Sizzling Minerals for you and your pets

Minerals Guide – POTASSIUM

Apricots – Potassium-rich foods

Potassium-rich Foods

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.

Potassium RDA

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:

  • Poor appetite: when you’re not hungry or simply feeling FULL. No longer enjoying the taste, sight, or smell of food – food aversion.
  • Fatigue: a lack of energy coupled with drowsiness and apathy.
  • Low blood sugar levels: this is called hypoglycemia. It happens when the blood sugar level (glucose) plunges very low. Solution: consume some carbs.
  • Muscle cramping (1)a sudden, unexpected tightening of a muscle. Muscle cramps can be excruciating, especially in a calf muscle at night. Cramps last for seconds to minutes. Ouch! After the cramp eases (you need to get out of bed and stand on the affected leg, stretching the affected muscle to relieve the nasty pain) the affected area might be sore for hours or days, depending on the cramping severity.
  • Muscle Cramping (2): Eating potassium-rich foods to the RDA level should cut these horrible, debilitating, and sleep-denying episodes right down, if not forever. Exercising or working too hard in a hot environment can also lead to painful muscle cramps. When playing extra time, a few fit soccer players collapse in agony with leg cramps. So maybe they should have a quick potassium-rich drink in the short break after the 90 minutes whistle. A cup of prune juice has 700 mg of potassium; a cup of orange has 500 mg.
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat: known as arrhythmia, abnormal heart rhythm is caused by faulty electrical impulses leading to an intermittent slow or fast heartbeat. Eating more potassium-rich foods should fix the problem.
  • Constipation: the difficulty in emptying the bowels. Hardened stools are usually associated with this disorder. It’s caused by the large intestine (colon) absorbing too much water. Potassium deficiency is one of the causes.
  • Pins and needles: a pricking or tingling sensation in the feet, hands, arms, legs, or buttocks as a result of easing numbness. Numbness builds when the blood supply to a nerve is cut off caused by pressure on that part of the body. The pins and needles come when the blood supply returns and restores the movement of potassium ions. It’s an electrical effect. No amount of potassium intake will stop you from leaning on a limb!
  • Drowsiness: a tendency to sleep during the day caused by potassium deficiency.

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

Raisins – 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:

  • Apricots: dried, ½ cup 755 mg or 22 percent of the RDA
  • Lentils: 1 cup 731 mg or 21 percent of the RDA
  • Acorn Squash: mashed, 1 cup 644 mg or 19 percent of the RDA
  • Prunes: ½ cup 635 mg or 18 percent of the RDA; One cup of prune juice has 707 mg of potassium
  • Raisins: ½ cup 618 mg or 17.5 percent of the RDA
  • Potato: baked, one medium 610 mg or 17.5 percent of the RDA; if you eat at two of these: 1,220 mg or about of the RDA. French fries have 357 mg potassium per standard serving.
  • Kidney beans: 1 cup 607 mg or 17.4 percent of the RDA
  • Orange juice, 1 cup 496 mg or 14 percent of the RDA
  • Soybeans: mature ½ cup 443 mg or 12.6 percent of the RDA
  • Banana: medium 422 mg or 12 percent of the RDA
  • Milk, skimmed 1 cup 366 mg or 12 percent of the RDA; drink a pint, and you’ll be getting 1,100 mg or 31 percent of the RDA
  • Spinach: raw, 2 cups 334 mg
  • Chicken breast: 3 ounces 332 mg
  • Yogurt: low-fat, 6 ounces 330 mg
  • Salmon, Atlantic, farmed 3 ounces 326 mg
  • Beef: sirloin 3 ounces 315 mg
  • Molasses: 1 tbs 308 mg
  • Tomato: 1 medium 292 mg; eat three or so of these to get 876 mg or 25 percent of the RDA

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.

Synonymous terms: potassium rich foods; examples of potassium rich foods; the most potassium rich foods

See also: selenium; silicon; zinc

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