People are becoming more aware of the numerous health benefits of coconut water. But, regardless of this, just like any other ingredients, you should consume coconut water in moderate quantities because its excessive consumption can be harmful and lead to some serious health problems.
Justin Hakimian, MD, and his team at the Department of Cardiology, New York Hospital Queens conducted a study known as “Death by Coconut” which was published in The Circulation.
The study was about a 42-year old man who after drinking excessive amounts of coconut water experienced abnormal heart rhythms and fainting. This happened as a result of the extremely high amounts of potassium. When the man experienced this, he was playing tennis the entire day at a temperature higher than 90 degrees F and had consumed 8 (11-ounce) bottles of coconut water.
Suddenly, he felt dizzy and lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital where the doctors discovered that he had a low blood pressure, low heart rate, and was completely disoriented. This was caused by the excessive amounts of potassium in the blood. We need to maintain a balance of this mineral, so our heart and other muscles in the body will be able to function properly. Most of the Americans do not have enough intake of this mineral, which can be found in fruits and vegetables. But, the excessive intake of it in a short period of time can have damaging, even fatal effects on the heart rhythm. It can even lead to ventricular fibrillation, a state in which the lower parts of the heart flutter with raised speed instead of pumping blood. If the patient does not treat this state, the heart can stop beating, and the patient will die eventually.
The Institute of Medicine claims that 4,700 mg is the proper daily intake of potassium for adults. The maximum limit intake of potassium on a daily basis is still unknown, but however, the excessive intake can result in death. The reduced excretion, excessive intake, or both can raise the potassium levels in the body. Moreover, the potassium intake in combination with some drug therapy which additionally increases the potassium levels in the body can be extremely dangerous for your health.
Also, the potassium levels in the body can be increased by:
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Breakdown of red blood cells (hemolysis)
- Kidney disease
- Addison’s disease (adrenal failure)
- Burns and trauma
- Breakdown of muscle tissue (rhabdomyolysis)
- Medications like ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, and antibiotics such as penicillin
The study about the man who drank 8 bottles of coconut water also discovered that the man had muscle tissue breakdown (rhabdomyolysis), a condition which is caused by muscle exertion which usually is a result of endurance exercise, damp conditions, exercising in hot temperatures and strenuous exercise.
Muscle tissue breakdown, on the other hand, is a contributor to kidney damage. The doctors confirmed that the patient through the 8 servings of coconut water consumed 5,500 mg of potassium. Along with the potassium released from the muscle fibers, the potassium present in the coconut water was the reason for hospitalizing the man.
However, the man was lucky enough and after 3 days he completely recovered. The function of his heart and muscles were brought back to normal, and the potassium levels in his body were controlled.
Many experts discuss that the high potassium levels in the body which are a result of the excessive consumption of coconut water can be extremely dangerous to your health. People who have some heart issues and suffer from some kind of kidney disease are recommended to avoid drinking coconut water, especially after strenuous exercise when the electrolytes levels in the body decrease significantly. Coconut water can’t adequately hydrate the body in these conditions because it does not contain a lot of electrolytes.
We do not want to make you think that the coconut water is harmful to your health and you should stop consuming it. Actually, it is a great source of nutrients essential for the proper function of the body. But, it is very important to limit the intake of coconut water to a couple of serving a day, so you will not face the health risks.
Source: Healthy Food House