7/18/2012 12:00:00 AM

Tip #12 - Micronutrient Series #3 - Potassium

One of the leading causes of death in Eating Disordered Individuals is cardiac arrest. Now, this happens for a number of reasons... one being that the heart muscle, just like most organs, atrophies as a result of starvation... BUT, another reason is because of low potassium levels...

Things that cause low potassium are of course restriction, but also excessive fluid loss from laxative abuse, purging, and over exercising. Low potassium in blood is often one of the things health professionals use to diagnose an eating disorder... it's a pretty big deal, and a very common problem...

Even for people who are not eating disordered but are following a restrictive diet, potassium is something worth keeping tabs on. Here are some of the facts.

RDI: 4700mg (Source: About halfway down

Benefits from getting enough: Regular heart beat, lower blood pressure and lessen the adverse effects of salt on blood pressure, may reduce the risk of developing kidney stones, and possibly decrease bone loss.

Low potassiumrisk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cancer, digestive disorders, and infertility. For people with low potassium, doctors sometimes recommend improved diets -- or potassium supplements -- to prevent or treat some of these conditions. (Source)

Exceptions: People with kidney problems may need to follow a reduced potassium diet as the kidneys are crucial in keeping your blood levels stable, and like anything... too much is a bad thing. (Source

Signs you have low potassium: (Source) 

  • Weakness, tiredness, or cramping in arm or leg muscles, sometimes severe enough to cause inability to move arms or legs due to weakness (much like a paralysis)
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Abdominal cramping, bloating
  • Passing large amounts of urine or feeling very thirsty most of the time
(The cramps SUCK... I've had them ;( )

So... what can you do? Well, you can take Potassium Chloride supplements. I do, especially on fasting days. I still don't get enough... usually between 1200~1500mg on fast days.. but it's better than nothing. generally I take 300mg at a time, and try to spread it out at least 2 hrs apart. 

Of course the better solution is to eat properly :p Here are some foods that have at least 250mg of potassium in them per serving. 

My personal favorites are:

Coconut water: 46c, 600mg potassium per cup. (Only bad thing is all calories are from carbs :( )
Maccha (Green Tea Powder): 15c, 130mg potassium per tsp.
Cocoa Powder: 12c, 80mg potassium per tbsp.

All of these have other benefits attached to them as well. It's all about getting the most bang outta the caloric buck :3


Post a Comment