The Importance of Potassium

 Potassium is a mineral that is involved in both electrical and cellular functions in the body. (In the body it is classified as an electrolyte).

Potassium is a very important mineral to the human body. It has various roles in metabolism and body functions:

    * It assists in the regulation of the acid-base balance and water balance in the blood and the body tissues.

    * It assists in protein synthesis from amino acids and in carbohydrate metabolism.

    * It is necessary for the building of muscle and for normal body growth.

    * It is needed for the proper functioning of nerve cells, in the brain and throughout the body.

Potassium in Diet: Food Sources

Fish such as salmon, cod, flounder, and sardines are good sources of potassium. Various other meats also contain potassium.

Vegetables including broccoli, peas, lima beans, tomatoes, potatoes (especially their skins), and leafy green vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, and parsley contain potassium.

Fruits that contain significant sources of potassium are citrus fruits, apples, bananas, and apricots. Dried apricots contain more potassium than fresh apricots.

Potassium in Diet: Recommendations

There is no recommended daily allowance for potassium, although experts recommend approximately 2 to 2.5 grams per day. The average American diet provides 2 to 6 grams of potassium per day.

Over-the-counter potassium supplements provide 99 milligrams of potassium per tablet. Potassium supplementation should never be taken without the approval of your GE E-Care health care provider.

Potassium in Diet: Side Effects

A deficiency of potassium (hypokalemia) can occur in people with chronic disease or as a result of the aging process. The most common problems associated with reduced potassium levels are hypertension, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmias, depression, and fatigue. A variety of conditions can cause the loss of potassium from the body. The most common of these conditions are vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal problems.

Hypokalemia can also be caused when too much water is taken in too quickly in conjunction with heavy perspiration — for example, in an overzealous attempt to prevent dehydration during sports. This can affect marathon runners and other serious athletes.

Renal disease (such as acute renal failure) and diabetes, depending on the stage of either, can also cause fluctuations in the levels of potassium. Additionally, many medications can cause depletion of potassium. Examples include diuretics, cortisone, prolonged use of aspirin, and laxatives.

The most common symptom of potassium depletion is fatigue. Other symptoms of potassium deficiency include slow reflexes, muscle weakness, and dry skin. A quick loss of potassium could lead to cardiac arrhythmias.

Severe potassium deficiency symptoms include decreased heart rate, extreme muscle weakness, bone fragility and, if untreated, death. A low level of potassium can be determined with a blood test and can be treated with potassium supplements.

Increased levels of potassium in the blood is known as hyperkalemia. Some common causes of this are reduced renal (kidney) function, an abnormal breakdown of protein, and severe infection. If there is no pathological cause for increased potassium levels, the kidneys are able to handle a large amount of potassium, and prevent the blood levels from increasing.

Face-to-Face Medical Care over the Internet?

Face-to-Face Medical Care over the Internet?

A new unified communications solution from iVisit, iVisit Rx telemedicine platform, just won first place in the Fourth Annual CTIA Emerging Technologies Awards for Healthcare. The face-to-face communication platform brings medical professionals and their patients together for remote treatment and monitoring. It works on IP and 3G+ networks and allows connectivity between mobile phones, desktops, laptops and mobile diagnostic devices. The beta version now available runs on Windows Mobile with touch screens and PCs.

“iVisit’s video conferencing and data services running on Windows Mobile are a good example of high value 3G services that are now possible,” said Steve Hegenderfer, group product manager for Windows Mobile at Microsoft Corp. “The Windows Mobile platform makes it possible for developers, such as iVisit, to easily build compelling applications with a familiar programming language and top-level industry tools.”

According to iVisit:     iVisit and its partners are developing iVisit Rx as a telemedicine and assisted living platform that combats soaring healthcare costs. For example, CELLUCARE is helping patients manage their diabetes condition by providing coaching and intervention, which reduces the likelihood of medical events that incur higher costs and improves quality of the patients’ mobile lifestyle. Nurse Practitioners talk face-to-face with patients in their homes using 2-way video over mobile phones powered by iVisit Rx.

