5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Potassium

Potassium doesn’t get as much attention as sodium in the press, but it is—and should be—a vital component of your daily diet. The mineral maintains muscle health, keeps you alert and conserves energy. It protects the heart, bones and kidney health too.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for potassium is 4700 mg. But a recent report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that only 2 per cent of Americans meet that goal. The pattern has remained unchanged since the 1990s, and women are seen to consume less potassium than men. One of the reasons for potassium deficiency, say experts, is that foods rich in sodium are also good sources of potassium; and cutting down on them can compromise potassium consumption, too. While cutting down on sodium is widely recommended, not many will tell you that increasing your potassium intake is important as well.

Here are some essential facts about potassium to help you regulate your intake and boost your health:

  • Think potassium and you think banana. But guess what, a medium baked potato contains 900 mg of potassium. That’s more than twice as much as is found in a banana (400 mg)! Just half a cup of tomato paste deliver about 664mg of potassium; just make sure you don’t load it with salt. Other rich sources of potassium include beet greens, white beans, avocados, plain non-fat yogurt and prune juice. It isn’t hard to raise your intake of potassium: simply cut down on sugary, fried foods and make way for veggies, fruits and whole grains. After all, that is how Nature intended us to eat!
  • Do you sometimes experience irregular heartbeat, tingling, cramps and weakness? The reason could be potassium deficiency. The symbol for potassium, as you might know, is the letter K, which stands for kalium. Deficit of potassium in the body is called hypokalemia and causes erratic heartbeat, muscle cramps and other conditions, since potassium regulates muscle coordination and contraction. Surprisingly, though less commonly, an excess of potassium (called hyperkalemia) can cause much the same symptoms.
  • Our bodies continually strive to maintain a normal pH balance of about 7 to 7.4, which is the ideal level at which our metabolic, enzymatic, immunologic and repair mechanisms function at their best. Adequate Potassium intake is essential for maintaining your body’s acid balance. It acts as a natural diuretic, which is absorbed during digestion. The excess is excreted, thus maintaining a steady pH level. This function also helps flush out kidney stones, which affect 1 in every 10 Americans.
  • Those who take medication for blood pressure could be at risk for low levels of potassium. This in turn can raise the risk of Type 2 diabetes among hypertensive patients. The solution, says Tariq Shafi, M.D., M.H.S., of the Department of Nephrology, John Hopkins, “Could be as simple as increasing the consumption of potassium-rich foods like bananas and oranges and/or reducing salt intake, both of which will keep potassium from dropping.”
  • Post-menopausal women can cut their risk of stroke and death by any other causes if they consume adequate potassium, according to a recent study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. The 11-year study found that women who ate the most potassium were 12 percent less likely to suffer stroke in general and 16 percent less likely to suffer an ischemic stroke (i.e., stroke caused by blood clot) than women who ate the least. Additionally, women who ate the most potassium were 10 percent less likely to die from any cause than those who ate the least.

 

80 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

thanks

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you

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Beverly S.
Beverly S2 years ago

Thanks for the article. Potassium is not something I think of, but it might explain the
occasional yen I get for mashed potatoes!

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Pablo B.
.2 years ago

tyfs

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Roberto MARINI
Roberto MARINI2 years ago

thank you for this article

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ERIKA SOMLAI
ERIKA S2 years ago

thank you for the good informations

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Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey2 years ago

Thank you for sharing this valuable article about the necessity of potassium. As a quick cheat, I will drink a low sodium V-8 which packs just over a thousand milligrams; about 1/4 of the daily need.

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Sherene Lambert
Sherene Lambert2 years ago

appreciate this articles

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