Health Benefits Of Potassium

Posted by Wen Dan Jiang on

Health Benefits of Potassium

Potassium is one of the sixteen minerals your body needs to regulate optimum health. It is difficult to ignore the importance of potassium in our body as your body requires it for almost everything it does, involving adequate kidney and heart function, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission.

Potassium in supplements comes in plenty of various forms as potassium chloride is a common one, but other types involve potassium citrate, potassium aspartate, potassium bicarbonate, and potassium gluconate. The study hasn't highlighted that any form of potassium is better than the others. Whatever the type, most dietary pills offer only small quantities of potassium, no more than 98 mg each serving.

In this article, we will discuss potassium health benefits, food sources, risks or precautions, and many more. Don't miss any important detail and read till the end!

What Is Potassium?

Potassium is a mineral available in the foods you consume. It is also an electrolyte. Electrolyte conducts electrical impulses throughout your body. They help in a range of essential body functions, involving;

  • Regulating blood pressure
  • Improving average water balance
  • Control muscle contractions
  • Nerve impulses
  • Digestion
  • Heart rhythm
  • Controlling pH balance (acidity and alkalinity)

Your body doesn't form potassium naturally. Therefore, it's significant to take the correct balance of potassium- high foods and drinks. Choosing a low amount of potassium may cause serious health problems. However, consuming too much can lead to temporary or long-term health issues.

Healthy kidneys regulate average potassium levels in your body as they eliminate excessive quantities through urine.

Relationship between Sodium and Potassium

It is most common to hear about the fact that potassium has some relationship to sodium, another electrolyte that aids in maintaining fluid and blood volume in your body. That is because all of these two minerals may offset the impact of each other, with a lot of one reducing the amount of the other. It can cause a lot of potential adverse health effects.

There is a strong relationship between taking too much sodium plus higher blood pressure.  People of the USA take, on average, approximately 3,300 mg of sodium daily, mostly from consuming packaged and restaurant food.

On the other hand, the Dietary Guidelines for USA people suggest reducing sodium consumption to less than 2,200 mg daily—a quantity equal to approximately one teaspoon of salt.

The combination of taking a high amount of sodium and having minute potassium in your diet is linked to higher blood pressure.

Minimizing sodium and enhancing potassium in the diet may aid in controlling hypertension and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Therefore, connected is the relationship between these two that the FDA determined that food which comprises of at least 340 mg of potassium are allowed to say on their label; "Diets containing foods that are rich sources of potassium and low in sodium can minimize the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

Health Benefits of Potassium

  1. Fluid Balance

The human body has almost 60% water. Body cells contain 40% of this water in a fluid known as intracellular fluid (ICF). In a fluid called extracellular fluid (ECF) has the remaining water content. This includes blood, spinal fluid, and fluid among cells.

The quantity of water in ICF and ECF is affected by the concentration of electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Potassium is the most crucial electrolyte in the ICF, and it regulates the water content within the cells.

Osmolality is the number of electrolytes relative to the amount of fluid. Under normal circumstances, osmolality is the same inside and outside of cells. However, when osmolality is not the same, water from the area of lower electrolytes will move to the side of higher electrolytes.

This can result in shrinkage of cells as water flows out of them and burst as water flows into them. Therefore, it is essential to take a proper amount of electrolytes, especially potassium.

 A right fluid balance is necessary for proper health. Poor fluid balance can cause dehydration, which ultimately affects the heart and kidneys.

Taking potassium-rich meals and maintaining proper hydration can regulate fluid balance.

  1. Muscle and Heart Contractions

The nervous system controls muscle contractions. Change in potassium level has a direct effect on the nervous system, so a change in its level can cause the weakening of muscle contractions. Both low and high levels can be dangerous as it can change the voltage of nerve cells.

Potassium is an essential mineral for the maintenance of heart health as it plays a vital role in the regulation of heartbeat. When its level enhances, the heart can dilate and becomes flaccid. This can affect its contractions and cause abnormal heartbeat.

Similarly, low levels can also affect the heartbeat. When the heartbeat changes, there is an effect on the pumping of blood to the brain, muscles, and organs. Sometimes, the abnormal heartbeat can cause sudden death of the patient.

