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potassium supplementPotassium Fast Facts

Foods: bananas, strawberries, oranges, apricots, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes

Nutritional & health benefits: metabolism, muscle function

Its natural talent for conducting electricity through the muscles make potassium the nutrient most monitored by athletes, joggers & marathon runners.

Potassium, which is known as K on the periodic table, is a mineral that is essential for maintaining good overall health. The levels of potassium in the body are tightly regulated by the kidneys because potassium, in conjunction with sodium and calcium, is responsible for regulating a number of things in the body including pH balance, water balance, heart rhythm, and blood pressure.

In more primitive times, our consumption levels of sodium were actually much lower, which is important because sodium and potassium should ideally be consumed in relative proportion to each other. Many scientists believe that our drastically increased sodium consumption has thrown off the proper potassium to sodium ratio in our bodies, which is at least partially responsible for a number of different illnesses.

oranges & bananas are excellent sources of potassium
Bananas and oranges, along with strawberries, apricots, and tomatoes,
are excellent sources of potassium in the daily diet.

It has been found that the risk of developing kidney stones, osteoporosis, and strokes are all reduced when potassium intake is increased to better compensate for the increased sodium intake in modern diets.

It is also likely that the same health benefits could be replicated or even improved upon by reducing the amount of sodium consumed, which would also bring the ratio of potassium to sodium closer to what it should be.

There is also evidence to suggest that increasing potassium intake provides c ardiovascular health benefits. An analysis of the large number of studies conducted on the link between potassium and high blood pressure found that increased potassium consumption causes a small but significant improvement in blood pressure. It's important to note that the improvement was more pronounced in those who had high blood pressure to begin with.

The daily recommended intake of potassium is 4 grams, however the average American gets only half of that. For this reason, most people could do with extra potassium in their diets. Good sources of potassium include broccoli, tomatoes, garlic, bananas, apricots, avocados, and oranges.

Below normal levels, or hypokalemia, can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness and cramping, and is most commonly suffered by those with kidney disease.

More information about potassium around the Web:

Learn more about potassium's other benefits in maintaining good health with information on food sources, supplements, and research studies reported around the Web...

Potassium, Linus Pauling Institute's Micronutrient Information Center
- Comprehensive information on its effects including conditions that increase the risk of hypokalemia, research suggesting its benefits in treating stroke, osteoporosis and other conditions, adequate intake levels, food sources and supplements, drug interactions.

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia - Potassium in diet - Its associations with metabolism and body functions, good food sources, side effects and recommended daily allowances.

Potassium and the Diet - Quick facts, plus more on its role on maintaining good health, why athletes and those on diuretics need to monitor levels, recommended daily requirements, and a table of foods indicating very-good-to-poor potassium levels by serving size.

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