A general goal for everyone should be having sufficient nutrients in the body. It shouldn’t be a great of a deal to achieve this goal. Following simple diets rich in vitamins and minerals, should be enough. However, taking under consideration genetics, and age can be a reason to become vitamin or mineral deficient.

One of the most important minerals that an elder or any individual should pay attention is the potassium. Potassium is a very important mineral that, when combine with sodium and calcium, will maintain normal heart rhythm, regulates the body’s water balance, and is responsible for the conduction of nerve impulse and the contraction of muscles. The body of an average person contains about 5 ounces of potassium.

Blood levels of the mineral are controlled by the kidneys, which eliminate any excess in the urine.

Potassium deficiency is rare because almost all foods contain potassium. The best sources of potassium include lean meat, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, beans, and many fruits (especially bananas and oranges). A diet that includes these foods is sufficient for obtaining adequate amounts of potassium.

Since potassium sources are so abundant, for most people potassium deficiency is not a concern. The elderly, however, are at a greater risk for potassium deficiency. The main reason the elderly should be concerned about sufficient deficiency is because their kidneys and other organs tend not to function as well. This results in the system not being able to absorb and regulate the amount of potassium in the body.

In addition, medications prescribed for the treatment of high blood pressure are less effective with elderly. High blood pressure can lead to serious health conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. So, the elderly who are prescribed blood pressure reducing medications with little success may want to discuss potassium supplementation with their doctor.

The main symptoms of potassium deficiency are irregular heart rate, gastrointestinal problems, muscle weakness and abnormal skin sensations, such as numbness. To detect potassium deficiency a doctor tests the patient’s blood levels for the presence of potassium. If less than 5.6 grams of potassium are present the individual is determined to have a potassium deficiency.

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