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potassium

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While potassium is critical to health there are three conditions under which potassium intake must be limited. Don't follow the guidelines on this page if you fit any of these conditions. 

Kidney disease- When the kidney is damaged from hypertension or infection the kidney must be protected from excess minerals of all types including potassium. 

Hypertension- When potassium sparing diuretics are given potassium supplements or high levels of potassium in the diet must be avoided. 

Potassium is recommended as the first choice treatment for hypertension but this is only true for the early stages before medication is necessary. In later stages potassium in the diet can be used under the close supervision of a knowledgeable, nutritionally oriented physician. More information about potassium and hypertension can be found in The High Blood Pressure Solution by Richard D. Moore, M.D., Ph.D. and for general potassium information  Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Potassium by Betty Kamen, Ph.D.

Adrenal insufficiency- Addison's disease & associated adrenal exhaustion cause excretion of sodium & retention of potassium due to low levels of cortisol & sodium sparing aldosterone. In all of these conditions high intake of potassium in supplements or food can be life threatening.  

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Potassium is one of the most important elements in our diets. The primitive, or "natural", diet contains approximately 2 mg. of potassium for each calorie consumed.
 
Persons who consume 4,000 mg. of potassium or more per day have a much lower incidence of all degenerative diseases including:
  •  insulin resistance syndrome
  • hypertension
  • stroke
  • obesity 
  • adult onset diabetes

The modern food consumer is lucky to get .5 mg. of potassium for each calorie consumed. All of the dietary programs that lower cholesterol, normalize weight or improve blood pressure contain high amounts of potassium.

You may choose the sources of potassium that you like but make sure you get a minimum of 2 mg. per calorie & try to get even more.

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Nutritional All-Star: Potassium
Aside from transmitting nerve impulses and helping
muscles contract, this mineral maintains healthy blood pressure.

 

New research even shows that, when combined with a healthful diet, an ample supply of potassium may help some women ditch their blood pressure medication altogether (w/their doctor's permission, of course).

 

  • What women need: 3,000 mg daily for all ages
  • What women get: Most women meet their daily requirements
  • Women ages 20 to 59 average 2,447 mg per day
  • Women 60 & older average 2,474 mg per day

Add to your diet:

  • 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt (573 mg)
  • 1 banana (450 mg)
  • 1 cup milk (370 mg)
  • 3 ozs fish fillet 
  • 6 ozs orange juice (340 mg)
  • 1 cup raw spinach (312 mg)
  • 3 ozs turkey (255 mg)
  • 1 kiwi (252 mg)
  • 3 ozs skinless chicken (220 mg)
  • 1 tomato (135 mg)
  • cup mango (128 mg)
  • grapefruit (159 mg)
  • cup bell pepper (90 mg)

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don't boil or microwave foods as they lose too much of their nutritional values!
 
One potassium trick is to use tomato sauce, juice, paste or salsa. Tomatoes are very high in potassium. They can contribute significantly to your daily potassium intake. Tomato based sauce can help balance the lack of potassium in pasta.

All types of legumes are high potassium:

  • kidney
  • lentil
  • garbanzo
  • black or pinto being the highest

Using beans, in chili, soup or salad, increases the potassium, protein & complex carbohydrate content & beans add color, flavor & texture.

Good snacks are whole grains w/the bran & germ &/or fruits & vegetables. While this may sound very restrictive, the good news is:

  • the bowel normalizes
  • energy increases 
  • cravings disappear

Weight becomes normal whether you were under weight or over weight. This occurs without any sense of dieting.

Fresh foods, prepared from scratch are best. If you must use canned foods use low sodium or sodium free, water-packed. Frozen foods should be purchased w/no salt. 

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Formula for daily potassium goal:              

Your Ideal Body Weight in pounds  times 40 mg. =_________ mg. per day. 

Your Ideal Body Weight  in kilos times 88 mg. =__________ mg. per day. 

Example: 130 lbs. equals 5,200 mg. a day.  

Example: 70 kilos equals 6,160 mg. a day.  

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potassium - you are here!

What is meant by a good food source?

A good food source of potassium contains a substantial amount of potassium in relation to its calorie content & contributes at least 200 milligrams of potassium in a selected serving size.

The Food & Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences has estimated the minimum requirements for potassium for men & women over 18 years of age to be 2,000 milligrams per day.

As you can see, in 1985 & 1986, 1/3 of the potassium in the diets of women came from fruits & vegetables. Within this food group, white potatoes provided about 1/3 of the potassium.

Meat, poultry & fish supplied 20% of the potassium. Foods that contain small amounts of potassium but are not considered good sources can contribute significant amounts of potassium to an individual's diet if these foods are eaten often or in large amounts.

Why do we need potassium?

Potassium, a mineral, assists in muscle contraction & in maintaining fluid & electrolyte balance in body cells. Potassium is also important in sending nerve impulses as well as releasing energy from protein, fat & carbohydrates during metabolism.

Do we get enough potassium?

According to recent USDA surveys, the average intake of potassium by women & ,en 19 to 50 years of age was above the minimum requirements estimated by the Food & Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences.

How can we get enough potassium?

Eating a variety of foods that contain potassium is the best way to get an adequate amount. Healthy individuals who eat a balanced diet rarely need supplements. The list of foods can help you select those that are good sources of potassium as you follow the Dietary Guidelines. The list of good sources was derived from the same nutritive value of foods tables used to analyze information for recent food consumption surveys of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Human Nutrition Information Service.

HOW TO PREPARE FOODS TO RETAIN POTASSIUM

Potassium is lost in cooking some foods even under the best conditions. To retain potassium: .Cook foods in a minimal amount of water. .Cook for the shortest possible time.

WHAT IS A SERVING?

The serving sizes used on the list of good sources are only estimates of the amounts of food you might eat. The amount of nutrient in a serving depends on the weight of the serving. For example, 1/2 cup of a cooked vegetable contains more nutrients than 1/2 cup of the same vegetable served raw, because a serving of the cooked vegetable weighs more. Therefore, the cooked vegetable may appear on the list while the raw form does not. The raw vegetable provides the nutrient - but just not enough in a 1/2-cup serving to be considered a good source.

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