Diseases that occur when the minimum dose of potassium in the body is missing. Dr. Cezar: “A kind of vicious circle is being set up”

Potassium is an essential mineral for the body, with many fundamental roles. Among the most important benefits of potassium are muscle function, heart health, nerve function, fluid balance or bone health.

Bananas, fruits rich in potassium. PHOTO Archive

Potassium helps to maintain blood pressure within normal limits by counteracting the effects of sodium, according to specialists. An adequate level of potassium can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Potassium is also essential for normal muscle contraction, including that of the heart. Low potassium can lead to heart arrhythmias and other heart problems.

Most people are deficient, have deficiencies, even if it doesn't show up in blood tests. Blood tests are within normal parameters, but the deficiency exists. It is estimated that over 90% of people are potassium deficient“, according to Dr. Cezar Amititeloaie.

The symptoms and problems that arise due to potassium deficiency are many. For example, the brain, the central nervous system is affected, memory and concentration disorders occur, sleep disorders occur, or the peripheral nervous system is also affected. Reflexes are low, tingling, numbness appear, the cardiovascular system is also affected.

The heart can have a high pulse, so an increased frequency, or abnormal beats occur, the so-called extrasystoles. Also, blood pressure is high, it is increased, due to peripheral vascular resistance. What this means? It means that the smooth muscles of the blood vessels no longer relax enough and the blood vessels remain semi-contracted and blood pressure rises. Potassium is important for protein synthesis and if we are deficient, muscle fatigue occurs. When you walk up a few steps and feel exhausted, this can be a sign of potassium deficiency or muscle cramps from such exertion. It can also prevent water retention, edema, swelling of legs, hands“, adds Dr. Cezar.

The digestive system can also be affected by the fact that potassium is part of the hydrogen-potassium pump, which determines the secretion of gastric acid in the stomach, necessary for the proper digestion of proteins.

If we do not have enough potassium, we will not secrete enough stomach acid and protein digestion will not be done properly and this will cause protein deficiencies and deficits and the body's need to eat more and more. Potassium is involved in the introduction of nutrients into the cells, of glucose, and potassium deficiency causes an increase in the need for insulin, and this means an increase in insulin resistance. As insulin increases, insulin resistance increases, and if we have insulin resistance, that disrupts the entry of potassium into the cells. So a kind of vicious circle is set up. If potassium is low, insulin resistance is stimulated, and insulin resistance causes potassium to decrease at the cellular level.”says Dr. Cezar.

Why does potassium deficiency occur and how many grams do we need?

The doctor details the causes of potassium deficiency.

“Primarily it happens because of a diet low in potassium-rich foods. Ancestral humans were gatherers, hunters, and ate a lot of very diverse vegetables (3:01) rich in potassium. It is estimated that they had an intake of about 10-15 grams of potassium per day. Today the necessary is considered somewhere around 4-5 grams, but even so very few people end up consuming such an amount.

Stress is another factor, as aldosterone and cortisol cause the kidneys to flush out potassium. So it causes a very large loss of potassium. In stressful conditions, a lot of potassium is lost through the urine. Also, under stress, the ATP pumps, the pumps that bring potassium into the cell, are depleted. And that's because of the drop in energy levels. And if potassium does not enter the cells and remains on the outside, it is very easily eliminated through the urine. Excessive fluid intake without adequate salt intake is not good,” insisted the doctor.

Foods rich in potassium

Foods rich in potassium are the green ones, such as: avocado, spinach, beetroot and especially beetroot leaves, white beans; also fish meat, salmon or dairy products, yogurt (especially goat's).

Potatoes and bananas contain a very high amount of potassium, but are not recommended for people who want to lose weight and who have insulin resistance, because this will cause poor absorption of potassium.

The recommended daily intake of potassium for adults is 4,700 milligrams (mg). By eating these foods below, you can ensure you get your daily potassium requirement for good health:

fruit – bananas (422 mg per medium banana), oranges (237 mg per medium orange), cantaloupe (270 mg per 1 cup chopped), dried apricots (1,167 mg per ½ cup chopped), prunes (689 mg per ½ cup chopped)

Vegetables – potatoes (658 mg per medium potato), spinach (701 mg per 1 cup cooked), sweet potatoes (418 mg per medium potato), mushrooms (558 mg per 1 cup sliced), broccoli (494 mg per 1 cup chopped).

Legumes – lentils (701 mg per 1 cup cooked), red beans (610 mg per 1 cup cooked), black beans (611 mg per 1 cup cooked), chickpeas (540 mg per 1 cup cooked).

Nuts and seeds – almonds (375 mg per ¼ cup), pistachios (390 mg per ¼ cup), pumpkin seeds (524 mg per ¼ cup), sunflower seeds (325 mg per ¼ cup).

Dairy products – milk (349 mg per cup), yogurt (387 mg per cup).