What is Potassium?

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Potassium is a very essential nutrient that your body requires for good health. It is a trace mineral that your body needs in order to break down and make use of carbohydrates, to build muscles, maintain normal growth and to build proteins. Potassium also plays the very important role of controlling your heart’s electrical activity in addition to maintaining minimum acid level that your body requires for proper function.

Recommendations

Your body requires a set amount of potassium to function properly. Too little or too much potassium in your system leads to occurrence of various health problems. While too little potassium in your blood (hypokalemia) causes such health problems as general body fatigue, high blood pressure (hypertension), irritability and abnormal heart rhythm, too much of it in your blood (hyperkalemia) causes poor function of your kidneys, nausea, vomiting and cardiac arrest.

The amount of potassium that your body requires no doubt differs from the amount that a child or a teenager’s body requires. Recommended daily intake  for infants up to six months old is 0.4 grams per day. Infants between seven and twelve months require up to 0.7 grams per day. While children aged between one and three years need 3 grams per day, those aged between four and eight years need 3.8 grams per day. Teenagers aged between nine and eighteen years require 4.5 grams per day. Adults need 4.7 grams of potassium per day. However, lactating mothers need about 5.1 grams per day because of breastfeeding.

Although potassium supplements are readily available, eating specific food stuffs rich in this mineral should be enough to provide your body with the right amount of potassium you need. Obtaining potassium from food instead of supplements is highly recommended since doing so eliminates the risk of ingesting too much of the mineral. Below are some of the foods high in potassium:

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Eating just one baked sweet potato and in particular the skin provides your body with about 695 milligrams of potassium, which is 15% of the amount that your body requires every day. Apart from potassium, sweet potato is also very rich in vitamin A and beta carotene.

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Dates

Native to the Middle East, dates are very good sources of potassium. Eating half a cup of dates provides your body with about 590 milligrams of potassium.

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