As the third most abundant mineral in the human body, potassium is a vital electrolyte that has many significant health benefits. These benefits should not be overlooked if you wish to maintain your health and wellbeing. Low consumption of fruits and vegetables and an increased intake of heavily salted processed foods have led to a decrease in potassium levels in the U.S. population. According to the National Academies’ Food and Nutrition Board, adequate potassium intake is 4.7 grams (4,700 mg) per day. In the U.S., men generally consume 3 grams per day and women average less than 2.5 grams. Why is potassium important and do we need to increase our daily intake of potassium rich foods?
In addition to promoting an overall sense of wellbeing, potassium is critical for the proper functioning of the human body, supporting heart, brain, kidney and muscle tissue function. Potassium helps to strengthen bones and aids in the maintenance of the electrochemical balance for support of nerve impulses and muscle contractions. A potassium deficiency along with a high sodium diet can lead to diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease and arthritic or rheumatic conditions. Symptoms of fatigue, muscle weakness, abnormal heartbeat or palpitations, high blood pressure, anemia or severe headache are all associated with potassium insufficiency.
Studies show that a high potassium diet, which could include more fruits, vegetables, potatoes, beans, fish, avocados, bananas, coconut water and leafy greens, can address low potassium levels and alleviate or provide significant relief of symptoms. Diets that include potassium rich foods are associated with a decrease in elevated blood pressure, improved kidney function and more efficient vascular function.
- Potassium plays a huge role in maintaining electrical conductivity of the brain, supporting brain function. By aiding in oxygen transport to the brain, potassium helps to stimulate neural activity, aiding cognitive function, memory and learning.
- Heart benefits include a more normalized heartbeat and reduced incidence of arrhythmia and heart attack.
- Potassium aids in stroke prevention by acting as a vasodilator, helping blood flow more freely and relaxing blood vessels.
- Healthy potassium levels have a significant influence on lowered blood pressure, decreasing the risk of stroke in both men and women. Too much sodium and too little potassium can result in elevated blood pressure.
- Potassium stimulates the kidneys to eliminate waste, which aids in maintaining healthy and balanced water and pH levels in the body. Potassium plays a significant role in maintaining optimal fluid balance necessary for efficient cell functioning.
- Potassium helps to enable muscle tissue growth and the utilization of metabolic energy, allowing all muscles, including the heart muscle, to function optimally.
- Regulated fluid levels aid the transmission of electrical charges from the brain and nervous system, supporting organ function and fast and efficient muscle contraction and relaxation.
- Potassium helps to keep blood sugar levels stabilized throughout the body, reducing the chances of insulin spiking and plummeting.
- Potassium aids in hormone regulation including cortisol and adrenaline hormones, which in excess amounts can cause anxiety and chronic stress.
While we can’t underestimate the importance of potassium’s role in health, we can also have too much of a good thing. As excessive potassium intake can affect kidney function, supplementation is best directed by a healthcare professional. However, a diet that includes potassium rich foods and a lowered sodium intake can help keep your heart, brain and body active and functioning at its best.
Excellent choices for supplementation include:Potassium Citrate (M240) by Thorne Research provides 99 mg per capsule of highly absorbable potassium in support of cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, kidney and overall health. Non-GMO formula. Gluten, soy, dairy and wheat free. Potassium-99 by Progena provides 99 mg of potassium as amino acid chelate per tablet. Gluten, soy and wheat free formula. Potassium (citrate) by Pure Encapsulations provides 200 mg of potassium per vegetable capsule for support of bodily functions including nerve, nutrient metabolism, bone, muscle and cardiovascular health. Potassium Citrate by Allergy Research Group provides pure bioavailable potassium citrate in support of optimal health. Gluten and soy free product. 99 mg per capsule.