Each and every cell in your body needs potassium. Potassium is a nutrient that is basically involved in many bodily functions. Your body needs potassium to ensure proper digestion, skeletal and muscle contraction, as well as chemical and electrical stimulation. While potassium is very vital to the body, excessive levels or hyperkalemia, can cause serious adverse reactions.
Banana Potassium Content
Bananas are undeniably a good source of potassium. One banana contains a potassium level of at least 450 milligrams. This is more than 20 percent of your daily requirement. Potassium is a mineral that helps maintain the acid-water balance in the body. It also helps in building muscles and improving cell communication by stimulating electrical signals between nerves and cells. When a particular electrolyte is either too great or too small, the body basically responds to correct the imbalance by pulling from other sources of electrolyte in the body. During this state, the person begins to sense that something is wrong.
The normal potassium level in the blood is 3.5 to 5.0 mEq/L. Too much potassium in the body can trigger electrolyte imbalance. This happens when the serum potassium level shoots up to 5.3 mEq/L and higher. Hyperkalemia is the scientific or medical term for excessive levels of potassium present in the blood. Depending on the excess amount of potassium, hyperkalemia is categorized into mild, moderate and severe levels. The regulation of electrolytes in the body plays a very crucial role to keep everything else calm and smooth.
There are many causes of hyperkalemia. These include the use of potassium sparing diuretics, decreased aldosterone secretion, metabolic acidosis, rapid IV infusion, excessive use of potassium supplements, etc. Once hyperkalemia occurs, a person may experience muscle cramping and weakness in the lower extremities, and several other signs and symptoms.
Because potassium is a key electrolyte in muscle contraction, insufficient or profuse levels of these electrolytes can sure have adverse effects on the body. In essence, too much banana consumption can cause hyperkalemia, which will consequently trigger leg cramps.
Leg cramps are the painful result of the spontaneous tightening of muscle in the calf area and sometimes in the foot. These muscular contractions are often experienced at night, commonly affecting elder people than younger ones. If you are previously diagnosed to have hyperkalemia, taking bananas in the attempt to relieve leg cramping is not a good idea at all. Instead of peeling off a finger of banana, exercise and stretch the affected leg. Other techniques used to stop leg cramps include leaning forward against the wall, putting pressure on the calf, pointing the toes upward, walking a few steps, taking a warm bath, and applying ice massages to the muscles.
Hyperkalemia is diagnosed through blood testing. So before you overwhelm yourself with bananas all day, make sure you have your potassium levels monitored first by your doctor. Otherwise, you might just end up wondering what causes your leg cramps where bananas are in fact known as a remedy for cramps and spasms.