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Everything You Need to Know About Potassium

Potassium is one of the seven essential macrominerals. The human body requires at least 100 milligrams of potassium daily to support key processes.

A high potassium intake reduces the risk of overall mortality by 20 percent. It also decreases the risk of stroke, lowers blood pressure, protects against loss of muscle mass, preserves bone mineral density, and reduces the formation of kidney stones.

The primary functions of potassium in the body include regulating fluid balance and controlling the electrical activity of the heart and other muscles.

This MNT Knowledge Center article provides an in-depth look at recommended intake of potassium, its possible health benefits, reliable sources of potassium, the effects of consuming too much or too little potassium, and any potential health risks of consuming potassium.

Fast facts on potassium

  • Adults should be consuming 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium a day. However, fewer than two percent of people in the U.S. consume enough potassium.
  • Potassium supports blood pressure, cardiovascular health, bone strength, and muscle strength.
  • Beet greens, white beans, soy beans, and lima beans are the foods highest in potassium.
  • Potassium deficiency can lead to fatigue, weakness, and constipation. It can escalate to paralysis, respiratory failure, and painful gut obstructions.
  • Hyperkalemia means that there is too much potassium in the blood, and this can also impact health.
  • Potassium is available in supplements, but dietary sources are most healthful.

Recommended intake

Potassium is a crucial nutrient, and a very small percent of people in the U.S. consume enough.
The Adequate Intake recommendation for potassium is 4,700 milligrams (mg) per day for adults. Most adults do not meet this recommendation.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) also reported that less than two percent of people in the U.S. meet the daily 4,700-mg potassium requirement. Women consume less potassium than men on average.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommend an intake of 3,510 mg per day and agree that most of the global population is not meeting this recommendation.

Potassium supplements are available. However, it is best to obtain any vitamin or mineral through food. It is not individual vitamins or minerals that make certain foods important for healthful living, but the combined efforts of a range of nutrients.

Benefits

Potassium carries proven health benefits.

It is an electrolyte that counteracts the effects of sodium, helping to maintain consistent blood pressure. Potassium is also important for maintaining the balance of acids and bases in the body. Bases are alkalis that have not yet dissolved in water.

Blood pressure and cardiovascular health

Low potassium intake has repeatedly been linked with high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential to lowering blood pressure, but ensuring a good intake of potassium may be just as important.

An increase in potassium intake along with a decrease in sodium is crucial to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

In one study, those who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium per day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed about 1,000 mg per day.

Bone and muscle maintenance

Potassium-rich foods maintain an alkaline environment in the body, unlike in acidosis. Metabolic acidosis is triggered by a diet full of acidifying foods like meat, dairy products, and processed cereal grains. Acidosis is a common outcome of the typically acidic Western diet.

Acidosis can cause nitrogen excretion, loss in bone mineral density, and muscle wasting. A diet high in potassium can help preserve muscle mass in older people, as well as during conditions that tend to lead to muscle wasting, such as diabetic ketosis. However, a sufficient potassium intake can help prevent this.

One study found that participants that took in 5,266 milligrams of potassium per day maintained an average of 3.6 more pounds of lean tissue mass than those with a potassium intake 50 percent lower. Some studies also show an increase in bone density with high potassium intake.

Foods high in potassium

White beans are among the most potassium-rich foods, as are many other types of bean.
Potassium is found in many whole, unprocessed foods.

Some of the best sources of potassium are fresh leafy greens, avocados, tomatoes, potatoes, and beans. Processing greatly reduces the amount of dietary potassium. A diet high in processed foods is probably low in potassium.

Many processed foods are also high in sodium. As sodium consumption rises, increased potassium is needed to cancel out the effect of sodium on blood pressure.

Here is a table showing the nutritional benefit provided by one cup of the most potassium-rich foods.

Food type (1 cup)                     Amount of potassium provided in milligrams (mg)
Cooked, boiled, or drained beet greens, without salt 1,309
Canned white beans 1,189
Cooked, boiled, or drained soy beans, without salt 970
Cooked, boiled, or drained lima beans, without salt 969
Baked sweet potato 950
Sliced avocado 708
Cooked, boiled, or drained mushrooms, without salt 555
Sliced banana 537
Red, ripe, raw tomatoes 427
Raw cantaloupe melon 417

A good way to reduce the harmful effects of high-sodium meals is to eat a high-potassium fruit or vegetable with each meal.

