As published on Zhou Nutrition
By Shawna Kunselman, MSACN
Studies show that a diet high in potassium can reduce muscle cramping, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of stroke and increase protection against osteoporosis.
Potassium is a mineral critical for many functions in the body. It is essential for maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance as well as providing functions for many of our body’s organs.
Some additional bodily functions dependent on potassium are:
- Building protein
- Maintain normal body growth and build muscles
- Break down and utilization of carbohydrates
- Control electrical activity in the heart
When our potassium levels drop (known as hypokalemia), we can experience varied symptoms. Some of these symptoms can include:
- Heart palpitations
- Weight gain
- Increased Blood pressure
Some common causes of hypokalemia are excessive sweating, diarrhea or vomiting, overusing diuretics, magnesium deficiency, kidney disease, use of certain antibiotics.
Overdose of potassium from food sources is very rare unless one is on dialysis or has another special condition, however be cautious with supplementing and only do so under the supervision of a healthcare provider. Too much potassium in the blood is known as hyperkalemia and it may cause abnormal and dangerous heart rhythms.
Some common causes of hyperkalemia are poor kidney function, certain heart medications known as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin 2 receptor blockers (ARBs), potassium-sparing diuretics or severe infections.
The RDA for potassium in adults is 4700 mg/day.
Here Are Some of the Top Food Choices for Natural and Safe Potassium Sources:
1 whole: 1068 mg
1 cup: 839 mg
3) Dried apricots
½ cup: 755 mg
4) Coconut Water
1 cup 600 mg
5) Tomato Sauce
1 cup: 728 mg
6) Acorn squash
1 cup: 899 mg
7) Sweet potato
1 medium: 952 mg
1 cup: 641 mg
Cogswell ME, Zhang Z, Carriquiry AL, et al. Sodium and potassium intakes among US adults: NHANES 2003-2008. Am J Clin Nutr 2012;96:647-57.
Drewnowski A, Maillot M, Rehm C. Reducing the sodium-potassium ratio in the US diet: a challenge for public health. Am J Clin Nutr 2012; 96:439-44.