Potassium is a significant body mineral, important to both cellular and electrical function. It is one of the main blood minerals called electrolytes, which means it carries a tiny electrical charge. Research has found that a high-sodium diet with low potassium intake influences vascular volume and tends to elevate the blood pressure. The appropriate course is to shift to natural potassium-rich foods and away from high salt foods. A natural diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is rich in potassium and low in sodium, helping to maintain normal blood pressure and sometimes lowering elevated blood pressure. Most excess potassium is eliminated in the urine; some is eliminated in the sweat. When we perspire a great deal, we should replace our fluids with orange juice or vegetable juice containing potassium. Alcohol, coffee (and other caffeine drinks), sugar, and diuretic drugs cause potassium losses and can contribute to lowering the blood potassium.
Sources: Potassium is found in a wide range of foods. Many fruits and vegetables are high in potassium and low in sodium and help prevent hypertension. Such leafy green vegetables as spinach, parsley, mustard greens, and lettuce, as well as broccoli, peas, lima beans, tomatoes, and potatoes, especially the skins, all have significant levels of potassium. Fruits that contain this mineral include oranges and other citrus fruits, bananas, apples, avocados, raisins, and apricots, particularly dried. Whole grains, wheat germ, seeds, and nuts are high-potassium foods.
Functions: Along with sodium, potassium regulates the water balance and the acid-base balance in the blood and tissues. Increasing potassium can help with lowering blood pressure. Potassium is important for normal growth and for building muscle.
Signs of Potassium Deficiency:
- Congestive heart failure
- Depression and other mood changes