    A second iVisit Rx partner, Wound Technology Network (WTN), offers a distributed wound treatment program where two wound specialists (one on location, one connected remotely) simultaneously assess and treat patient wounds. Through its centralized specialist call center, care management software, and use of iVisit Rx, WTN offers patients a level of wound care expertise, standardized protocols, and quality of care that rivals the best specialty wound care clinics.

“iVisit is a great example of public and private investment in critical healthcare research and development,” said Rohit Shukla, CEO of the Larta Institute. “We are proud to be associated with such a stellar group of folks, as they define the future of mobile communications and bring its advantages and advances to underserved populations.” iVisit is a participant in the Commercialization Assistance Program (CAP) which Larta Institute manages for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Healthy Foods that Contain Vitamin A

Healthy Foods that Contain Vitamin A

Many plant-based eaters are under the impression that they can obtain all the vitamin A that they need from plant foods that contain carotenoids, particularly beta carotene found in foods like spinach, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

It’s true that some carotenoids like beta carotene can be converted to vitamin A in your body once they make it into your blood. What you may not know is that carotenoids are not always absorbed efficiently into your blood.

Given that vitamin A deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world and is also a leading cause of death in young children, it’s critical for the general public to know that relying solely on carotenoids in plant foods for daily vitamin A needs may lead to any of the following health problems over time:

Skin Lesions Like Acne and Acne Rosacea: Vitamin A is needed to develop and maintain moist and healthy epithelial tissues, including your skin. Many long time vegans find it difficult to understand why they have acne while on a whole food, plant-based diet. Vitamin A deficiency is undoubtedly a common cause of acne for all acne sufferers, but particularly for people who eat mainly a plant-based diet and don’t include a reliable source of vitamin A in their diets.

Poor Night Vision: Vitamin A combines with a protein in the back of your eye to enable night vision.

Weak Bones, Weak Teeth, and Poorly Spaced Teeth: Vitamin A is needed for proper growth and maintenance of bones and other soft tissues throughout your body.

A Weak Immune System: Because vitamin A is needed for the development and maintainance of all of your body’s barriers to infection like your skin, lungs, and the mucosal linings in your digestive and urinary tracts, a deficiency almost assures you of an immune system that is not as strong as it can be.

Cancer: Since vitamin A is essential to the health of your immune system, a deficiency could increase your risk for developing certain forms of cancer, such as breast, lung, stomach, and cervical cancer.

Anemia and Associated Fatigue: Vitamin A is needed for proper red blood cell formation.

Vitamin A is actually a group of compounds that includes retinol, retinal, and the carotenoids. Retinol and retinal are found in animal foods such as liver, eggs, and butter. Because these forms of vitamin A are ready to be used by your body straight from their food sources, they are often referred to as pre-formed vitamin A.

Carotenoids, in turn, are often referred to as provitamin A since they are precursors to Vitamin A and need to be converted in your body.

The total vitamin A in your diet is therefore a combination of the pre-formed vitamin A and provitamin A in your diet.

It’s important to note that optimal absorption of retinol, retinal, and the carotenoids into your blood requires an adequate amount of healthy fat in your diet. This is because pre-formed and provitamin A are fat soluble compounds that are best absorbed into your blood in the presence of digestive juices that are needed to digest fat. The more healthy fat you include in your diet, the better you will absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K into your blood.

It is not practical to offer a chart that lists specific amounts of useable vitamin A in different foods because the amount of vitamin A that ultimately reaches your blood depends on the variables described above.

So, here are two simple lists of healthy foods that contain significant amounts of pre-formed and provitamin A. I believe that it is best for most people to eat foods from both groups on a regular basis to to meet their daily vitamin A needs.

Pre-formed Vitamin A:

  • Organic beef liver
  • Organic lamb liver
  • Organic eggs
  • Organic butter
  • Cod liver oil

Provitamin A:

  • Sweet potatoes or yams
  • Cantaloupe
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Butter nut squash

What About Toxicity?

With the exception of cod liver oil, all of the other foods listed above have virtually no potential to cause vitamin A toxicity in your tissues. So long as you stick to an appropriate dose of cod liver oil, you can rest assured knowing that you aren’t getting too much vitamin A each day.

Every study that discusses the potential for vitamin A toxicity looked at synthetic sources of vitamin A. Clearly, it is best to get vitamin A from the healthy foods listed above and to avoid synthetic sources at all times.