Potassium is a mineral that helps the kidneys function
normally. It also plays a key role in cardiac, skeletal, and
smooth muscle contraction, making potassium an important
nutrient for normal heart, digestive, and muscular function.
A diet high in potassium from fruits, vegetables, and
legumes is generally recommended for optimum heart health.
The best dietary sources of potassium are fresh unprocessed
foods, including meats, fish, vegetables (especially
potatoes), fruits (especially avocados, dried apricots, and
bananas), citrus juices (such as orange juice), dairy
products, and whole grains. Most potassium needs can be met
by eating a varied diet with adequate intake of milk, meats,
cereals, vegetables, and fruits.
Proper balance of
potassium in the body depends on sodium. Therefore,
excessive use of sodium may deplete the body's stores of
potassium. Other conditions that can cause potassium
deficiency include diarrhoea, vomiting, excessive sweating,
malnutrition, and use of diuretics. In addition, coffee and
alcohol can increase the amount of potassium excreted in the
urine. Adequate amounts of magnesium are also needed to
maintain normal levels of potassium.