Research offers new insight into how potassium impacts muscle fatigue

January 23, 2013

Topic: orthopaedic problems

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According to a new study published in the Journal of General Physiology, the accumulation of potassium ions in the extracellular matrices of working muscles has a greater impact on fatigue than previously thought. This finding gives researchers new insight on why muscle fatigue occurs in the body.

Muscle fatigue is a decrease in the ability to perform physical actions, as the body becomes tired and cannot exert its normal force, according to WebMD. This problem is often observed among athletes, who push their bodies to the limit while they train. While some professionals may attempt to push through any fatigue they experience, they also make themselves more susceptible to orthopaedic problems.

Since Danish researchers from Aarhus University discovered that where potassium exists in cells can significantly influence energy levels, athletes should make an effort to ensure that they get the proper amounts of the nutrient in the first place.

Potassium is an electrolyte that is crucial to the cardiovascular and muscular systems, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The nutrient can be consumed through a variety of foods, such as animal meats, some fish - like salmon, cod and flounder - fruits, vegetables, legumes and dairy products.

One thing that people should be aware of is that a diet rich in salt can decrease potassium levels. Therefore, if a significant amount of sodium is consumed, more potassium should be ingested as well.

Overall, adults should consume 4.7 grams of potassium per day to keep their muscles functioning effectively. Those who experience fatigue regularly may want to talk to their healthcare providers about getting tested to see if they are deficient in the nutrient.

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