January 25, 2016
Potassium: a mineral found abundantly in some foods and the earth as a white salt. It gets its name from potash or plant ash which is loaded with potassium.
Every cell in the body utilizes potassium in some way. It is necessary for signal transduction in all nerves and muscles including the heart. It is critical for kidney and hormone function. Your intestines require it to move and your blood requires it to keep acid/base balance. We use it in carbohydrate metabolism and much more.
Potassium like sodium has an electron by itself in an outer atomic ring that allows it to give away the electron easily forming a positive ion that is used by the body readily in reactions.
Sources of potassium in food include all meats including fish. Soy and other legumes as well as broccoli are loaded. Potatoes with skins, banana, kiwi, citrus fruit, prune/plum, avocado, apricot, dairy and all nuts round out the list.
Deficiencies in potassium are very dangerous and occur primarily with acute and chronic diseases like excessive vomiting or diarrhea, kidney impairment and adrenal gland dysfunction. The symptoms of deficiency include bowel movement dysfunction, high blood pressure, weakness, and cardiac rhythm disturbances.
Insufficiency is often associated with constipation, fatigue, muscle weakness and cramping.
Potassium overload is generally related to disease and medicine use. It is rare in children except in kidney or heart disease patients. Too much potassium presents with heart rhythm abnormalities and can lead to death.
Children taking kidney diuretics or heart medicines are at the greatest risk for low and high potassium levels.
Overall, a regular diet filled with vegetables, meat and fruit will supply adequate potassium for function. If your child has any of the above symptoms of insufficiency consider increasing the intake of apricots, nuts and meats in their diet.