Potassium Health Benefits

lady eating banana

Potassium comes in several different varieties –- it's most common form is potassium chloride.

Potassium is an essential mineral whose primary job is to help maintain fluid balance on either side of cells. Potassium is the predominant positive electrolyte in the bodies cells.

An enzyme called adenosine triphosphate controls the flow of potassium and sodium into and out of cells to maintain normal function of the heart, brain, muscles and kidneys.

By maintaining fluid balance within cells, this electrolyte works together with sodium in order to transmit messages on behalf of the nervous system.

These messages are called nerve impulses which among other things, help to regulate the contraction of muscles.

Of course, two of the main benefits of potassium is to help regulate blood pressure and heart function.

Here are some of the benefits of potassium:

• Promotes regular heartbeat;
• Promotes regular muscle contraction;
• Helps prevent high blood pressure;
• Regulates transfer of nutrients to cells;
• Maintains water balance in body tissues and cells;
• Preserves or restores cells, kidneys, stomach juice secretion;
• Treats potassium deficiency from illness or taking diuretics, cortisone drugs or digitalis preparations.

Other possible benefits include:

• May help with alcoholism;
• May help with acne;
• Possible help with allergies;
• Possible help with heart disease;
• May help heal burns.

Potassium also assists in the conversion of glucose to glycogen and the synthesis of muscle protein from amino acids.

Potassium has a very important role in helping the body convert macro nutrients into muscle building material and muscle fuel. A very important benefit for those of us who are into weight training and building muscle.

Athletes and workers who participate in vigorous physical activities (such as weight lifting and building muscle), especially when endurance is an important aspect of the activity;

• People who take diuretics, cortisone drugs or digitalis preparations;

• Anyone with inadequate caloric or nutritional dietary intake or increased nutritional requirements;

• People over 55 years of age;

• Pregnant or breast feeding woman;

• Woman taking oral contraceptives;

• People who abuse alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs;

• People with chronic wasting illness;

• Those under excess stress for long periods;

• Anyone who has undergone surgery;

• Those with part of the gastrointestinal tract surgically removed;

• People with malabsorption disorders;

• Those with recent severe burns or injuries;

• Vegetarians

High Potassium Foods

Certain foods that are high in potassium will help you attain the optimal amount of potassium in your diet. The recommended daily allowance for potassium is about 3,500 mg.

For those of you who do a lot of exercising, you will need more potassium than the sedentary individual. As active weight trainers, I'm assuming you sweat quite a bit when you workout.

Since you lose a lot of potassium through sweating, you will need more potassium than the average person. I strongly suggest you try and get your potassium needs met with the food you eat.

By consuming potassium rich foods, you get the added benefit of food synergy which is much more effective than supplements alone.

As long as you eat potassium rich foods on a consistent basis, you should be able to reap the health benefits. Remember, most food labels now have a potassium line item so you can see how much potassium you are getting with each serving.

The following foods are considered food high in protein. If you do a lot of working out, than you may want to include some of these high potassium foods in your diet.

Here is a partial list:

• Apricots
• Lima beans
• Asparagus
• Molasses
• Avocados
• Nuts
• Bananas
• Parsnips
• Beans
• Dry peas and beans
• Cantaloupe
• Potatoes
• Carrots
• Raisins
• Chard
• Sardines
• Citrus fruit
• Spinach
• Juices (grapefruit, tomato, orange)
• Whole grain cereal
• Stewed tomatoes
• Milk
• Flounder
• Catfish
• Trout
• Cod
• Green beans
• Peaches
• Prunes and prune juice
• Pumpkin
• Winter squash
• Yogurt
• Lean pork
• Lean veal

Now, if you are on a potassium restrictive diet, you may want to try and stay away from these high potassium foods.

Certain foods contain only small amounts of potassium. These types of foods give less electrolyte properties per serving for individuals who need an increased level of potassium. Individuals with kidney problems or other illness may cause you to have too much potassium in your system.

In this case, you may need to limit the amount of potassium you ingest. You will need to consult with your doctor to find out the kinds of food low in potassium you will need to include in your daily menu.

Food low in potassium will generally have less than 125 mg per serving.

Here is a small list of low potassium foods:

• Blueberries
• Cabbage
• Apples
• Cucumber
• Grapes
• Cranberry juice
• Peppers
• Iceberg lettuce
• Mushrooms
• Plums
• Canned oranges (such as mandarins)
• Pineapples

Food labels now have a potassium listing on their nutritional content. To find out the potassium serving of certain foods, simply look at the label to see if each serving is 125 mg or less. This will indicate whether or not the food is low in potassium.

All the best


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