7 amazing Benefits of Potassium
Your body needs potassium, a mineral that keeps it working properly. Along with sodium and chloride, potassium is one of the essential electrolytes your body needs.
Your kidneys, heart and other organs need potassium to function properly. You should get enough of this mineral naturally by eating a healthy diet. But, when you’re not getting enough potassium, it can put you at risk of:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Digestive disorders
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends a potassium intake of:
- 4,700 mg/day for adults and adolescents
- 3,000 mg/day for children up to 3 years old
- 3,800 mg/day for children 4 to 8 years
- 4,500 mg/day for kids 9 to 13.
You are more at risk for a potassium deficiency if you:
- Have a physically demanding job
- Use diuretics or other specific medications
- Exercise in hot climates and sweat excessively
- Abuse drugs or alcohol
- Have an eating disorder
- Have Crohn’s disease or another health condition that affects your digestive absorption
Potassium Food Sources
You can obtain your natural sources of potassium through foods such as:
- Seeds and nuts
- Banana and other fruit
- Shellfish and fish
- Pulses and vegetables
- Chicken, beef, and turkey
There are certain cooking methods, such as boiling, that may destroy some food’s potassium.
When you’re low in potassium, your doctor will likely suggest you improve your diet or take a potassium supplement. But, unless you get that recommendation from your doctor, you shouldn’t take potassium supplements before clearing it with your doctor.
Benefits of Potassium
Around 80 million adult Americans have some type of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. By making healthier food choices, you can decrease your chances of heart disease. Healthy foods typically contain potassium. While potassium doesn’t prevent or treat heart disease, it can help your heart in several ways by getting enough of it. And it provides other health benefits, including these seven potential benefits of potassium below.
1. Lowers Your Cholesterol
Although there’s no association between potassium and lower cholesterol, fruits, and vegetables and many diets that result in lower cholesterol are additionally rich in potassium. And, when your bad cholesterol level (LDL) drops, chances are your risk of heart disease will too.
2. Helps with Blood Pressure
Eating a diet high in vegetables, fruits and low-fat or fat-free dairy food may drop your systolic blood pressure more than 10 points when you have high blood pressure.
3. Enhance Bone Health
According to some research, potassium rich-diets could prevent osteoporosis and increase bone-mineral density, particularly in older women. The Journal of Nutrition published a review article in its 2008 issue showing that when there’s an increase in potassium intake, it increases bone formation and decreases excretion of urinary calcium. Studies on top of this showed women who were consuming lower amounts of potassium had weaker bones and lower bone-mineral densities than women who were consuming high potassium amounts.
4. Regulates Heartbeat
Potassium helps in regulating your heart so it beats in a healthy manner. Therefore, potassium may help if you have heart rhythm problems.
5. Improves Cardiovascular Health
The Journal of American College of Cardiology published a meta-analysis in its 2011 issue suggesting diets rich in potassium may help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
6. Treats Hypokalemia
A vital use of potassium is to treat hypokalemia (low potassium) symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Cramping of the muscles
- Stomach disturbances
- Lack of energy
- Abnormal EKG (electrocardiogram measuring heart function)
- Irregular heartbeat
When your body loses a lot of potassium in your intestines or urine, it usually results in hypokalemia. A doctor should always treat this condition since it could be life-threatening.
7. Eases Muscle Cramping
If you live in a climate that’s hot or tend to sweat when you exercise more than others, take notice of your potassium intake. Cardiovascular issues and muscle cramping may result from low potassium. So, if you’re experiencing cramping in your muscles during your workouts, you may want to re-work your diet to include more potassium.
Potassium-rich foods, such as sweet potatoes, acorn squash, root vegetables, green, leafy vegetables, and bananas, even help with waste eliminate and pain, like headaches and migraines. So, you can see, it’s not only important to get enough potassium but will also benefit you in many ways.