Potassium is a mineral found in many foods that aids your body in balancing fluids. It works in conjunction with sodium. Potassium is also responsible for proper muscle contraction and the muscles' resting phase after physical exertion. Levels of this mineral should be kept steady and not drop too low or go too high. Extreme highs or lows of potassium levels can be fatal. Watching your diet carefully is important. Most of our potassium intake comes from our diet and is found in fruits and vegetables. Additives and foods can block our body's absorption of potassium.
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Potassium works with the sodium in your body to keep water retention to a minimum and to keep your body well hydrated. According to the George Mateljan Foundation, most potassium in your body is stored inside your cells while most of the sodium in your body is stored in the fluid that surrounds your cells. Too much sodium can block potassium absorption and raise fluid levels, causing swelling of the body. Salt is the main form of sodium taken in on a daily basis by many people. Canned processed vegetables and fruits also contain high amounts of sodium and should be kept at a minimum or avoided all together. Snack foods, such as chips and cookies, contain loads of sodium and should only be consumed in moderation. Get into the habit of reading labels when grocery shopping to help you determine if the convenience of canned processed foods are worth the risk.
Caffeine can be found in teas, colas, coffee and candy. Consuming these items in large quantities can cause your potassium levels to drop. Caffeine inhibits absorption of potassium by "clogging" the kidneys and liver. Your liver is responsible for releasing potassium into your bloodstream after it has filtered it. Your liver can be seen as a large filter that strains bad bacteria from the good minerals that your body needs. Bad bacteria goes to waste; good minerals get distributed equally. If you take in large amounts of caffeine, you are clogging the filter. The good minerals cannot get through, causing deficiencies.
Drinking alcohol in excess thins your blood and causes dilution of the potassium in your bloodstream. Alcohol also dehydrates the body and blocks absorption of potassium. Again, you must consider the liver because alcohol has direct effects on this organ. Excessive drinking can cause strain on the liver increasing the risk for disease, such as cirrhosis of the liver. When strain is put on your liver, its function slows tremendously. Your body will not get steady amounts of the minerals it needs to survive. Slowing the liver can also cause immune system sluggishness, which can cause sickness, further harming potassium levels in the bloodstream.