Potassium is important for nerve function, muscle control and blood pressure. Potassium and sodium work together to maintain the body's water balance. High blood pressure is typically associated with too much sodium in the diet, but a deficiency in potassium can also be a factor, since potassium helps the body eliminate excess sodium.
Although many foods contain abundant potassium, this nutrient is lost during cooking. Most processed foods lose potassium as well, so deficiencies are not uncommon. Hyperthyroidism, excessive diarrhea or vomiting can cause or worsen a potassium deficiency. Possible early symptoms of a deficiency are dry skin, muscle weakness, fatigue, and slow reflexes. Serious deficiencies can lead to heart conditions or hypokalemic paralysis, in which the entire body goes stiff.
It is difficult to reach toxic levels of potassium through diet or supplements, but those suffering from kidney disease may not be able to eliminate excess potassium. Toxicity symptoms may include irregular heartbeat or heart attack. Eating higher than normal amounts of potassium may produce dark circles under the eyes, which can be alleviated by eating natural sodium.
|US Recommended Daily Allowance:||3570 mg|
Health Benefits of Potassium
|Blood Pressure||Helps prevent and lower high blood pressure.|
|Eyes/Vision||Can relieve puffiness under the eyes caused by too much sodium. Too much potassium can cause dark under-eye circles.|
|Heart||Prevents arteriosclerosis. Strengthens and maintains the heart muscle.|
|Kidneys||Low levels of potassium can increase the risk of kidney stones.|
|Mood||Soothes feelings of anxiety, irritability and stress.|
|Muscles||Required for building and maintaining muscle strength. Weak or cramping muscles can indicate a deficiency.|
|Nerves||Maintains nerve health and nerve impulse function.|
Food Sources of Potassium
|Sweet Potatoes||950 mg||27%|
|Beet Leaves||762 mg||21%|
|Jerusalem Artichokes||643 mg||18%|
|Dandelion Greens||397 mg||11%|
|Burdock Root||363 mg||10%|
|Mustard Greens||354 mg||10%|
|Brussels Sprouts||342 mg||10%|