Friday, February 13, 2009

this $%#& is bananas.. b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

I've had a lot of cramps and pains. I've been having mini-anxiety attacks, which I haven't had in close to a year. I've been exhausted. My memory's been shot. I was unaware that these could be caused by low potassium intake.

I've been very aware of my heart, to say the least, since it started to occur to me what I had been doing to my body. It has shrunk a bit from starvation. Though I have had little to no symptoms of orthostasis in a long time (which was far better than expected), I still need to keep an eye on my electrolytes.
Potassium is a very important electrolyte for the heart and the brain. It occurred to me - since running out of my best source (yogurt) - that I don't have many others left. I went through my kitchen the other night and checked the nutrition labels on all the foods I've been eating; no potassium to be found. I grabbed a Gatorade (75mg/bottle) and added a can of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup (90mg/can) to my dinner. (Don't worry, Mom, I've picked up some good ones since.)
The average potassium intake (K, if you will) an adult needs in a day is somewhere between 2,000 - 5,000mg, from what I've found. Per usual, different websites/sources give different information. I didn't even know where to find it. I know bananas are pretty well known for their supply, and I knew yogurt had it because my doctor said that's probably what was keeping my potassium in a healthy range (*phew!*).
Heart complications in eating disordered patients are (according to my doctor) often the result of a potassium deficiency, a condition called "hypokalemia." Symptoms of this condition can be irregular heart rhythms, muscle weakness, constipation and fatigue. With eating disorders, it is extremely important to keep up with blood testing to make sure that electrolytes are within healthy range.
For more information, these are a few good sites with effects of the definciency and some great sources where you can find potassium. Honestly, I was pretty surprised to see some of the places it's found. I would have never known it was in mushrooms or watermelon.


Standing in the Rain said...

I also have K+ issues and, like you, have been surprised by the foods that have a high amount of potassium in them. It's not just bananas!

saa said...

and potatoes!!!

Do you take vitamin supplements? I do, but I know you have to be really careful with them and that it is best to get vitamins/minerals from food.

There are so many mixed messages out there about vitamin/mineral supplements..i have no idea what to believe, really.