  1. Blood Pressure

A blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or more is known as hypertension. Taking a high quantity of salts in the diet can result in hypertension. A high level of salt causes kidneys to hold more water. This excess water is a burden on organs and arteries, which is a reason for hypertension. It can lead to heart diseases and, sometimes, death.

Potassium can decrease blood pressure by balancing the adverse effects of salt. Potassium can cause relaxation of the walls of the vessels, which in turn lower the blood pressure. Hypertension can cause many heart diseases.

A study shows that eating fruits which contain potassium can decrease the risk of heart diseases. These include grapefruit, mushrooms, and bananas.

  1. Kidney stones

Kidney stones are clumps that are produced by concentrated urine. Kidney stones are prevalent among people between the ages of 35 and 60. These stones cause much pain. If a person neglects it, he can suffer a great deal. Calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate are the most common type of stones.

A low level of potassium can also cause the formation of kidney stones. Therefore higher (optimal) potassium level can reduce the risk of kidney stones. Potassium citrate minimizes the formation of kidney stones. Thus potassium prevents the formation of kidney stones.

In a four year study in almost 45,700 men, scientists observed that people with high potassium intake had a 50% reduced risk of kidney stones. Likewise, in a 12-year study among 91,730 women, scientists say that those women who had the highest levels of potassium in diet had a 36% decreased risk of kidney stones.

  1. Bone Mineral Density

Nutrition is the main factor that has a direct effect on bone health. The quantity of mineral found in your bones is called bone mineral density. According to a study taking a proper dose of potassium through diet has a positive impact on bone mineral density in both men and women (postmenopausal women).

Potassium is involved in muscle contraction, which is responsible for the efficient working of skeletal muscles. Its low levels can disturb the muscles of your body, and This can cause weakness of muscles and even cramps. This is a painful condition. A study showed that women with very severe cramps had low amounts of potassium in food.

  1. Type 2 Diabetes

Lower potassium levels can be linked to enhanced rates of fasting glucose, insulin resistance, and type 2-diabetes. This is because potassium is required for the release of insulin from the pancreas. Decreased levels of potassium can lower insulin secretion and cause glucose intolerance.

Plenty of observational studies of individuals have discovered links between reduced potassium consumptions or minimized serum or urinary potassium levels and enhanced rates of fasting glucose, insulin resistance, and diabetes. The possible mechanism may be this mineral is required for insulin secretion from pancreatic cells; very little potassium may impair insulin secretion and may cause glucose intolerance.

However, this link hasn't been adequately evaluated in clinical trials. In one small clinical trial in 28 African American people with prediabetes and reduced adequate serum potassium levels, supplementation with 1,56o mg potassium for almost two months effectively decreased fasting glucose levels. Still, it didn't influence glucose or insulin measures during a glucose tolerance test.

While the results are optimistic, more studies are required to confirm potassium's association with blood glucose control and type-2 diabetes.

  1. The Nervous System

The nervous system is the system of responsiveness. It transfers messages from brain to body and vice versa. These messages are sent as nerve impulses and maintain muscle contractions, reflexes heartbeat, and so many other functions. These impulses are formed by sodium ions going inside and potassium ions going outside the cells. As a result of this movement, the voltage of cell alters, and a nerve impulse is formed.

A minimized level of potassium can damage the generation of nerve impulses. Taking the right amounts of potassium is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system.

  1. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become hollow and very much porous. It is related to decreased calcium level, which is necessary for healthy and strong bones. It has been observed that the intake of potassium-rich diet can reduce the risk of osteoporosis by preventing the loss of calcium through urine.

In a study of 60 healthy women (middle-aged women), scientists observed that people who took a potassium-rich diet had the highest bone density. In another study with 1000 healthy premenopausal women, scientists say that those who too high levels of potassium in diet had an excellent bone mass in their hip bone and lower back.

  1. Stroke

It takes place when blood flow is deficient in the brain. So many studies have shown that a diet with high levels of potassium can prevent strokes. In an analysis of 30 studies with 128,650 participants, scientists observed that people who ate much potassium had a 25% reduced risk of stroke than people who didn't take much.

  1. May Improve Cardiovascular Health

Low potassium consumption has been associated with high blood pressure and cardiovascular disorder. Regulating low sodium consumption is essential to reducing blood pressure, but making sure a reasonable use of this mineral may be just as significant.

Maximized potassium consumption, along with a reduction in sodium is critical to minimizing your risk of cardiovascular disease.

