Do I Need More Potassium?May 21, 2010
First the bad news. If your body were completely deprived of potassium, you would probably be dead within a couple months at most. Since there is no stockpiling of potassium by your body, and you are constantly losing it through urine, sweat and elsewhere, you must make sure that you feed fresh potassium to yourself regularly.
The good news is… getting potassium is easy, and something you already do every day – if perhaps not quite as much as you should. If you follow a diet that is well balanced and with an intake of fresh potassium rich foods, you won’t have to worry too much about an imbalance of any minerals in your system. Fresh fruits, whole grains, fresh vegetables and dairy products are all rich in potassium. Poultry, fish and meats all provide plenty of potassium as well, though none of them should be consumed in excess. Ironically, the build up of acid levels and other results of too much meat eating can actually cause you to lose potassium. In moderation, however, meats can be enormously healthy.
Are Potassium Supplements Good For You?
There are many potassium supplement products available in the market and many consumers take advantage of these products. However, this is is unnecessary if you have regular intake of potassium rich foods included in your daily diet. If you prefer potassium supplements just to be sure, do make sure that you consult your doctor – too much potassium can cause health problems in people with kidney and other health issues, as well as those with vitamin B-1 deficiencies. In the meantime, it would be safer and much better if you simply have an extra banana, a slice of cantaloupe or another potassium rich food included in your daily diet.
How Much Potassium Do You Need?
There is no official minimum daily requirement, since potassium is so abundant. However, since your urine excretes over 2000mg of potassium each day, this would seem to be the absolute least you would want. However, since hot days, physical exertion and stress will cause you to lose greater amounts of potassium, you should take in 3000 to 4000mg of potassium daily. If you are sweating a lot, you might aim for the higher number here. Again this should be achieved through foods that are high in potassium rather than supplements.
Even with foods, if you are suffering from certain medical conditions, especially any kidney condition, you may have to actually power your potassium intake. Consult with your doctor in this case.
Conversely, there are cases in which potassium is highly essential. For instance, athletes need a regular intake of potassium, as an athlete’s lifestyle is normally very active. For those with similar lifestyles, it is important to make sure that energy bars and electrolyte drinks are handy. These help your body refuel the potassium you are losing as a result of heavy sweating. Also, never ever engage in a “crash diet.” This can be life threatening, and drains potassium from your body. On top of that, even if the diet doesn’t kill you, they usually don’t work. You will likely regain whatever you lost in rather short order.
So far as symptoms of low potassium, they are just about everything from stress, heart trouble and arthritis to depression. Perhaps the reason for this is that potassium rich foods are generally very healthy foods in all regards. If you are eating a potassium rich diet, you are likely getting most of the other nutrients you need as well.
And that makes life simple, doesn’t it?