Potassium is a mineral that your body needs to work properly. It is a type of electrolyte.The best way to obtain extra potassium is to eat several pieces of fruit per day, as well as liberal amounts of vegetables. The amount of potassium found in the diet ranges from about 2.5 grams to about 5.8 grams per day. The amount allowed in supplements—99 mg per tablet or capsule—is very low, considering that one banana can contain 500 mg. Check with your doctor before taking large amounts of potassium since it may irritate the stomach.
Potassium is a very important mineral for the human body.
Your body needs potassium to:
- Build proteins
- Break down and use carbohydrates
- Build muscle
- Maintain normal body growth
- Control the electrical activity of the heart
- Control the acid-base balance
Foods that are high in potassium
Many foods contain potassium. All meats (red meat and chicken) and fish such as salmon, cod, flounder, and sardines are good sources of potassium. Soy products and veggie burgers are also good sources of potassium.
Vegetables including broccoli, peas, lima beans, tomatoes, potatoes (especially their skins), sweet potatoes, and winter squash are all good sources of potassium.
Dried apricots contain more potassium than fresh apricots.
Fruits that contain significant amounts of potassium include citrus fruits, cantaloupe, bananas, kiwi, prunes, and apricots. Dried apricots contain more potassium than fresh apricots.
Cantaloupe contains a significant amount of potassium
Milk, yogurt, and nuts are also excellent sources of potassium.
People with kidney problems, especially those on dialysis, should not eat too many potassium-rich foods. The doctor or nurse will recommend a special diet.
Having too much or too little potassium in the body can cause serious health problems.
A low blood level of potassium is called hypokalemia. It can cause weak muscles, abnormal heart rhythms, and a slight rise in blood pressure. You may have hypokalemia if you:
Take diuretics (water pills) to treat high blood pressure or heart failure
Take too many laxatives
Have severe or prolonged vomiting and diarrhoea
Have certain kidney or adrenal gland disorders
Too much potassium in the blood is known as hyperkalemia. It may cause abnormal and dangerous heart rhythms. Some common causes include:
Poor kidney function
Heart medicines called angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin 2 receptor blockers (ARBs)
Potassium-sparing diuretics (water pills) such as spironolactone or amiloride