Explore the health and wellbeing issues concerning pain killers and potassium.
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Learn about Pain Killers and Potassium Narrator: There is nothing quite so debilitating as chronic pain. Perhaps you suffer from an old back injury or recurrent migraines. Whatever it is, sometimes the only available option seems to be to reach for the pain killers. But don’t let them out stay their welcome. Some pain killers are highly addictive and others often negative side-effects with prolonged use, even the over-the-counter varieties. Dr. Tim Spector: You just need to discuss with your doctor the possible risks and benefits of these medications because there are a number of alternatives you can take to reduce your risk of having problems. Narrator: Paracetamol appears to be a fairly harmless drug. But if taken in the wrong dose, it can impair the liver especially if you are a heavy drinker. Ibuprofen is another commonly purchased pain killer that can have nasty side effects. Dr. Colin Baigent: What we found as we possibly suspected, the newer anti-inflammatory drugs called Cox-2 inhibitors were associated in about the doubling of the risk half the times. But also some of the older anti-inflammatory drugs particularly ibuprofen and Diclofenac were associated with similar risks. What that translates to for most people without vascular disease is about three extra half of time for every thousand people treated in each year. So they’re relatively modest risks. Narrator: Acupuncture, meditation and other forms of complementary medicine are very effective in relieving chronic pain. Why box yourself in with pain killers? Potassium is the seventh most abundant mineral in the earth’s crust and is present in every single cell of the human body. It helps regulate blood pressure. It's integral to the movement of muscles and helps to eliminate wastes from the body. Each day, we need about 3,500 micrograms of potassium. This is best sourced from fruit and vegetables. Potatoes and bananas are a fabulous source of potassium, each providing about 12% of your daily needs. Hypokalemia or potassium deficiency can result in heart problems and paralysis. So keep up the fresh fruit and vegetable intake. Early symptoms of deficiency include dry skin, slow reflexes and fatigue. But considering potassium is present in most foods, you should be able to avoid becoming depleted. Citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables are good sources of potassium. Broccoli will give you over 10% of the RDA. But if you don’t feel like eating a cup of it to get your 300 micrograms, perhaps a supplement would be more to your taste. According to a Harvard study done on 14 men with severe Hypertension, blood pressure was reduced significantly after a mere two weeks of potassium supplementation. If it wasn’t for potassium, we wouldn’t have bright, sweet, ripe tomatoes to eat. Potassium levels in the soil are crucial for great crops. The antioxidant lycopene found in tomatoes is great for cardiovascular protection but it wouldn’t be present in high amounts if it wasn’t for potassium. Beef and chicken are good sources of potassium too but not as good as fruit and vegetables. Broiling meat or simmering in water increases the potassium levels. Boiling vegetables however will deplete them. Steam or bake instead. Salmon is a potassium powerhouse. Gastric bypass surgery patients suffering from low potassium levels may find an improvement after eating a salmon and citrus combination. Halibut is another potassium-rich fish. If you’re a vegetarian, opt for seaweeds. Our bodies would literally seize up if we didn’t get enough potassium everyday. Keep your diet fresh and varied.