What is it and where does it come from?
Potassium (K) is a mineral that performs many functions in the body. Dietary sources of fiber include: tomatoes, citrus fruit, beans, vegetables, milk, bananas and watermelon.
2. What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?
Potassium is utilized by the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls heart beat, brain functions, and other crucial physiological processes. Potassium has been shown to help maintain lower blood pressure1. Potassium plays a key role in the function of nerve firing [an involuntary physiologic response to stimuli], and the contraction of muscles.
Potassium may help reduce muscle soreness that results from training. Any deficiency in potassium levels may result in decreased strength, and the early onset of exercise induced fatigue. Potassium helps to regulate water balance and is also needed for the synthesis of dietary proteins.
For individuals using diuretics, supplemental potassium can help ensure adequate levels exist within the body for use in the above mentioned processes. Stable potassium levels are also associated with lower occurrences of type 2 diabetes. 8
3. Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?
Everyone. Signs of deficiency include a weak immune system, susceptibility to overtraining, and an increased need for supplemental glutamine.
Populations that may benefit most from the consumption of potassium include the overweight or obese and athletes.
4. How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?
If you are currently supplementing with potassium, or are considering supplementing with potassium, pay careful attention to how much fruit you are eating daily. Fruit contains a high amount of potassium and if you are supplementing with potassium, overdose is a possibility. Taking too much potassium can result in an upset stomach, flatulence, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and burping. An excessive amount of potassium can result in a heart attack.
Diabetics and persons with kidney failure should consult a qualified medical practitioner prior to the use of potassium supplements. Follow the directions as prescribed on the products label.
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