why do we need potassium in our body

If you want a healthy body that supports your lifestyle, you can't afford to short-change yourself on potassium. Like many other essential nutrients, it helps build proteins and metabolize carbohydrates. As an electrolyte, potassium stimulates nerves and muscles throughout your body. It even helps your bones retain calcium. However, some of its most vital functions affect your cardiovascular system. Potassium belongs to a group of minerals called electrolytes, which have the ability to carry electrical impulses. In addition to transmitting impulses that stimulate muscles and nerves, potassium works with other electrolytes to maintain the proper amount of fluids in your body. When you consume acidic foods or drinks, it helps ensure that your bodyБs level of acidity stays in a healthy range.


Potassium regulates your heartbeat by controlling the rate at which heart muscles contract. When levels of potassium get too low or high, your heartbeat becomes irregular -- and your heart can even stop beating. Your potassium levels may be lower than they should be if you are like most Americans and consume only half the potassium you need daily, according to the USDA. High levels of potassium typically result from kidney disease or other medical conditions such as severe burns or bleeding, tumors, injuries and infections. Sodium and potassium both affect blood pressure, but they have opposite roles. Sodium raises your blood pressure, while potassium lowers it. An article published In the September 2012 issue of БThe American Journal of Clinical NutritionБ reports that 99. 4 percent of all Americans consume more sodium than the American Heart Association's recommended daily intake of 1,500 milligrams.


This is in sharp contrast to getting just half of the recommended potassium. Consuming a diet high in sodium and low in potassium doubles your risk of dying from a heart attack, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The nutrients associated with building strong bones are calcium and vitamin D, but potassium also affects the amount of calcium in your bones. If your levels of potassium are low, your body produces less new bone, while also losing more calcium and minerals from existing bones.


In addition to weakening bones, this loss of calcium increases the risk of developing kidney stones. To meet your recommended daily intake of 4,700 milligrams of potassium, you'll need to include sources of potassium at every meal. Two of the best sources are potatoes: One baked potato supplies 610 milligrams of potassium and one sweet potato has 694 milligrams. One cup of yogurt has about 579 milligrams of potassium, while one banana contains 422 milligrams. YouБll get about 350 to 380 milligrams from 0. 5 cup of beans, 1 cup of fat-free milk and a 3-ounce serving of chicken and fish. Other good choices that supply 300 to 400 milligrams per serving include winter squash, spinach, celery, apricots, cantaloupe and orange juice.
Your body easily excretes excess potassium in your urine.


Because of this, the National Academies do not publish recommendations for your maximum daily potassium intake. If you have damaged or impaired kidneys, however, you should not have more than 4. 7 grams of potassium per day to avoid developing an irregular heartbeat. You should also be careful not to have too little potassium. A moderate potassium deficiency can increase your blood pressure, lead to salt sensitivity, increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and reduce the health of your bones. In addition to heart arrhythmias, excessively low potassium levels -- a condition called hypokalemia -- can cause glucose intolerance, weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps and stomach problems.

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