Essential Minerals Potassium & Sulphur

Essential minerals in our bodies- part ll: potassium & sulphur

Nutrients are the key to our well being. Among the collection of nutrients, minerals are one of the chief driving factors of all the chemical reactions in our body and hence facilitate the proper functioning of the machinery within our body. Essential Minerals are categorized as – Macrominerals and Microminerals. 

Although in its overall relationship about 60 different minerals have been identified in the body, the 21 essential minerals listed below would make up about five pounds of the total body structure, and are vital requirements in order for the human body to function properly.  Follow the series of articles over the next few weeks to learn just how important Minerals are, especially during the early years of life.

Macrominerals

Calcium

Phosphorus

Potassium

Sulphur

Sodium

Chlorine

Magnesium

 

 

Microminerals or Trace Elements

Iron

Iodine

Zinc

Selenium

Manganese

Copper

Cobalt

Molybdenum

Chromium

Fluorine

Silicon

Vanadium

Nickel

Tin    

As we continue to explore the significance of minerals in our body, two minerals, namely, potassium and sulphur are bound to intrigue us with their role played to run different functions in the body. Let’s get to know these minerals better.

POTASSIUM:

Our internal message transmitting system through nerves will fall apart in the absence of potassium. This mineral, with the help of another element called sodium, acts as an electrolyte and aid in the conduction of electricity in the body. The difference in concentration of potassium and sodium on either side of a cell membrane gives rise to membrane potential. Exchange of these two minerals across the cell triggers results in temporary change in this potential which triggers the spread of information between nerves through nerve impulses. The movement of water, in and out of cells is crucial to keep the cell alive and perform vital activities essential for sustaining life. However, lack of adequate amount of potassium and its co-partner sodium will jeopardise the entire phenomenon and our body functions will run haywire.

Maintaining sodium-potassium in the body calls for about 20-40% of our energy. But presence of potassium in our system helps us afford this expense by aiding in carbohydrate metabolism. The energy stored during these chemical processes are then stored in muscles as well as the liver and thus our body never runs out of its driving force or energy. Sometimes, high level of sodium can turn out to be perilous to us and give rise to several problems like hypertension. But potassium comes to the rescue and does not hesitate to drive its trusted companion away from the body through the kidneys, thus keeping your blood pressure in control.

Potassium compounds in our diet counteract with the metabolic acids which eat away the bone and thus ensure enduring skeletal health. Potassium also looks after our digestive process and assists in muscular contractions. All you need is a daily supply of about 4.7 grams of potassium from your diet to enjoy its benefits to the fullest.

You can rely on fruits like strawberries, bananas, avocados and apricots, veggies like cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, leafy greens, pumpkin, broccoli and tomatoes for your daily dose of potassium. High protein foods such as tuna, salmon, chicken and beef also delivers their share of potassium.

Other Sources of Potassium

Beets, cantaloupe, dates, figs, kiwi fruit, melons, honeydew melon, milk (fat free or skim), nectarines,orange juice, oranges, pears (fresh), peanuts (dry roasted, unsalted), potatoes (baked), prune juice, prunes, dried, raisins, spinach  (cooked), winter squash, yogurt plain, skim milk.

The Caribbean has an advantage in having the benefit of its supply, owing to their cuisine dominated by potassium-rich food like bananas, ackee and avocados. Failing to treat your body with proper amount of potassium might lead to a number of discomforts. Deficiency of potassium or hypokalemia can lead to a lethargic feeling followed by weakness, irregular heartbeat, kidney ailments, diabetes and muscular spasms. However, a little extra care towards your diet can solve the problem. Apart from indulging in potassium-rich food, steer clear of over-boiled as well as canned foods and don’t forget to drink lots of water in order to maintain the potassium balance in the body.

SULPHUR

Sulphur is yet another element indispensable for our well being in spite of being present in small amounts. A cell is incomplete without sulphur and without its proper supply; every cell would perish, thus leading to organ failure and massive deterioration of health. Sulphur is a part of the amino acids involved in bile production by liver, thus enhancing digestive process. It also lends a hand in using oxygen during cellular respiration thus aiding cellular activities as well as provoking the brain to work more efficiently. Sulphur also flushes out the wretched toxins from our system and cleanses it.

This element creates a barrier against the environmental vulnerabilities, like pollutants and protects the body from their detrimental effects.  Daily dose of sulphur can keep you youthful and glowing for the larger part of your life. Its anti-oxidative properties delays the aging of cells while it looks after your skin, hair and nails by taking part in the formation of one of their important component – collagen. In fact, sulphur is also referred to as the ‘beauty element’.

Our body hardly suffers from sulphur deficiency, thanks to its presence in nearly every food which we take. However, when sulphur deficiency strikes, synthesizing proteins become a problem and continue to breakdown steadily. Thus our muscles lose integrity, becomes weak and we tend to feel fatigued after the slightest of work.

Make a point to include sulphur rich foods like leafy greens, onion, leeks, cauliflower, fruits and sausages in your diet to avoid such consequences. Though alcohol is bad for our health, wine and beer in small amounts can actually favour your health by the amount of sulphur present in them.

A healthy supply of potassium and sulphur will enrich your body with their goodness and help you to live a healthy life.

By Liya Das

Read more in the Series:

Essential minerals in our body

The importance of sodium, chlorine, & magnesium

The imporance of iron & iodine

The importance of zinc & selenium

The importance of manganese, copper, & cobalt

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