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Potassium Helps Kidneys To Function
- Potassium is essential to help the kidneys function. It’s found in blood serum and red blood cells
- Magnesium assists in maintaining the potassium in cells. Losing excess weight and a program of exercise can improve the cardiovascular system as a solution to developing a healthier diet. Avoiding fast food is a good idea
- Potassium can be found in foods like: spinach, broccoli, bananas, avocados, apricots and fish
Potassium is an essential mineral. Its main function in the body is to help the kidneys function. It also plays an important role in the skeletal system, the cardiac system and smooth muscle contraction. It is therefore a crucial mineral for normal digestive, muscular and heart function.
In general, therefore, potassium is a very important mineral in the human body. It is critical to both electrical and cellular function. Potassium is an electrolyte (the others are chloride and sodium). It therefore has the ability to carry a small electric charge. The primary positive ion found within the cells is potassium. Potassium is also found in blood serum, and red blood cells. Red blood cell level is a good indication of the potassium level of an individual.
Magnesium assists in maintaining the potassium in cells; however, the balance between potassium and sodium is finely tuned. Studies have shown that a diet that is high in sodium and that is low in potassium intake can increase blood pressure and influence vascular volume. A possible solution is to alter the diet to include natural foods which are rich in potassium and avoid foods that are high in salt. Losing excess weight and a program of exercise is also likely to improve the cardiovascular system and physical stamina.
A diet which is rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains will be naturally low in sodium and rich in potassium. This will help in maintaining a healthy blood pressure and may also lower a level of blood pressure that is elevated. The human body naturally holds more potassium than sodium, however, the modern diet of packaged convenience foods and fast food can be very high in salt. The body’s biochemical mechanisms are designed to cope with a natural diet, as opposed to a processed diet, and that means that the body tends to conserve sodium, while potassium conservation within the body is somewhat less.
Once in the small intestine, potassium is absorbed efficiently. However, potassium is one of the most soluble minerals, and may be easily lost during the cooking process e.g. boiling vegetables. Excess, unneeded potassium is excreted in urine and potassium is also lost in sweat. When an individual sweats excessively, for example during exercise, he or she should replace lost fluids with liquid that is rich in potassium, such as vegetable or orange juice.
The kidneys have an important role to play in regulating bodily potassium, by maintaining blood levels even when there are variations in intake. When there is an excess of potassium, aldosterone, an adrenal hormone, stimulates the elimination of potassium by the kidneys. Coffee and other drinks containing caffeine, alcohol, sugar and diuretic drugs all cause potassium depletion and can cause a decrease in levels of potassium in the blood. Potassium might also be lost through diarrhea and vomiting.
Potassium can be found in a wide variety of foodstuffs. Most fruits and vegetables are low in sodium and rich in potassium, and as mentioned above, can help to prevent hypertension. However, potassium content is lost when foods are canned or processed, although less potassium is lost during freezing.
Parsley, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, lima beans, peas, potatoes (particularly with the skin left on) and tomatoes, all have high levels of potassium. Citrus fruits such as oranges, apples, bananas, avocados, apricots (especially dried apricots) and raisins are also rich in potassium, as are wheat germ, whole grains nuts and seeds. Fish such as salmon, flounder, cod and sardines are rich in potassium as are many meats.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Minerals21 Nov 2008|