Potassium deficiency and you

Oct 6, 2015, 13:00 IST


Let’s start with a quiz! What can high-potassium foods do for you?
1. Help your muscles and nerves function properly
2. Maintain proper electrolyte and acid-base balance in your body
3. Help lower your risk of high blood pressure
Answer: All of the above

Yes, that's true! Potassium is a very important mineral that you must get enough of.

So what is potassium?
Potassium, sodium and chloride comprise the electrolyte family of minerals; called electrolytes because they conduct electricity when dissolved in water. Potassium is especially important in regulating the activity of muscles and nerves. The frequency and degree to which our muscles contract, and the degree to which our nerves become excitable, both depend heavily on the presence of potassium in the right amount in our body.

What is it needed for?
Well, we wouldn't get much done without potassium. Nerves need it to tell muscles what to do, and muscles need it to do what they're told - potassium is an important player here. Plus it helps keep our body's fluids in balance and regulates our blood pressure and is involved in the storage of carbohydrates for use by muscles as fuel too. It is also important in maintaining the body's proper electrolyte and acid-base (pH) balance and also promotes efficient cognitive functioning by helping to deliver oxygen to the brain.



Good to know
Potassium is water soluble, so it leaches into water during cooking. A boiled potato, for example, loses at least half its potassium to the water it's boiled in. To reduce this loss, try steaming, microwaving, sautéing or even frying vegetables instead of boiling them. Also it helps to not throw the cooking water and add it instead to soups, stews and casseroles to increase their potassium content.