Metabolic And Neuromuscular Functioning Require A Proper Balance Of Potassium . . . Also An Essential Nutrient For Weight Control!

Western-style diets are rich in processed foods, loaded with sodium and relatively poor in potassium. Consequently, many people now consume diets deficient in potassium and high in acid-generating foods like meats and other animal proteins that further deplete the body's supply of this vital mineral, according to a report released this year by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine.

The average man in the United States consumes only about two-thirds of the recommended amount of potassium each day, and the average women consumes even less typically, half of the amount considered to be an adults adequate daily intake. The consequences of a chronic potassium deficiency are high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, kidney stones and a loss of bone minerals that can lead to osteoporosis.

A Crucial Nutrient . . .

Normal healthy kidneys are not effective at conserving potassium and are thus unable to prevent a deficiency when dietary levels of it are low. Potassium and sodium, along with chloride, are called electrolytes. They regulate the electrical activity of cell membranes and, thus, the conduction of nerve impulses.

All three have to be in proper balance to assure normal metabolic and neuromuscular functioning. And the imbalance of high sodium and chloride in relation to potassium is believed to be a major factor in several serious chronic ailments.

Low potassium consumption can also cause an increased sensitivity to salt, further raising the risk of hypertension. Even minor deficiencies in potassium levels can harm nerve transmission, muscle contraction and blood-vessel functions. Most people have little or no warning of potassium deficiencies. They may feel tired, weak and irritable, but unable to pinpoint the cause.

Nutritional studies have demonstrated an association between higher consumption of potassium-rich fruit and increased bone mineral density. Also, the more protein in relation to potassium a person consumes, the greater the risk of bone loss in the hips and spine in their senior years.

A recent study of adults on a low-carbohydrate, high protein diet, showed calcium loss in urine increased by 50 percent and was not compensated for by an increase in intestinal absorption of dietary calcium. The researchers concluded that the diet without adequate potassium overloaded the kidneys with acid, it not only increased the risk of formation of kidney stones, it ultimately led to a loss of calcium and potentially-increase bone loss.

People taking certain prescriptions diuretics to lower blood pressure or to reduce fluid retention may also suffer a potassium deficiency, because those drugs increase urinary loss of both sodium and potassium.

Also at risk of potassium deficiency are people who sweat excessively as a result of extreme heat or intense physical exercise. The increased need of for potassium is best met through increased consumption of potassium-rich fruits, vegetables and juices.

Improving Intake . . .

To achieve a healthy balance of potassium and sodium, people should eat ample amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. Among the foods richest in potassium are leafy greens like spinach, romaine and cabbage; vine-grown foods like tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, winter squash and pumpkin root vegetables like carrots, radishes, turnips and onions; dried peas and beans, and green beans; fruits like apples, oranges, bananas, apricots and strawberries; and tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes, as well as milk and yogurt. Lesser amounts are found in meats, nuts, eggs, cereals and cheese.

If a person consumed 100 calories each of spinach, tomatoes, carrots, chickpeas, oranges and potatoes, you would easily take in a days recommended amount of potassium and only 600 calories. A potassium-rich diet is also great for weight control.

Author's Bio: 

Roger Jirves is an authorized dealer of the Vitamin Power line natural vitamins, minerals, and nutritional supplements!

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