In one research, those who took 1200 mg of potassium daily had a 48 % reduced risk of death from ischemic heart disorder compared with those who took approximately 1,000 mg regularly.

  1. May Helpful for Muscle Maintenance

Potassium-high food sources regulate an alkaline environment in your body, unlike in acidosis. Metabolic acidosis is caused by a diet full of acidifying food sources like meat, dairy items, and processed cereal grains. Acidosis is a result of the ordinarily acidic Western diet.

It may lead to nitrogen excretion, reducing bone mineral density, and muscle wasting. A diet rich in potassium may aid in preserving muscle mass in older adults, and also during conditions that tend to cause muscle wasting, like diabetic ketosis. However, proper potassium consumption may help prevent this.

One research discovered that people that consumed in 5,265 mg of potassium daily maintained an average of 3.5 more pounds of lean tissue mass than people with potassium consumption 50 % lower. Some studies also highlight increased bone density with abundant potassium consumption.

Sources of Potassium

Potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte of your body.  The proper dose of potassium is 4700 mg in healthy people. However, many people can't get the required amount of potassium through food.

Following are the significant sources of potassium:

  • Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a rich source of potassium. A medium-sized sweet potato has 540 mg of potassium. These have a low amount of fats, small quantity of protein, and are significantly enriched with complex carbohydrates.

  • Watermelon

It is a big fruit with the highest quantity of water. Only two pieces of watermelon (almost 1/8 of a melon or 570 grams) will provide you with 650 mg of potassium, only in 13% of the Al (1,10). The same amount of watermelon has 45 grams of carbohydrates, 3.4 grams of protein, and 0.9 grams of fat.

  • Salmon

Salmon is also one of the richest sources of potassium, and It contains 628 mg of potassium per 100 grams. It contains 690 mg of potassium per 200 calories.

  • Avocados

Avocado is another rich source of potassium. It has 485 mg of potassium per 100 grams and 606 mg of potassium per 200 calories.

  • White Beans

These can be navy (pea) beans, lima beans, or cannellini (white beans). A single cup (179 grams) of these beans has a double quantity of potassium as one banana. Broad white beans have 561 mg of potassium per 100 grams,  One cup of cooked white beans provides 829 mg of potassium. One cup also gives 29 to 61% of the RDI for different B vitamins.

These are remarkably versatile and can be taken with diet so quickly such ingredients of the salad. You can order them online.

  • Beet

Beets also contain high levels of potassium. One cup (170 grams) of beets has 518 mg of potassium or 11% of RDI (10). Beets also have a large quantity of folate and manganese. The potassium in beets also improves the function of blood vessels. It also minimizes the risk of heart diseases.

  • Spinach

One cup (180 grams) of cooked spinach gives almost 18% of the RDI for potassium. It is the best source for those who want to increase their intake of potassium through a natural diet.

  • Potatoes

It is a staple food in a large number of countries all over the world. One potato (136 grams) can give 515 mg of potassium, almost 11% of the Al (1, 18). Even a study suggested that vegetables are the best source of potassium. A small baked potato has 738 mg of potassium or almost 16% of the Al (1, 19). Different kinds of vegetables have varying amounts of potassium, which depends upon the soil in which they are produced.

As potatoes are taken in the diet daily in many areas of the world, they can be a rich source of potassium intake.

  • Swiss Chard

It is a leafy green vegetable. It is enriched with so many nutrients. One cup (175 grams) of cooked Swiss chard has 21% of the RDI for potassium.

Potassium Supplements

Due to the primary role this mineral plays in your body, it is significant that your blood potassium levels keep within a narrow range. Although receiving potassium from your diet is highly recommendable, but if you are doing a heavy workout or don't eat adequate potassium-rich food daily, it may make sense to consume supplemental potassium depending upon the amount you needed.

However, it's not suggested that you consume potassium pills without first consulting with your doctor and healthcare provider. Blood levels of this mineral are tightly regulated by your body, most significantly by your kidneys. But when your kidneys aren't working adequately, whether due to age, diabetes, heart issue, or some other health conditions, potassium levels may rise to high standards, causing severe heart rhythm issues and even cardiac arrest.

