High-potassium Foods: What Is Potassium, And What's The Big Deal With It?
Potassium is a mineral and a type of electrolyte that your body needs to properly function. Now, the problem is that our wonderful bodies are not able to reduce potassium naturally. Thus, we are incredibly reliant on food and supplements to get the required amount of potassium to remain healthy.
The other issue? Taking too little or too much potassium can lead to temporary or long-term health consequences such as stroke and heart diseases. As such, it is imperative that you keep just the right balance in your diet. Below are some examples of the rough amount of recommended potassium intake in a day:
Keep in mind that your recommended potassium intake may differ according to age and gender to accommodate the differences in body and growth. The potassium intake recommendations in this article are simply estimations so always ensure to check with your local guidelines for more accurate information.
Why is it so important? Let us have a look!
Nerves, Muscles, and Heart:
Photo by Andres Ayrton from Pexels
Potassium is an electrolyte which means that it can carry around these small electrical charges that ultimately help our nerves to continue functioning. And why is it that we need to ensure that our nerves are on the top of their game? Our nerves are similar to communication threads which communicate with our brain and are responsible to send signals around the body to virtually do anything! For instance, we need these nerve impulses for muscle contraction and regulation of our heartbeat.
Our beautiful muscles move through a sequence of contraction and relaxation. Through various complex mechanisms, potassium happens to be one of the substances that aids in facilitating muscle contraction.
Similarly, our heart also works through a rhythmic pattern of contraction and relaxation. Lack of potassium can lead to irregular heartbeat which means that it won’t be as efficient and get blood around our body. This in turn can cause a myriad of other bodily issues and in some cases even death.
Approximately 60% of our body is made up of water and of this, around 40% of the water is within our cells. The thing about water is that it is fluid - it will move in and out of our cells and shift around. Potassium is the main electrolyte within our cells that helps to regulate how much water remains inside.
On the other hand, sodium aids to determine how much water is outside of our cells. If there is too little water in our cells, the cells will shrink so they won’t function as well. If there is too much water within, the cells will burst which is equally catastrophic because then we won’t even have cells to work with. This is why it is crucial to maintain a good fluid balance!
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels
Potassium helps to control your blood pressure in various ways. One of the ways it aids in reducing blood pressure is to relax the blood vessels that carry our blood. When these blood vessels are too narrow and rigid, it causes an increase in blood pressure that can lead to a plethora of heart issues.
Potassium also has a love-hate relationship with sodium. If our sodium levels are too high in our body, it can also lead to high blood pressure, potassium facilitates the removal of sodium through urine thereby decreasing its effects.
Protection Against Diseases:
Numerous studies have found that ensuring a good balance of potassium can help to protect against stroke, osteoporosis, heart diseases, and kidney stones. Potassium can also help treat excess fluid in the body thereby reducing water retention.
What Are The Foods That Are Rich In Potassium?
Various fresh fruits and vegetables have a high potassium content:
Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels
- Fruits from vines such as grapes and blackberries
- Dried fruits, such as raisins, and dates
- Root vegetables such as potatoes
- Citrus fruits such as grapefruit and oranges
- Leafy greens such as collards and spinach
Some dairy products may also contain a high level of potassium such as milk and yogurt. Beans or legumes such as lentils and soybeans are also a good option to go for if you want to increase the amount of potassium you eat.
You may also obtain your potassium diet quota from certain fish:
Photo by Farhad Ibrahimzade from Pexels
You may also get your potassium boost from other food such as nuts, meat, poultry, and bran cereal.
Photo by Marta Branco from Pexels
If you do have problems with reaching your potassium targets with diet alone, there are supplements to help. Here at GEM Pharmacy, we have an array of supplements that can readily incorporate potassium into your dietary schedule. If you would like to browse through our selection, do click here. But remember, if you do take any potassium supplement or complementary medications, ensure to always keep your doctor and any healthcare professionals informed!
References:Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). The Role of Potassium and Sodium in Your Diet. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/salt/potassium.htm
Deborah Weathespoon. (2019). Potassium. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/potassium#TOC_TITLE_HDR_1
Harvard T. H. Chan. (2021). Potassium. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/potassium/
MedlinePlus. (2017). Potassium. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/potassium.html
National Institute of Health. (2021). Potassium. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-HealthProfessional/
Ryan Raman. (2017). What Does Potassium Do for Your Body? A Detailed Review. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-does-potassium-do
WebMD. (2021). Potassium Rich Foods. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-rich-in-potassium#2