Potassium, What Is It?

Potassium is one of the seven essential macrominerals. The human body needs potassium to support key processes.

It is the third most abundant mineral in the body.

Potassium plays a role in the function of the kidneys, the heart, the muscles, and the transmission of messages through the nervous system.

Potassium is an important mineral that functions as an electrolyte. It helps regulate fluid balance, nerve signals, and muscle contractions.

Fluid balance is affected by electrolytes, mainly potassium and sodium. Eating a potassium-rich diet can help you maintain a good fluid balance.

This mineral plays an essential role in activating nerve impulses throughout your nervous system. Nerve impulses help regulate muscle contractions, the heartbeat, reflexes, and many other processes.

Potassium levels have a significant effect on muscle contractions. Altered levels can cause muscle weakness, and in the heart, they may cause an irregular heartbeat.

How much potassium do I need?

An adequate intake of potassium is 3,400 milligrams (mg) per day for healthy adult males and 2,600 mg per day for healthy adult females.

The adequate intake during pregnancy is 2,900 mg, and it is 2,800 mg while breastfeeding or chest feeding.

A person should aim to get their potassium from a healthy, balanced diet that provides a range of vitamins and minerals. In some circumstances, a doctor may recommend supplements

What foods provide potassium?

Potassium is present in many plant-based foods, but processing reduces the levels of this nutrient. Anyone with a diet high in processed foods may have a low potassium intake.

Many processed foods are also high in sodium, so a person with a highly-processed diet may need to increase their potassium intake accordingly.

Potassium is found in many foods. You can get recommended amounts of potassium by eating a variety of foods, including the following:

  • Fruits, such as dried apricots, prunes, raisins, orange juice, avocados, and bananas
  • Vegetables, such as acorn squash, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, beet greens, and broccoli
  • Lentils, kidney beans, soybeans, and nuts
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Meats, poultry, and fish

Foods highest in potassium

Bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, grapefruit (some dried fruits, such as prunes, raisins, and dates, are also high in potassium) Cooked spinach. Cooked broccoli. Potatoes.

Beans or legumes that are high in potassium include:

  • Lima beans.
  • Pinto beans.
  • Kidney beans.
  • Soybeans.
  • Lentils.

Salt substitutes

Potassium is an ingredient in many salt substitutes that people used to replace table salt. If you have kidney disease or if you take certain medications, these products could make your potassium levels too high. Talk to your healthcare provider before using salt substitutes.

5 Effects of potassium on health

Scientists are studying potassium to understand how it affects health. Here are some examples of what this research has shown.

1. High blood pressure and stroke

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke. People with low intakes of potassium have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, especially if their diet is high in salt (sodium). Increasing the amount of potassium in your diet and decreasing the amount of sodium might help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke.

2. Kidney stones

Getting too little potassium can deplete calcium from bones and increase the amount of calcium in the urine. This calcium can form hard deposits (stones) in your kidneys, which can be very painful. Increasing the amount of potassium in your diet might reduce your risk of developing kidney stones.

3. Bone health

People who have high intakes of potassium from fruits and vegetables seem to have stronger bones. Eating more of these foods might improve your bone health by increasing bone mineral density (a measure of bone strength).

4. Blood sugar control and type 2 diabetes

Low intakes of potassium might increase blood sugar levels. Over time, this can increase the risk of developing insulin resistance and lead to type 2 diabetes. But more research is needed to fully understand whether potassium intakes affect blood sugar levels and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

5. It May Reduce Water Retention

Water retention happens when excess fluid builds up inside the body.

Historically, potassium has been used to treat water retention.

Studies suggest that a high potassium intake can help reduce water retention by increasing urine production and reducing sodium levels.

Summary

Potassium helps your nerves to function and muscles to contract. It helps your heartbeat stay regular. It also helps move nutrients into cells and waste products out of cells. A diet rich in potassium helps to offset some of sodium’s harmful effects on blood pressure.

Please share your comments below:

  • What is your knowledge about potassium?
  • Which potassium have you tried to take and gave you your desired results?
  • Are you taking potassium now? If so, what health benefits do you derive from taking potassium?

Disclaimer

Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We encourage you to do your own research. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.

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References:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287212

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-Consumer/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-does-potassium-do

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