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Potassium

Are you getting enough of this important nutrient?

* A diet that contains sufficient amounts may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
* A decrease in muscular strength is often due to a lack of this mineral in the diet.
* Sufficient potassium in your diet helps soothe feelings of anxiety, irritability and stress.

Sources: United States Food and Drug Administration, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Imagine being so fatigued you barely can get through the day. Your reflexes are slow, and your muscles are weak and often cramping. The depression that's had you in its grip doesn't seem to be lifting, and you frequently feel nauseated. What could be wrong with you?

While it's best to see your physician to rule out serious illness when such warning signs occur, it's good to know that the above symptoms simply may be an indication that your body is deficient in the mineral potassium.

It is the third most abundant mineral in the body and is essential for your good health. Although the apple most often gets the credit for "keeping the doctor away," foods rich in this mineral are responsible for a number of health benefits.

Sufficient amounts in the diet helps keep your muscles strong (including that hard-working muscle, your heart) and helps control blood pressure and the water balance in your cells.

It also helps keep nerve impulses firing in top form, and releases energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates during metabolism.

Sufficient amounts in the diet helps protect you against heart disease, hypoglycemia, diabetes, obesity and kidney disease. It helps keep muscles strong, bowels regular and works to eliminate irritability, confusion and stress. And it may help to lower high blood pressure, as well as protecting against the blood pressure-boosting properties of sodium.

So how do you ensure your level is adequate? A variety of foods (fruits, vegetables, milk, meat, nuts, poultry) contain this mineral. Bananas are popularly known as a good source -- they contain 400 mg each -- but other food sources are even richer such as:

* Lima beans (1 cup) 1000 mg
* Cantaloupe (half a 5-inch melon) 975 mg
* Fresh orange juice (1 cup) 975 mg
* Potato (medium-sized) 900 mg
* Almonds (4 oz) 786 mg
* Whole milk (1 cup) 675 mg
* Salmon (4 oz) 470 mg
* Chicken (4 oz) 410 mg

The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences suggests the daily requirement for men and women is 2000-3500 mg. But although it may seem as if you can get your daily requirement almost without thinking about it -- a healthy and balanced diet usually provides between 2000 and 6000 mg of each day -- many of us don't get the amount we need. For example, unless you eat only raw, fresh foods, you probably aren't getting adequate amounts. This mineral is lost when food is cooked.

Additionally, there is a chemical relationship between potassium and sodium -- if your sodium intake is high, your potassium will be low. Given the average salt intake in most American diets, it's difficult to keep that balance with food sources alone, which is why it's important to take a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement.

What else shifts that potassium balance? Processed food is one culprit. Not only is processed food generally high in sodium, the processing procedure itself can remove potassium.

And if you regularly drink coffee, cola or alcoholic beverages, you may be creating a deficiency, as the caffeine in coffee and colas lowers your level, as does alcohol. Additionally, potassium is easily lost in urine, and certain conditions (such as severe diarrhea or poor diabetic control) deplete your body's stores.

While most of us will benefit from a nutritional supplement containing potassium, it is especially important for those who are at higher risk for deficiency. These include those who:

* Engage in rigorous body-building
* Take diuretics
* Take cortisone medications
* Have chronic liver disease
* Have kidney damage
* Suffer from physical and/or mental stress

Although the potassium in most multi-vitamins generally is regarded as safe for everyone, potassium supplementation alone should be monitored by your physician, as extremely excessive intake can be toxic.

http://www.busywomensfitness.com/potassi
um.html


~Missy~

There is nothing we can do to make God love us more; there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. -- Philip Yancey


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