Potassium is an important mineral and it can affect several critical functions of the body. Thus, you might be interested to know more about the health benefits of potassium and why your nutrition should provide you with sufficient amounts of this mineral.
For instance, you must know that many medications like diuretics (water pills), and blood pressure-lowering medications could affect the blood potassium level. Therefore, if you’re on similar medications, you should find out about your blood potassium level.
A blood potassium level above or under recommended levels can be harmful and sometimes deadly.
Potassium and heart
Do you know the answer to the following question?
Maintaining an acceptable blood potassium level improves which of the following conditions?
What do you think?
In other words, low blood potassium levels could cause higher blood pressure, and high blood potassium levels could lead to lower blood pressure.
According to a study, patients who had a daily potassium intake between 90-120 meq had the largest reduction of blood pressure (7.2 systolic and 4.1 diastolic pressure).
What does systolic and diastolic blood pressure mean?
Systolic blood pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart pumps and contracts. The diastolic blood pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting.
Potassium has other benefits such as keeping the heart rate regular. A variety of heart rhythm problems might develop with a low blood potassium level or hypokalemia, including extra beats and a slow heart rate.
Muscle weakness is another complication of a low blood potassium level. The weakness usually starts in the lower extremities and extends later to the upper extremities.
Potassium and insulin
An undesirable consequence of hypokalemia is its effect on reducing insulin secretion.
Impaired insulin secretion can raise the blood sugar level. Insulin is the hormone that pushes the sugar into the cells.
Clearly, having a normal blood potassium level has many positive effects on the body.
Given the above fact, should you increase your daily potassium intake?
The answer is, maybe.
If you’ve a documented low blood potassium level then you need to increase your potassium intake.
However, if you’ve a high blood potassium level then you should be cautious and avoid adding too much potassium to your diet.
Good functioning kidneys are necessary for regulating the blood potassium level. Thus, maintaining a well-balanced blood potassium level is essential in patients with reduced kidney function.
How much potassium should you take every day?
The recommended daily amount of this mineral for an average adult is 4700 mg per day.
High potassium levels in infants
Did you know that infants have higher blood potassium levels than adults?
Their higher blood potassium level is primarily due to their diminished kidney function and consequently, lower excretion level of this mineral.
Foods high in potassium
|Sweet potatoes, baked||1 potato||694 mg|
|Tomato paste,||¼ cup||664 mg|
|White beans||½ cup||595 mg|
|Lima beans, cooked||½ cup||484 mg|
|Soybeans, green, cooked||½ cup||485 mg|
|Spinach, cooked||½ cup||419 mg|
Patients who have high blood potassium level should avoid or reduce consuming the above foods. However, if your body doesn’t have any issues with regulating this electrolyte, then you should add enough potassium-rich foods to your daily diet.
Don’t forget that knowing about your food is the first step to long-lasting health.
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