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Potassium

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What is potassium?
Potassium is an essential mineral. Like sodium, it binds readily with other minerals, and does not occur naturally in an unbound state. Potassium is required for the proper functioning of many major organ systems.

Why is potassium necessary?
Potassium is essential for the heart, kidneys, muscles, nerves, and digestive system to operate normally, and is required for regulating fluid balance, the body's acid-base balance, and blood pressure.

What are the signs of a deficiency?
Potassium deficiency symptoms include irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness and mood changes, as well as nausea and vomiting. People with kidney disease, gastrointestinal disease and those who take diuretics may have lower levels of potassium.

How much, and what kind, does an adult need?
Although daily multivitamin supplements may contain tiny amounts of potassium as part of their multi-mineral complexes, Dr. Weil does not recommend potassium supplements, except as prescribed by a physician.

How much does a child need?
Although daily multivitamin supplements may contain tiny amounts of potassium as part of their multi-mineral complexes, Dr. Weil does not recommend potassium supplements, except as prescribed by a physician.

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Coffee Drinking Linked to Less Depression in Women

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Morning pick-me-up? For many women, the mood-elevating effects of a cup of coffee may be more than fleeting.

A new study shows that women who regularly drink coffee the fully caffeinated kind have a 20 percent lower risk of depression than nondrinkers. Decaf, soft drinks, chocolate, tea and other sources of caffeine did not offer the same protection against depression, possibly because of their lower levels of caffeine, the authors say.

Dr. Albert Ascherio, an author of the study and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, said it was too early to recommend that women load up on extra lattes. More research is needed, he said, and a very high level of caffeine can increase anxiety and insomnia, potentially reversing any mood-lifting effects.

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