Potassium is a very important mineral for the proper function of all cells, tissues, and organs in the human body. It is also an electrolyte, a substance that conducts electricity in the body, along with sodium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium. Potassium is crucial to heart function and plays a key role in skeletal and smooth muscle contraction, making it important for normal digestive and muscular function. Potassium is one of the seven essential macro minerals, along with calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride, and sulfur.
The Oregon State University recommends an intake of 4700 milligrams per day in adults. They also state that people do not get nearly the recommended amount daily. Humans use to consume a diet high in potassium, until recently with the increasing consumption of processed foods, which potassium is removed from, humans are not receiving the daily recommended amount. If you are eating a lot of processed foods, you may consider supplements, but always ask your doctor first.
Medical News Today says that for individuals with healthy kidneys, excess amounts of potassium are efficiently excreted in urine with no adverse side effects. There have been a small number of reports of potassium toxicity associated with an extremely high intake of potassium supplements. No potassium toxicity has ever been reported related to food consumption. Medical News today also stated that consuming too much potassium can be harmful to those whose kidneys are not fully functional. Some sports supplements and salt substitutes contain high levels of potassium, which have been linked to two cases of cardiac arrest. If your kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, it could be fatal due to the effects of potassium on the heart.
A studies conducted at the Cardiac and Vascular Sciences, St George’s, University of London, Cranmer Terrace, London, UK., and the Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA., state a diet rich in potassium has shown health benefits in lowering blood pressure in individuals with both raised blood pressure and average population blood pressure, increasing potassium intake reduces cardiovascular disease mortality. The study also stated that a high-potassium diet may also prevent or at least slow the progression of renal disease. Reduced serum potassium increases the risk of lethal ventricular arrhythmias in patients with ischemic heart disease, heart failure and left ventricular hypertrophy, and increasing potassium intake may prevent this. The best way to increase potassium intake is to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Bone Health – Studies on bone health have shown that a diet rich in potassium may play a role in preventing osteoporosis in an elderly woman. A study showed that an increased potassium intake lowers urinary calcium excretion and plays an important role in the management of hypercalciuria and kidney stones and is likely to decrease the risk of osteoporosis
Hypokalemia – Having low potassium is called Hypokalemia, which includes weakness, lack of energy, muscle cramps, stomach disturbances, an irregular heartbeat, and an abnormal EKG (electrocardiogram, a test that measures heart function). Hypokalemia usually happens when the body loses too much potassium in the urine or intestines.
Heart Disease – There have been studies in heart disease that have shown that people with a higher sodium-potassium ratio have a higher risk of heart disease.
IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease) – People with IBD (Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn Disease) often have trouble absorbing nutrients from their intestines, and may have low levels of potassium and other important nutrients. If are suffering from IBD, your doctor may recommend a supplement after checking your potassium levels.
Brain Function – UC Davis did a study showing that potassium channels play a key role in maintaining the electrical conductivity of the brain and dramatically affect brain function. And that brain cell activity is diminished when potassium channels are open. Closed channels lead to an increase in neuron excitability.
Electrolytes – Potassium has electrolytes which are great for keeping healthy levels of fluids in the body which is critical for your body to function. Electrolytes help to transmit electrical charges from the nervous system and brain.
Nervous System – Potassium helps to boost the efficiency of nerve reflexes that transmit a message from one body part to another.
Metabolism – Potassium helps the metabolic processing of various nutrients like fats and carbohydrates. Which means potassium is great at extracting the energy from the nutrients that are consumed.
Anxiety and Stress – Potassium can help regulate hormones in the body including stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
Diabetes – Low serum potassium is strongly related to glucose intolerance, and increasing potassium intake may prevent the development of diabetes that occurs with prolonged treatment with thiazide diuretics.
Foods that are rich in potassium
Yogurt, low fat, plain