Magnesium and potassium

Magnesium and potassium

Magnesium and potassium : Any diet which contains higher level of sodium and lower level of potassium is likely to cause high blood pres. sure. Potassium, sodium and chloride, all these mineral salts conduct electricity when dissolved in water.

Potassium maintains B.P. level

It maintains water level and manages its distribution.

Controls functions of the heart.

Regulates kidney and adrenal function.

Balances acid—base level.

It is mostly found within the cells as against sodium which is outside the cells in blood and other fluids. Cells pump sodium out and potassium in. This act maintains the electric charge within the cells. When nerves are transmitted and muscles contract, potassium comes out of cells and sodium enters. This causes change in electric charge and consequently nerve impulse or muscle contraction.

It is very necessary to have a proper balance between sodium and potassium in the blood. Low potassium diet and high sodium diet can cause cancer and heart diseases. In fact high dose of potassium and low dose of sodium can be used as a shield against heart ailments.

But low in-take of sodium alone would not bring down the blood pressure. We also need to take a high potassium dose. There have been cases when potassium intake alone has brought down blood pressure that was caused by hypertension. Potassium supplementation may prove more useful in controlling blood pressure in case of elderly people who do not react to high blood pressure— Iow- ering drugs.

Potassium-sodium contents in some food items:

(in milligrams/per serving)

Items                  Size                    Potassium               Sodium

Potato.                1 medium                780                     5
Spinach                1/2 cup                 290                     45  

Tomato (raw)           1 medium                444                     5
Carrot (raw)           1 cup                   230                     35

Asparagus              1/2 cup                 165                     2

Corn.                  1/2 cup                 135                     negligible

Apple                  1 medium                182                     2

Aprient (dry)          1/4 cup                 3/8                     8

Banana                 1 medium                440                     1

Orange                 1 medium                263                     1
Peach                  1 medium                308                     2

Plums                  5                       150                     1

Strawberries           1/2 cup                 122                     negligible

Chicken                3 ozs.                  350                     54

Tuna                   3 ozs                   220                     35

Cod                    3 ozs                   340                     90

Roast beef             3 ozs                   225                     50
Lamb (leg)             3 ozs                   240                     50

Magnesium’s role in preventing heart diseases and stroke can be hardly emphasised. Not only that, studies have shown that it can prove effective in treating a number of cardio—vascular diseases like angina, arrythmias, congestion of heart and high blood pressure. It is only second to potassium in importance within body cells. Therefore, it is important that it should be supplemented with potassium.

Magnesium is found in ‘hard’ water and where its content is high, study shows in majority of cases, there is lesser risk of a high blood pressure. But there are other factors also on play. For example, magnesium intake halts its depletion which is caused by diuretic. It also helps if the blood pressure is caused by an enzyme—renin— released by kidneys which forms angiotensin and releases aldosterone. These compounds bring about atherosclerosis.

In case of elderly people, people with high blood pres. sure and those indulging in rigorous exercises, a dose of 2 grams to 5 grams daily is required. Potassium is available in the market in the form of potassium chloride and bicarbonate.

Here a word of caution: High doses of potassium salts may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and ulcers. Hence it is advisable to have food-based potassium rather than taking it in pill form. Body weight should also be taken into account before recommending potassium doses. For a person who has a weight of 110 pounds 300 mg is enough and for one who is 200 pound in weight, 540 mg would be suffice.

But patients with kidney trouble are likely to get disturbances in heart’s function and hence should restrict in-take of potassium. Such people should abide by the advice of their physician in the intake of magnesium as well as potassium.

Magnesium doses for dietary allowance

Infants                   Age                        Doses
                          5 months                   35-40 mg

                          upto 1 year                50-60 mg

                          1-3 years                  75-80 mg
                          4-6 years                  110-120 mg

                          7-10 years                 170 mg


                         11-14 years                 250 mg
                         15-18 years                 410 mg

                         19 years + abvoe            350 mg

                         in pregnancy                320 mg
                         Lactating                   280-300 mg


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