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The Importance of Potassium

by Kimberly Hays August 2nd, 2012 | Nutrition, Vitamins
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If you have ever woken up in the middle of the night with a leg cramp, you have most likely felt the effects of a potassium deficiency. Potassium is an important nutrient that helps in maintaining healthy tissue in our muscles, as well as keeping our cells healthy. It also is essential to our heart health, as it helps control our blood pressure. Potassium deficiency has also been linked to depression and severe fatigue.

Someone can think they are seriously ill, even thinking they are having a heart attack, when it can just be a potassium deficiency. Of course, always seek medical attention, but it is easy to avoid this deficiency with the use of supplements or the right foods in your diet.

Leg cramps, also called a “Charlie horse” by some, is caused because the muscles in your legs rely on potassium to function. A lack of potassium will cause the muscles to contract and spasm, because they are dehydrated from the lack of the mineral to carry the necessary nutrients to it.

As for heart health, potassium helps your body to pump blood to your heart. Potassium is especially important if you have high blood pressure or any other heart condition. It is important because it is responsible for our heart beating.

Depression can also be caused by a potassium deficiency. Our brains need potassium in order for the neurons to fire correctly. When deficient, our brains do not have the ability to function in a healthy way, which can cause hostility, irritability, and deep sadness.

Severe fatigue that can often be thought to be other disorders can also be caused by a potassium deficiency. Because of the weakening of muscles, swings in heart rhythm, and lack of nutrients to the brain, the combination can bring about weakness.

These issues can all be avoided with the proper amount of potassium in your diet. There are supplements available that should be monitored by your doctor to ensure you aren’t getting too much, which has its own issues, but the easiest way to be certain you are getting enough potassium is through your diet. Foods that are rich in potassium are fish, especially salmon and tuna, lean meats, such as turkey and chicken, as well as vegetables and fruits, like bananas, avocados, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, and lima beans. Your target for a daily intake of potassium is 4.7 grams. Eating a healthy diet which includes these foods will almost guarantee that you will not be afflicted with the aforementioned health issues caused by this nutrient deficiency.

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Comments One Response to “The Importance of Potassium”
  1. Nick says:

    I have woken up many times with a Leg cramp yet i have enough potassium.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.