Due to this main danger, the Food and Drug Administration minimizes over-the-counter potassium dietary supplements to less than 90 mg, a mere 2 % of the suggested regular amount. For exact reasons, you should speak to your physician before initiating a rich-potassium diet or taking its supplements.

Treating Imbalanced Potassium Levels

There are various remedies for imbalanced potassium levels that rely on if your levels are high or low.

  • Hypokalemia (low)

Potassium supplements are initially used for low levels. These are most efficient if your kidneys are in proper shape. Severe hypokalemia may need IV treatment, particularly if you are feeling an irregular heartbeat.

Potassium-sparing diuretics may help your body to eliminate excess sodium.  It may aid normalize electrolyte levels. However, certain diuretics or potassium formulas can be dangerous for the digestive tract.

Speak to a doctor for wax-coated supplements to aid in preventing digestive problems. Only individuals with normal kidney function may utilize potassium-sparing diuretics.

  • Hyperkalemia (high)

In some situations, hyperkalemia may be cured with prescription drugs that enhance potassium excretion. Other techniques involve diuretics or an enema.

Serious scenes may need more complicated treatments; however, Kidney dialysis may eliminate potassium. This treatment is necessary for kidney failure.

For individuals having healthy kidneys, a physician may suggest insulin and glucose—these aid in transporting this mineral from your blood to cells for elimination.

An albuterol inhaler may reduce harmfully high levels. Calcium gluconate may be utilized temporarily to regulate your heart and minimize the risk of severe heart complications from hyperkalemia.

Why Do People Take Potassium?

The majority of people who eat a healthy diet must obtain an adequate amount of potassium naturally. Low potassium is linked to a risk of high blood pressure, heart disorder, stroke, cancer, digestive issues, and infertility. For people with low potassium, doctors sometimes recommend improved diets -- or dietary potassium supplements to stop or treat some of these health conditions.

Its deficiencies are more common in individuals who;

  • Utilize specific medicines, like diuretics
  • Have physically demanding work
  • Exercising in hot climates and sweating intensely
  • Have an eating problem
  • Smoke
  • Have health conditions that influence their digestive absorption, like Crohn's disease
  • Abuse alcohol or drugs

How Much Potassium Should You Take?

The Institute of Medicine has established a proper consumption of this mineral. Getting this quantity of this mineral from the diet, with or without pills, must be adequate to keep you healthy. The FDA has explained that foods that comprise at least 340 milligrams of potassium can bear the following label; Diets containing foods that are rich sources of it and low in sodium may minimize the risk of high blood pressure and stroke."Always consume potassium pills with a glass of water or juice.

There is no designed upper limit for this mineral. Therefore it is not clear exactly how much potassium you can consume safely. However, very rich doses of potassium can be deadly.

What Are The Risks of Consuming It?

  • Side effects

High doses of potassium may be harmful. You should not consume its supplements without speaking to your doctor and medical health care provider. At average doses, it usually is safe. Potassium may lead to a nervous stomach. Some individuals have allergies to potassium pills.

Other possible drawbacks are;

  • Muscle weakness or numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Cardiac conduction abnormalities
  • Cardiac arrhythmias involving sinus bradycardia or sinus arrest
  • Slow idioventricular rhythms
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Ventricular fibrillation
  • Asystole
  • Warnings

People with kidney disorder, type 2-diabetes, heart disorder, Addison's condition, stomach ulcers, or other health issues must never consume its capsules without consulting to a doctor and physician first.

  • Overdose

Symptoms of a potassium overdose involve muscle stiffness or paralysis, abnormal heartbeat, improper thinking, numbness or tingling sensation in your hands or limbs, reduced blood pressure, and even coma. You should call for an emergency medical aid instantly if you feel any easiness after taking its overdose.

Final Words

Potassium is one of the essential minerals in your body. It aids in regulating fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve signals. There are plenty of health benefits associated with potassium mineral-like improving your bone health, get rid of several health conditions, regulating heartbeat, and many more. So, you cannot ignore potassium from your diet.

A rich-potassium diet may aid in reducing blood pressure and water retention, offer safety from stroke, and may also get rid of the risk of osteoporosis and kidney stones. But very few individuals obtain an adequate amount of this mineral. To receive more in your diet, eat plenty of potassium-high foods, like beet greens, kale, and salmon, etc.

Potassium supplements are also available in the market, but before taking them, speak to your physician first to avoid any health issues or side effects!

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