Everyone is familiar with the fact that the mineral potassium is important for keeping the blood pressure within the range that is regarded as normal and healthy. Did you know that it’s also something that helps regulate the levels of electrolytes in the body and muscular contraction? And are you aware that potassium also encourages the proper beating of your heart, as well as the optimum functioning of your nerves, digestive system and kidneys?
Because of the many important functions that it plays, it is a good idea for your body to be supplied by good amounts of it, which is set by doctors to about 4,700 milligrams each day.
While obtaining too little potassium can have many unfavorable consequences, getting more of the mineral than needed can actually be a bad thing, too. There is a medical term for high levels of potassium in the body: hyperkalemia. Doctors say that this condition can cause lots of health problems, and many of them can be very serious.
There are a couple of ways through which you may end up with hyperkalemia:
Improper kidney functioning
Excess potassium in your body is flushed out via the excretory system, which means that peeing helps get rid of unwanted amounts of potassium. So if your kidneys are not functioning very well, your potassium levels can get elevated.
Overdosing on dietary supplements
Whether combined with other vitamins and minerals or on its own, popping pills with potassium in your mouth more than recommended can cause the levels of potassium in your body to get to really dangerous levels.
So can you end up with hyperkalemia when you consume plenty of potassium-containing foods? Well, it’s possible, say scientists.
When it comes to food sources of potassium, banana is always on the top of the list because it is very rich in the said mineral. To wind up with high levels of potassium in the body, experts say that you would have to eat over 200 bananas just to end up with fatal levels of potassium. Also, your kidneys would have to be in a terrible shape for you to be able to overdose on potassium by means of your diet.
So how would you know if you are simply getting more potassium than needed? Here are some telltale signs:
Potassium is essential for the proper functioning of the nerves. However, too much of this mineral can cause them to malfunction, which results in your having tingling sensation most especially in your extremities. Sometimes you may feel numbness in various parts of the body.
Muscle weakness or paralysis
Because potassium is an electrolyte, excessive amounts of it can keep your muscles from properly contracting. In fact, your muscles may become weak or sometimes paralyzed. What makes such outcome very dangerous is the fact that your respiratory system can be affected.
The diaphragm is the muscle that allows the lungs to expand and relax, thus causing air to rush in and out of them. When too much potassium in your body affects the diaphragm, you may experience breathing difficulty or, in worse cases, you may fail to breathe at all!
Abnormal heart rhythms
Does it feel like your heart is beating irregularly? One of the usual causes of such is excessive amounts of potassium in the body. If left uncontrolled, you may have cardiac arrest! Rush to the emergency room if your irregular heart rate is accompanied by dizziness and shortness of breath.
There are many food sources of potassium out there, so there is really no need for you to take potassium supplement if you have healthy eating habits. Do supplement with potassium only upon the instruction of your doctor.