Are you Getting Enough Potassium in your Diet?
Although most people are aware that nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D and the various B-Vitamins are essential to remain healthy, not everyone is aware of the crucial role that potassium plays in the body. However, this often-forgotten nutrient is responsible for ensuring that many functions in your body are able to work to their full potential.
Potassium is an important nutrient for everyone because it helps regulate so many functions, including fluid maintenance, waste removal, muscle and nervous system functions, and blood pressure.
People who do not get enough potassium in their diets might experience fatigue, insomnia, muscle weakness, and even heart problems.
Did you know that you need approximately 4,700 mg per day of potassium?
It is critical to get enough potassium and at the same time lower your sodium intake for a strong and healthy heart.
Common Symptoms of Potassium Deficiency
Some of the most common symptoms of a potassium deficiency include, but may not be limited to severe fatigue, weakness in the muscles, inactive reflexes, irregular heartbeat, and occurrences of palpitations, severe headaches, anemia, and high blood pressure, intestinal pains, swelling of one or more glands in the body or even diabetes in severe cases. Other less common symptoms can include vomiting, nausea, sudden and sharp muscle spasms and constipation.
Regulate Blood Pressure and Heart Rhythm
If you have been diagnosed as suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure), there is a good chance that you may be deficient in potassium. Studies have shown that increasing your daily intake of this nutrient can help get your blood pressure readings down by as much as 10 points within a matter of a few weeks because it has the ability to help dilate blood vessels and relax the surrounding muscles. As a result, it can help lower your risk of suffering from a stroke. Potassium plays a crucial role in regulating your heartbeat as well.
Balancing Acid Levels in the Body
The body’s pH levels are usually well-controlled, and severe fluctuations in acidity or alkalinity can become life-threatening. A sufficient intake of potassium helps ensure that the acids created to metabolize food are broken down and neutralized sufficiently. It also helps ensure that calcium is not leeched from the bones. As a result, diets that contain sufficient amounts of potassium will not only help protect against the development of osteoporosis; they can help prevent the development of kidney stones as well.
Providing Balance between Water and Chemicals
Potassium works in conjunction with sodium to help regulate the movement of nutrients and fluids in and out of the cells in the body. This helps prevent the body from becoming dehydrated, while also preventing the cells from bursting or collapsing. In cases where there is too much sodium and not enough potassium for it to work with, fluid levels accumulate in the cells, which is the primary cause of elevated blood pressure levels. As a result, ensuring that sufficient levels of potassium are consumed could help prevent the occurrence of hypertension and/or strokes from occurring.
Ease Muscle Cramps and Promote Bone Health
Being awakened during the night with horrendous cramps in the calf or other muscles is something that most people have experienced. This is normally caused as a result of a lack of potassium in the diet. Potassium works by helping deliver the impulses to the muscles that help them to contract and relax at the right times. A few studies have shown that anyone who consumes a diet that is high in potassium stands a far lower chance of developing osteoporosis as well. This is particularly true of elderly people. It has been suggested that anyone who is suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) can also benefit greatly by increasing their intake of this essential nutrient.
A potassium deficiency in the body can sometimes result in the development of hypoglycemia (excessively low blood sugar levels). This can result in the development of symptoms such as trembling, weakness, severe perspiration and headaches. Ensuring that enough potassium is consumed each day will help prevent this from happening. As a result, it is recommended that anyone who suffers from sudden and unexplained drops in blood sugar levels should consider being tested to determine whether a lack of potassium could be the cause.
Promote Healthy Brain Function
Potassium plays an important part when it comes to maintaining the electrical conductivity of the brain. It is also heavily involved in some of the higher functions of the brain such as learning and retaining memory. Serious health conditions such as epilepsy can be related to faulty potassium channels that occur as a result of a deficiency of this essential mineral. Each of these channels is interconnected and as a result, they help control all of the electrical impulses throughout the body.
Assists with Metabolism
This essential nutrient assists in metabolizing various nutrients such as carbohydrates and fats. As a result, potassium is extremely valuable when it comes to extracting the energy from nutrients that have been consumed by the body. It has also been discovered that potassium is essential when it comes to the synthesis of the proteins which play an active role when it comes to the regeneration of new tissue and cell growth.
Which Foods Contain Potassium?
One of the best food sources that contain the highest amount of potassium is spinach and not the banana like everyone thinks! However, there are many other foods that contain it as well, and these include avocados, potatoes, beans, cantaloupes, tomatoes, apples, raisins, parsley, celery, peas, citrus fruits, cooked spinach and broccoli. It is found in quite a few meat and fish sources as well, including salmon, cod, flounder, chicken, pork beef, venison, lamb, turkey and even rabbit. Lovers of dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt will be pleased to know that this nutrient can be found in them as well.
5 Foods Rich in Potassium
Potassium is a necessary part of any diet because of the many things it helps regulate. All of the following foods are potassium-rich and can easily be incorporated into any diet. You do not have to change your normal routine to add them because they can all be added to current meal plans and preferences. Go on, give it a try. See if your blood pressure improves or your leg cramps disappear as a result.
Each cup of sun-dried tomatoes has more than 1,800 mg of potassium. They are also high in fiber and protein, both of which are good for muscle health. In addition, they are high in vitamin C, which helps keep the immune system functioning properly. You can get some potassium from fresh tomatoes too, although not quite as much. Enjoy them as a salad topping or in delicious pasta recipes.
Dried apricots are an excellent way to satisfy a sweet tooth as well as your need for potassium. One cup of these delicious fruits contains around 1,500 mg of potassium, or about one-third of the daily recommended value. The dried fruit is better than fresh because the nutrients are more concentrated. Certain other high-fiber fruits will have the same effect, if apricots are not on your list of favorite fruits.
One avocado contains about 975 mg of potassium. It contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and is cholesterol-free. Avocados can be used in many different ways, including as a salad topper, to make delicious guacamole, or in milkshakes.
Any type of potato is a good source of potassium, but a medium-sized Russet potato contains about 900 mg of potassium. If consumed with the skin on, potatoes are also rich in iron and fiber. Top your potatoes with some guacamole instead of sour cream and add even more potassium to your diet. Sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium and actually higher than a banana! One medium sweet potato has about 700 mg of potassium with only 150 calories and 0 fat.
Read more about – Yes! Potatoes are Healthy!
Cooked spinach contains at least 800 mg of potassium in just one cup. Leafy greens like bok choy contain about 600 mg when cooked, and other, darker greens have as much potassium or more per cup. With so many leafy greens to choose from, you can rotate them in your diet and never get bored or have a potassium deficiency.
Natural Sources are Best
Too many people make the mistake of popping a supplement pill when they discover that they are deficient in potassium. However, this may not always be the best option. Instead, it is recommended that you do your best to consume at least a few of these foods each day. This will not only help ensure that your potassium levels remain constant; your body will receive many other much-needed vitamins and minerals from the above mentioned foods at the same time.
When it comes to determining how much of these foods to consume each day, it is usually recommended that a palm-sized piece of meat be served in conjunction with 3-5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day.