Potassium is an essential nutrient with wide plethora of health benefits. It takes part in many bodily processes and it is critical for improving the overall health. Some of its major benefits include preventing and treating stroke, hypertension, kidney disorders, anxiety, and stress as well as promoting healthy nervous system, water balance, healthy metabolism, and muscle strength.
Intake of Potassium
The recommended potassium intake is 4g daily, but the average man in North American gets about 3 g and the average woman less than 2.5 g of potassium daily. Given that the body excretes potassium in the urine easily, most people benefit from boosting their potassium intake.
Low potassium levels are associated with many health problems, such as high blood pressure, salt sensitivity, compromised bone health, and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Chronically low potassium levels may lead to heart arrhythmias, muscle cramps, stomach problems, fatigue, weakness, and glucose intolerance.
Health Benefits of Potassium
Helps Prevent Stroke
Potassium maintains healthy brain function and high potassium levels in the body allow more oxygen to reach the brain, increase cognitive function, and stimulate neural activity. Given that it acts as vasodilator, potassium relaxes the blood vessels and allows more blood to flow around without any risk of clots and strokes.
Aids Blood Pressure Levels
Due to its vasodilating properties, potassium relieves tension in the blood vessels, which is known as one of the major causes of hypertension. It keeps sodium levels in check too, which then helps regulate blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease.
Boosts Brain Function
Potassium helps maintain electrical conductivity in the brain, which in turn helps regulate electrical currents through the entire body. It improves brain functions like learning and memory, while potassium deficiency is associated with serious problems like epilepsy.
Manages Anxiety & Stress
Potassium is known as potent stress buster which promotes optimal mental performance. It is extremely beneficial for those suffering from anxiety, stress, and other mental issues. High potassium intake regulates countless hormones in the body, such as cortisol and adrenaline.
Heart & Kidney Disorders
This essential mineral has a critical role in keeping the heart and kidneys functioning optimally as well as in aiding the kidneys in the removal of toxic matter. However, it is recommended to consult a doctor regarding the right dose, as potassium may cause the body to absorb more calcium than needed, which eventually leads to kidney problems.
Promotes Bone Health
Due to its ability to neutralize acids in the body and preserve calcium, potassium promotes bone strength and durability, extending the life of your bones!
Workout & Weight Loss Benefits
Builds Muscle Strength
Potassium plays critical role in regular muscle contraction, meaning that appropriate potassium intake promotes regular contraction and relaxation of the muscles. Muscle training and any type of exercise would be impossible without muscle contractions and relaxation. As an added bonus, potassium helps prevent muscle cramps, too.
Water Balance & Electrolytes
Water balance is the key to optimal health, which is the reason why experts recommended eating bananas after a workout. Losing electrolytes through sweating can be replenished by eating potassium-rich foods like bananas. Potassium is the most important electrolytes, followed by calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and chloride.
It has been scientifically shown that potassium is of utmost importance for the synthesis of proteins, which affect tissue regeneration, metabolism, and cell growth.
Sources of Potassium
Potassium-rich foods include:
- White beans
- Dark leafy greens
- Baked potatoes
- Dried apricots
- Winter squash