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body needs potassium to help your muscles contract, maintain fluid balance, and maintain a normal blood pressure. Normal potassium levels in the body help to keep the heart beating regularly. Potassium may help reduce your risk of kidney stones and also bone loss as you age.
Healthy kidneys keep the right amount of
potassium in the blood to keep the heart beating at a steady pace. If you have
kidney disease, potassium levels can rise and affect your heartbeat. Be sure to
talk with your health professional to determine if you should restrict your
intake of foods that contain large amounts of potassium.
Most people do not get enough potassium.
Women who are pregnant need the same amount of potassium as other women their age.
Potassium is in many foods, including vegetables, fruits, and milk products. You can figure out how much potassium is in a food by looking at the percent daily value section on the nutrition facts label. The food label assumes the daily value of potassium is 3,500 mg. So if one serving of a food has a daily value of 20% of potassium, that food has 700 mg of potassium in one serving. Potassium is not required to be listed on a food label, but it can be listed.
Tips for adding potassium foods to your healthy diet:
A potassium level that is too high or too low can be serious. Abnormal potassium levels may cause symptoms such as muscle cramps or weakness, nausea, diarrhea, frequent urination, dehydration, low blood pressure, confusion, irritability, paralysis, and changes in heart rhythm.
Potassium supplements are prescribed by a doctor, usually after testing for potassium in the blood or potassium in urine. Do not start taking potassium supplements on your own.
People who have kidney disease and/or take blood pressure medicines such as ACE inhibitors should find out from a doctor if they should avoid foods high in potassium.
Low-potassium foods include:
CitationsFood and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine (2011). Dietary reference intakes (DRIs): Recommended dietary allowances and adequate intakes, elements. Available online: http://iom.edu/Activities/Nutrition/SummaryDRIs/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRIs/New%20Material/2_%20RDA%20and%20AI%20Values_Vitamin%20and%20Elements.pdf.U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (2010). Nutrient data laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23. Available online: http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl.
Other Works ConsultedFood and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine (2011). Dietary reference intakes (DRIs): Recommended dietary allowances and adequate intakes, elements. Available online: http://iom.edu/Activities/Nutrition/SummaryDRIs/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRIs/New%20Material/2_%20RDA%20and%20AI%20Values_Vitamin%20and%20Elements.pdf.
September 15, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Mitchell H. Rosner, MD - Nephrology
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