Today, modern diets lack the required potassium content. The culture of excessive processing, overcooking and adding too much salt to meals robs the food of this vital nutrient. Potassium is one of the essential minerals required for nutrition. It plays the role of a positive ion or electrolyte inside cells and maintains fluid balance in the body. It aids the transmission of nerve impulses and allows muscle contraction.
The best way to ensure that your potassium intake is up to the mark is to include natural unprocessed foods in your diet as much as possible. Food sources of potassium are broccoli, peas, potatoes (especially their skins), leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, apples, bananas, apricots, avocados and tender coconut water. Several meats and fish like salmon, cod, flounder and sardines will also add the mineral to your diet. Nutritional supplements of potassium are also available.
A supplement on an average supplies 90mg of potassium to your body and can even have side effects, whereas a banana contains 500mg of potassium! The natural option is much better for your body. Supplements are useful only in certain medical conditions for example, when the patient is on diuretics. Its also important not to neglect the intake of other nutrients, as the absorption of all nutrients in the body is interdependent.
Apart from dietary deficiency, conditions like vomiting and diarrhea can also deplete the body of potassium. A deficiency of potassium is known as Hypokalemia and can have repercussions like arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, weakness and fatigue, irregular heart beats, and even infertility. But that doesn’t mean your potassium intake shouldn’t have an upper limit.
Excess intake or Hyperkalemia can also cause health problems. Kidney disease patients are advised to avoid large quantities of potassium, since potassium buildup in the kidney can cause fatal heart problems for them. So work out a balanced diet plan with the help of the above mentioned food sources of potassium, to ensure that your intake is near optimum.