potassium-restricted diet should only eat sparingly or avoid them if advised by the doctor.
Some foods that contain a moderate amount of potassium about 125 to 225 mg per 1/2 cup of serving are:
- apple juice
- green peas
- fresh mushrooms
- summer squash like zucchini
These food items should also be a part of nutritionally balanced diet plan.
Finally, there are these foods that contain low amount of potassium, about 125 mg per serving. These would include:
- bell peppers
- cranberry juice
- fruit cocktail
- green beans
- canned peaches
- fresh pineapple
It's very important to remember that while lack of potassium can cause problems, too much of this mineral isn't good either. It's important to achieve a balance in potassium intake to take advantage of its health benefits for the body.