Nutrient of Concern
Potassium is an incredibly important nutrient. Without it, the human body would be unable to orchestrate the electrical signals that control muscle function. After reviewing the data, the 2015-2020 “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” calls out potassium as a “nutrient of public health concern” as many Americans do not receive the daily recommended amount in their diets. Seeing as how the classic American diet has evolved to include many nutritionally deficient processed and fast foods, this cannot be much of a surprise.
Those with conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and pica, or those who use diuretics and laxatives are at an increased risk of having low levels. The term hypokalemia is used to describe the condition of having below normal potassium serum levels.
Why It Matters
Potassium intake has been shown to affect the risks of hypertension as well as other cardiovascular concerns. It is a vasodilator, which means that it works to dilate and relax the blood vessels. Too little, could cause blood vessels to constrict. This, in turn, contributes to high blood pressure, or hypertension. Studies have shown that increasing potassium levels helps to lower blood pressure. In the treatment of hypertension, increasing potassium and lowering sodium intake may be an effective approach to reverse high blood pressure.
Potassium has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and kidney stones, while also improving bone health. Have you had your levels tested? It may be time to talk to your doctor about testing and optimizing your levels. The NASEM committee has set “adequate intakes” of potassium for healthy adults over the age of 19 to 2,600 mg for females and 3,400 mg for males. The body naturally excretes some of its stores daily, therefore, the recommended daily intake should be no less than 400-800 mg to replenish what is lost.
Natural Sources of Potassium
There are a variety of potassium-rich foods that you can incorporate into your daily diet. The best approach is to focus on eating real, whole foods versus processed foods that lack nutritional value. Foods such as potatoes, bananas, squash, kidney beans, lentils, and dried apricots are just a few of the foods with higher potassium levels.
We hope that this information on potassium is useful to you.
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Cali Naughton graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington. She joined the marketing team at Empower Brokerage in the spring of 2021 as a marketing specialist and the department photographer.