Potassium and health.

Potassium is one of the most important elements in the athlete’s diet (next to, for example, magnesium). Until recently, people used a diet rich in potassium. This has changed through highly processed products (devoid of potassium or whose amount has been significantly depleted). In addition, modern people eat less fruit and vegetables. As a consequence, there was a significant drop in potassium intake, which currently in most developed countries is about 70 mmol per day, which is only one third of the consumption that was previously. 

Insufficient supply of potassium leads to muscle weakness, sometimes to muscle breakdown, often causes constipation, dysfunction of the myocardium and impaired renal and nervous system function. 

Hypokalemia is too low amount of potassium in the blood. 80-92% of potassium is excreted through the kidneys and 8% through the digestive tract. The potassium balance in the body is very brittle, the intracellular concentration is 150 mEq / L, while the normal concentration in the plasma is about 4 mEq / L. Because the plasma concentration of potassium is so low, even the smallest change can have serious health consequences. \ NThe symptoms of hypokalemia 

Hypokalemia may occur in potassium deficiencies in diet, burns, diarrhea, vomiting, when using diuretics (other than those conserving potassium), after licorice overdose, overuse of glucose and insulin (intravenously), after injuries, surgical procedures, tubular acidosis, etc. that a large supply of cola-like beverages can also cause muscle weakness. 

Many studies indicate that increased potassium intake has a beneficial effect on human health. Epidemiological and clinical studies show that a diet rich in potassium lowers blood pressure, both for people with too high and average, the population’s average blood pressure. Cohort studies and clinical trials indicate that increasing potassium intake reduces mortality due to cardiovascular disease. This is mainly related to the hypotensive effect, and partly due to the direct action of potassium on the cardiovascular system. 

A high potassium diet may also prevent or at least slow down the development of kidney disease. Increased potassium intake reduces urinary calcium excretion and plays an important role in the treatment of hypercalciuria and kidney stones. It probably reduces the risk of osteoporosis. The administration of alkaline citrate salts (potassium citrate or potassium magnesium citrate) is recommended for the treatment of renal calculi with hypothraturia, although adherence to this treatment is limited by side effects (gastrointestinal disturbances) and costs. 

Low levels of serum potassium are strongly associated with glucose intolerance, and increased potassium intake may prevent the development of diabetes mellitus occurring during long-term treatment with thiazide diuretics. Decreased serum potassium increases the risk of lethal ventricular arrhythmias in patients with ischemic heart disease, heart failure and left ventricular hypertrophy, and increased potassium intake may prevent this. The best way to increase potassium intake is to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. 


You can read also: Magnesium – sources in the diet