Minerals Guide – POTASSIUM
Potassium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining healthy blood pressure, nerve function, and muscle contraction. However, many people need more potassium in their diet. Luckily, plenty of delicious and nutritious foods are rich in potassium. Here are 18 potassium-rich foods to add to your diet.
The recommended daily allowance of potassium is 3,500 mg, but some nutritionists say it should be as high as 4,700 mg. In the UK, the upper safe level for long-term use from supplements is 3,700 mg. We will look later on in this article at the kinds of potassium-rich foods that help us achieve this large intake. Potassium supplements must not be taken by anyone on ACE inhibitor medication or who has kidney disease except under medical advice.
Potassium/Sodium Ion Exchange
Potassium is the primary positively charged ion in human cells. In cells, potassium is present in concentrations thirty times greater than in the surrounding extracellular fluid. To achieve this concentration gradient, singly-charged potassium ions, K+, are actively pumped into the cells by ion-exchange mechanisms within the cell walls.
Everything is Electric
Remember, everything in our bodies is electrical in nature, and biochemistry is overall an interplay of charges of varying electrical potentials. So when potassium ions enter cells, similarly charged sodium ions go the other way out of the cells to make room for them. That is one reason we must eat potassium-rich foods.
Why Potassium is Essential for Health
Potassium ions are essential for muscle contraction, especially the heart. They are critical for a properly working nervous system as they participate in nerve conduction. And they are central in the maintenance of blood sugar levels and nucleic acid production. If that isn’t enough, potassium ions play a role in protein synthesis and the production of energy. And that’s another reason why we should source and eat potassium-rich foods.
Potassium and the Kidneys
Kidneys regulate blood potassium levels so that they keep within a relatively narrow range. In addition, because the sodium/potassium ion exchange mechanism in cells also occurs in the kidneys, a good intake of potassium-rich foods helps to flush sodium from cells into the urine for elimination from the body.
High Blood Pressure
Excessive sodium ions in the body are linked to high blood pressure in some people. So, following a diet that is relatively high in potassium and low in sodium is connected to a lower risk of hypertension and stroke. For example, a study showed that 4 out of 5 people taking antihypertensive medication halved their dosage simply by eating more potassium-rich foods.
Effects of Low Potassium Levels
Fortunately, due to the addition of potassium to farm soils via NPK fertilizer (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium), most foods contain some potassium. So, most people don’t need potassium supplementation unless they exercise a lot, like the top athletes. However, low potassium levels are common in people taking diuretics lacking a potassium-sparing effect in the body.
Symptoms of low potassium levels are:
Effects of Excessive Potassium
Excess potassium intake levels are rare as the body controls blood potassium levels quite well. However, people with kidney problems, and those who overdo potassium supplementation, experience irregular heartbeat and muscular fatigue.
Top 18 Potassium-Rich Foods
The top potassium-rich foods are listed below. As mentioned before, the percentage of RDA figures is based on 3,500 mg daily. So, a varied diet is a must if you’re to achieve that figure.
Listed below are the 18 top potassium-rich foods:
Source: NIH Factsheet
Creative Ways To Put Potassium-Rich Foods Into Your Meals
Adding potassium-rich foods to your diet doesn’t have to be tedious or difficult. Instead, get creative with how you incorporate them into your meals! For example, try adding sliced bananas or strawberries to your morning cereal or oatmeal. Use avocado as a spread on your sandwich instead of mayonnaise. Make a delicious smoothie with spinach, banana, and almond milk. And remember roasted sweet potatoes or baked potatoes as a side dish. The possibilities are endless! See also: calcium and magnesium.
The TRC test results on a Sizzling Minerals sample show that each wafer contains 940 mcg of potassium, so there's not that much in there. However, with every refreshing fizzy drink or veggie capsule – there are at least 74 other minerals and trace minerals, which are more important.
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