Potassium - Essential Mineral & Electrolyte
Potassium is an essential mineral that serves as an electrolyte important to the healthy functioning of the human nervous system, muscle function, fluid balance, and to heart, kidney, and adrenal functions. Potassium plays a key role in regulating water balance in the body, pH balance, transmitting nerve impulses, maintaining healthy bones, assisting carbohydrate metabolism, and in controlling muscle contraction, including the heart.
Natural Sources of Potassium and Potassium Loss
Various types of fish such as salmon, cod, flounder, and sardines are good sources of potassium. Vegetables such as broccoli, peas, lima beans, tomatoes, potatoes (especially potato skins), and leafy green vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and parsley also contain potassium. In terms of fruits, apples, bananas and apricots are also good sources (dried apricots contain more potassium than fresh apricots).
While such food sources can provide our bodies with potassium, potassium deficiency is common nowadays. Some potential causes of potassium depletion include dehydration (from exercise, exposure to heat, or not drinking proper amounts of fluids), illness that causes fluid loss, as well as some diuretic drugs.
Notes: Potassium can cause stomach upset, nausea, and diarrhea. People undergoing diuretic therapy should consult a healthcare professional and monitor potassium levels. Too much potassium can cause weakness vertigo, and mental confusion and other serious conditions.