Potassium and Diabetes

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Potassium is a vital part of our everyday diet. Foods high in potassium include bananas, avocados, yogurt, beans and fish.

Like all nutrients, potassium is best consumed in moderation.

If you have diabetes, monitoring the amount of potassium in your body is important, as high or low levels can indicate serious health complications.

Potassium's Role in the Body

Potassium is often viewed as an electrolyte – an electrically charged particle or ion that cells use to carry impulses, such as nerve impulses, to other cells.

Potassium helps regulate your heart beat, assists in nerve conduction and helps your muscles contract. Potassium also maintains balance between cells and body fluids, which is regulated by the kidneys.

High vs. Low Potassium Levels

According to Diabetes Self Management, a normal level of potassium is between 3.7 and 5.2 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). You can test your potassium level via a simple blood test.

High potassium levels often result from kidney disease, a side effect of poorly managed diabetes. When the kidneys aren't working as efficiently as they should be, potassium levels can easily get too high.

Causes of low potassium levels range from dehydration and vomiting to serious issues such as cystic fibrosis and major burns.

Maintaining Healthy Potassium Levels with Diabetes

As a diabetic, you should talk to your health-care provider about any questions or concerns with your potassium levels or the health of your kidneys. Meeting with a dietician can also be extremely helpful.

When caught early on, unstable potassium levels can be balanced out to help you enjoy a happy and healthy life.

Source: Diabetes Self Management

Photo Credit: Michael Patterson on Flickr

 
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