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April 2011
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Potassium is important to the human nervous system, fluid balance, muscle function, kidney, heart and adrenal functions. Symptoms of potassium deficiency (hypokalemia) are fatigue, weakness, heart irregularities, confusion, and sometimes problems in muscular coordination.

You’ll get sufficient potassium in a reasonably healthy diet that is one that includes fresh fruits and vegetables and is low in sodium. Mineral imbalances can occur from starvation diets, but more commonly results from excessive fluid loss from sweating, diarrhea, or the use of diuretics and laxatives.

Athletes and people who exercise heavily have higher potassium needs because they sweat heavily. They need to take supplements to balance the electrolyte levels, or a diet with high potassium foods.

Some of the more common foods with HIGH potassium (more than 225 milligrams per 1/2 c. serving) are:

All meats, poultry and fish are high in potassium.
Apricots (fresh more so than canned)
Avocado
Banana
Cantaloupe
Honeydew
Kiwi
Lima beans
Milk
Oranges and orange juice
Potatoes (can be reduced to moderate by soaking peeled, sliced potatoes overnight before cooking)
Prunes
Spinach
Tomatoes
Vegetable juice
Winter squash

potassiumrichfood

These foods would be beneficial to athletes or to others who incur heavy fluid loss. Patients on potassium-restricted diets should avoid them, or eat them sparingly, as advised by their nutritionist.

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