Potassium is the third-most plentiful mineral in your body, and that’s a really good thing because it’s a mineral that provides numerous healthy benefits for your body. Not only is potassium an electrolyte, one of about a half-dozen that are essential to our well-being, it also serves a multitude of core function that include regulating your body’s balance of fluids while also controlling the heart’s electrical activity, preserving bone mineral intensity, and decreasing the unwanted formation of kidney stones.
The Effects of Potassium Deficiency
It is generally recommended that we ingest 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day, although many adults fail to hit that number in their American diet. That’s why potassium supplementation is so important for our optimal health, easily available thanks to the availability of potassium supplements over the counter. If your body is short on potassium, here are some of the symptoms you might end up contending with, per organicfacts.net and medicalnewstoday.com:
- Muscle weakness
- Slow reflexes
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Heart palpitations
- Severe headaches
- High blood pressure
- Swollen glands
- Muscle pain throughout body
- Muscle spasms
- Painful gut obstructions
- Tingling, numb, itchy sensations in hands, feet, legs, or arms
Food Sources for Potassium
Numerous natural food sources are rich in potassium content, including the following. Notice how common these various foods are – you should have no problem finding any or all of them in your local grocery store. Per medicalnewstoday.com, the amount of potassium in milligrams that is included in one cup of some of the food types is shown in parentheses:
- Avocados (sliced – 708 mg)
- Bananas (537 mg)
- Beet greens (1,309 mg)
- Cantaloupe (417 mg)
- Citrus fruits
- Leafy, green vegetables (such as spinach)
- Lima beans (969 mg)
- Mushrooms (555 mg)
- Nuts (to includes almonds and peanuts)
- Potatoes (baked sweet potato, 950 mg)
- Soy beans (970 mg)
- Tomatoes (427 mg)
- White beans (1,189 mg)
Potassium’s Health Benefits
Purposeful, healthy consumption of potassium-rich foods can benefit our health in a number of areas, such as the following:
- Brain function. Potassium can help promote neural activity by allowing more oxygen to reach the brain, which also means a boost in cognitive function.
- Regulate blood sugar. A drop in blood sugar level resulting from a potassium deficiency can cause sweating, headaches, weakness, trembling, and nervousness, per organicfacts.net. Quick relief can come from potassium chloride and sodium intake.
- Bone health. Potassium can assist in the preservation of calcium by promoting an alkaline environment in the body, thus neutralizing bodily acids that can weaken bones.
- Stabilize blood pressure. Potassium’s vasodilation properties can alleviate blood vessel tension, which is a common source of hypertension, per organicfacts.net.
- Prevent cramping. Muscle cramps are caused by low potassium levels in the blood, producing a condition called hypokalemia. That’s why many sports medicine experts recommend consumption of bananas, whose richness of potassium can ward off cramps.
- Regulate bodily fluid levels. This is where potassium’s status as an electrolyte comes into play, assisting in the maintenance of proper fluid levels, as important in the human body as it is in that car sitting in your garage or driveway.
- Overall body function. Back to the electrolyte aspect. As an electrolyte, potassium can bolster electrical charges from the brain and nervous system, keeping everything humming along operational-wise, per organicfacts.net.