Dietary sources of sodium, potassium, others
The main source of sodium is from table salt, otherwise called NaCl (sodium chloride). This sodium chloride and by extension sodium, can be found in drinking water, in veggies such as celery and beets and in milk. Other sources are MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) and processed meats, ham and bacon for example, canned vegetables and fast foods.
Also an alkaline mineral, potassium, is the main mineral inside the cells. It is necessary for the functions of all living cells. Potassium plays a significant role in the osmotic balance between the cells and interstitial fluid through the Na+/K+-ATPase pump. It maintains fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Potassium is also involved in the transmission of impulse in the neurones (nerves and the brain).
Furthermore, researchers have discovered that potassium protects blood vessels from free radical damage and also prevents plaque formation on the vessels.
Sources of potassium
Rich sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, tomato sauces/puree, runner (white) beans, chocolate, dried milk, dried apricot, parsley, pistachios, almonds, bananas, avocados and soybeans. Other sources are beet leaves, yogurt, prunes, orange juice, carrot juice and fish (tuna, halibut and cod).
Deficiency of potassium in the body is known as hypokalaemia. Likely causes of hypokalaemia are excessive urinating, diarrhoea, excessive vomiting and sweating. Other causes are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Signs and symptoms of hypokalaemia
In mild cases of hypokalaemia symptoms such as weakness, muscle weakness and sluggish reflex responses can be experienced. In more severe cases, you could have things like ECG abnormalities, cardiac arrythmias, respiratory paralysis and alkalosis.
Management of hypokalaemia
Fortunately, hypokalaemia is not a very common disease in this part of the world. Regular consumption of foods as listed above will ensure that you get up to the daily recommended amount of potassium that will prevent such a condition as hypokalaemia. There are potassium supplements that can be purchased from health food shops that can be taken to prevent and treat cases of hypokalaemia.
Potassium and hypertension
Potassium supplements and eating foods that are rich in potassium have been found to reduce the risk of hypertension and its complications. However, always consult your doctor before you take any supplements.
Minerals of life – magnesium
Magnesium is the most abundant mineral found inside all the cells of the body. Due to its abundant presence in all cells, it is involved in several processes that go on inside the cells.One single place where magnesium is found in high concentration is the chlorophyll. The role of magnesium in chlorophyll and by extension the human body and life makes it a good place to continue this discuss on magnesium.
Chlorophyll is the green pigment that colours the leaves of plants green. It is described as the ‘blood’ of the plants. Indeed, it is similar to blood in the human body, but the major difference is that in chlorophyll, magnesium is the metal in the centre of the porphyrin ring.
In the human being, iron occupies the central position of the ring where it is known as haem. The function of haem which is attached to protein to form haemoglobin, is to trap and transport oxygen from the lungs to the cells.
On the other hand, magnesium in chlorophyll is what traps the sun energy in a process referred to as photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which the plants synthesize their energy using the sun, carbon dioxide, water and other nutrients that accompany water from the soil, as raw materials.
Magnesium plays a very significant role in this process. This is because magnesium is the element that traps the sun. In fact without magnesium, the process of photosynthesis will fail and there will be no life, both for the plants and members of the animal kingdom, that depend on plants for survival.
Chlorophyll in green leaves is one of the most essential sources of magnesium and in both plants and animals, it can be described as the ‘element of life’. Without it, plants cannot trap the energy of the sun to produce their own energy for growth and storage. It is the stored energy of plants as fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, tubers etc that make up the food of man and animals.