What does potassium do in your body?
- Aids proper nerve functioning
- Helps muscle contraction and relaxation
- Helps maintain a regular heartbeat
- Helps regulate blood pressure
- Helps the cells communicate with each other through electrical signals
- Helps move nutrients inside the cells and waste products out of cells
- Green leafy vegetables including spinach, mustard greens, and collard greens
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Fruits such as grapes, oranges, apricots, grapefruits, and cantaloupe
- Dried fruits such as prunes, dates, and resins
- Certain fish such as tuna, halibut, and cod
The recommended daily intake of potassium for people in various age groups is given below:
|Birth to 6 months||400 mg||400 mg|
|7-12 months||860 mg||860 mg|
|1-3 years||2,000 mg||2,000 mg|
|4-8 years||2,300 mg||
|14-18 years||3,000 mg||2,300 mg||2,600 mg||2,500 mg|
|19-50 years||3,400 mg||2,600 mg||2,900 mg||2,800 mg|
|51+ years||3.400 mg||2,600 mg|
The recommended intake may be lower in situations that may cause an increased potassium level in the body such as kidney diseases and certain medications that interfere with potassium removal from the body.
What drinks are high in potassium?
Some of the potassium-rich drinks are as follows:
|Name of the drink||Serving size||Amount of potassium per serving (in mg)|
|Orange juice||1 cup||496|
|Tomato juice||1 cup||556.5|
|Prune juice||1 cup||707|
|Apricot juice||1 cup||286.1|
|Grapefruit juice||1 cup||400.1|
|Carrot juice||1 cup||689|
Besides these, other drinks such as sports drinks, herbal supplements, chocolate milk, vegetable cocktail juice, and spinach juice also provide a lot of potassium. Alcoholic drinks can also increase your blood potassium levels by causing cell damage and hampering kidney function.
What are the signs of low potassium levels in your body?
A mild decrease in potassium may cause no noticeable symptoms. Some of the symptoms of hypokalemia are as follows:
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle twitching
- Aches and stiffness
- Mood changes
- Breathing difficulties
- Numbness or tingling
Potassium levels less than 2.5 mml/L can cause life-threatening complications and require urgent medical intervention. Very low potassium levels can even cause lightheadedness and fainting. If you are on medications such as water pills (diuretics) or antibiotics; or if you experience profuse sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting; or if you have health conditions such as kidney diseases or eating disorders, you may be at risk of low potassium levels in your body.
What are the signs of high potassium levels in your body?
Excess of potassium in the blood is called hyperkalemia. In a healthy individual, the kidneys maintain potassium levels by removing extra potassium from the body through the urine. In some conditions, however, this regulation may fail or become insufficient. These include kidney diseases, certain medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and blood pressure medications. If people with advanced kidney disease consume a high-potassium diet or potassium-rich salt substitutes (also called the lite salts), they can develop hyperkalemia. The symptoms of hyperkalemia include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chest pain
- Palpitations/irregular heartbeat
The symptoms of hyperkalemia require urgent medical attention because they can cause serious complications when ignored.
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