Potassium is a critical mineral that functions as an electrolyte in the body. Electrolytes conduct electricity when dissolved in water. Other related electrolyte minerals are sodium and chloride. All 3 work closely together to maintain the balance of body fluids, and regulate muscle contractions and nerve transmissions.
Potassium is also the third most abundant mineral in the body. There is at least twice as much of it as sodium, with 95% of it located inside cells. It works inside the cells, while sodium and chloride work in the fluid around the cells. Excess potassium is removed in urine by the kidneys.
Potassium is a mineral of great importance to the body — in fact, the adult Adequate Intake (AI) for potassium at 4,700 mg is nearly four times that of calcium (at 1,200 mg). While it is widely known that potassium, along with sodium, serves to maintain critical fluid balance within the body, its role in bone health is less well appreciated.
Eating a high potassium diet has excellent health benefits, especially for people afflicted with hypokalemia.This condition,characterized by potassium insufficiency, can lead to diabetes, hypertension, stroke, arthritic or rheumatic conditions, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and intestinal pain. There have been known cases of memory problems and improper functioning of the nervous system due to potassium deficiency. This shows that potassium may also be responsible for regulating muscle function and nerve activity. The mineral also promotes an overall sense of well-being.
Top 13 Health Benefits of Potassium:
- Stroke: Potassium plays an important role in keeping the workings of the brain in a normal state. It is of great importance in preventing the occurrence of stroke in the human brain. It is a fact that a person suffering from this dreadful disease may be found deficient in potassium as an essential body nutrient.
- Low blood sugar: Decrease in potassium level causes a drop in blood sugar level. Decrease in blood sugar level causes sweating, headache, weakness, trembling and nervousness. Intake of potassium chloride and sodium provides immediate relief from this situation.
- Muscle disorders: Potassium plays an important role in regular muscle contraction. The right concentration of potassium is required for regular contraction and relaxation of muscles. Most of the potassium ions of the human body are present inside the muscle cells. They maintain muscle function and optimal nerve function.
- Cramps: Muscle cramps result from lowered levels of potassium in the blood, a condition called hypokalemia. Eating potassium-rich banana every day prevents muscle cramps.
- Brain function: Potassium channels play a key role in maintaining the electrical conductivity of brain and affect the brain function, including higher brain function like memory and learning. Serious ailments like epilepsy are related to the functioning of potassium channels.
- Blood Pressure: Potassium is helpful in reversing the role that sodium plays in unbalancing the normal blood pressure. Potassium acts as a vital component by maintaining the normality of blood pressure in the human body. This further abolishes the possibilities of heart diseases and hypertension. Regulation of blood pressure is an important function of this mineral.
- Anxiety and Stress: Potassium is of great importance for people suffering from undesirable mental states like anxiety and stress. It is considered a perfect stress buster and ensures efficient mental performance.
- Muscular Strength: This is in fact, one of the most appreciable benefits of potassium, as it ensures proper growth of muscle tissues and proper utilization of energy released during metabolism to add significant worth to muscular strength. The muscles, together with cardiac muscle, are prone to paralysis due to deficiency of potassium in diet.
- Metabolism: It assists in the metabolic processes of various nutrients like fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Thus, potassium is of great value in extracting energy from the nutrients we ingest.
- Heart and Kidney Disorders: Including potassium in your diet ensures good health for your heart and kidneys. This mineral assists kidneys to remove waste by the process of excretion. However, it is strictly advisable to consult your doctor to get recommendations about dosage.
- Water Balance: Potassium has another significant role to play in maintaining the desirable water balance in the human body. Some cells require having proper water balance for proper function – potassium aids these cells in regulating this balance.
- Electrolyte: Potassium plays the significant role as an electrolyte in the human body. It helps regulate the level of fluids in the human body and thus performs a number of critical body functions.
- Nervous System: Potassium helps in boosting nerve reflexes to transmit messages from one body part to another. This in turn helps in muscle contraction to perform various activities every day.
Deficiency of any nutrient in the body is not desirable and potassium is no exception. A diet deficient in potassium may lead to symptoms like fatigue and weakness in muscles. Other indications for deficiency of potassium include inactive reflexes, abnormal heartbeat, heart palpitations, anemia and severe headaches. Some people may also experience high blood pressure, pain in intestines, swelling in glands and diabetes as serious effects of this deficiency.
There are many foods with potassium, the richest sources being fruits and vegetables.
High potassium foods · bananas · carrot juice, orange juice, passion-fruit juice, prune juice, tomato juice, coconut water · potatoes (especially the skin) · dried fruit (apricots, figs, dates, prunes, raisins, pistachio), avocado, sweet potato, pumpkin, winter squash.
Other foods with potassium include · blackstrap molasses · brewer’s yeast· legumes (adzuki beans, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, pinto beans) ·dairy products (milk, yogurt) · fennel, garlic, ginger, turmeric · fish (cod, flounder, halibut, salmon, sardines, tuna) · fruits (apricots, avocados, cantaloupe, citrus fruits, durian, kiwi fruit, papaya, passion fruit, peaches, strawberries) · meat and poultry · nuts · peanut butter · soybeans and soy products · vegetables (beet greens, bell pepper, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, cucumber, eggplant, kale, mustard greens, parsley, peas, spinach, tomatoes, winter squash) ·whole grains including brown rice · rice and wheat bran · yam.