There are many more sources of potassium outside of this list. Be sure to check the potassium content of any preferred foods using the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database.

Deficiency

Potassium deficiency can cause a range of symptoms and health problems. It is also known as hypokalemia.

A normal potassium level is defined as between 3.5 and 5.0 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

Hypokalemia is diagnosed when potassium levels fall below 3.5 mmol/L. Mild potassium deficiency will generally not present with symptoms. A potassium level lower than 2.5 mmol/L is considered extremely deficient, and symptoms will become more severe as levels reduce.

Symptoms of low potassium levels include:

  • malaise and fatigue
  • weakness and muscle pain all over the body
  • constipation

Extremely low potassium levels can cause:

  • severe muscle weakness and paralysis
  • respiratory failure
  • painful obstructions in the gut
  • tingling, crawling, numb, or itchy sensations main felt in the hands, feet, legs, or arms
  • intermittent muscle spasms

Low potassium can be diagnosed using simple blood tests and treated by alterations to the diet, including supplements. Having regular medicals and health screenings will also help a person track their potassium levels and avoid any potential shortfalls.

Risks

Potassium can also cause health problems when a person consumes more than the 4,700 mg recommended Adequate Intake.

Individuals with good kidney function can efficiently rid the body of excess amounts of potassium in the urine. This process normally has no adverse side effects.

There have been a small number of reports that potassium toxicity is associated with an extremely high intake of potassium supplements. No food-related potassium toxicity has ever been reported.

Hyperkalemia

Consuming too much potassium can be harmful to people whose kidneys are not fully functional. Excessive potassium consumption can lead to hyperkalemia, in which the kidneys cannot remove enough potassium from the body. This can be dangerous if the condition escalates quickly.

Potassium levels between 5.1 and 6.0 mmol/L are considered high and warrant monitoring and management. Levels higher than 6.0 mmol/L are dangerous.

Hyperkalemia will mostly be either symptomless or present very few symptoms. However, when symptoms do present, they are similar to those that occur in hypokalemia.

Severe or sudden hyperkalemia can cause heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and chest pain. At this stage, hyperkalemia can become a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Reducing potassium intake

Hyperkalemia is treated by reducing the intake of potassium.

Potassium and sodium are part of a constant balancing act within the body. Maintaining this balance is vital to the smooth function of bodily systems.

If hyperkalemia is suspected, it is best to avoid high-potassium foods, such as the ones listed above. Salt substitutes, herbal remedies, or supplements should also not be consumed. These can all boost potassium levels rather than balance them.

High potassium levels have been linked to two cases of cardiac arrest. If the kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, the effects of potassium on the heart could be fatal.

Takeaway

Potassium is vital to bodily function but does not hold the answers to healthful living on its own. Overall eating patterns and dietary balance are most important in bolstering health and keeping disease at bay.

Wed 10 January 2018 
By Megan Ware RDN LD
Reviewed by Alan Carter, PharmD
yogurt

 

10 Foods Higher in Potassium Than a Banana

Surprise! Bananas deliver less than 10 percent of our daily dose of the mineral potassium, which protects against stroke and heart disease. Here’s how to get the rest.

Butternut squash

This sweet root vegetable tops bananas in the rankings of foods high in potassium, delivering 582 milligrams of the essential mineral in one cup, compared to 420 milligrams in a banana. According to the U.S. RDA, adults should aim to get 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day.

Edamame

Soybeans are one of the top foods with potassium, packing in 676 mg per cup. Edamame beans are also one of the world’s best sources of plant-based protein because they contain all the essential micronutrients our bodies need to build muscle. Edamame are delicious roasted with a sprinkle of salt.

White and sweet potatoes

Fresh organic potato stand out among many large background potatoes in the market. Close-up potatoes texture.

A sweet potato contains 438 mg of potassium, while its cousin, the white potato, delivers a whopping 950 mg. Both types of tubers also come with high levels of vitamin A. People often confuse yams and sweet potatoes; for potassium, you’ll want to stick with sweet potatoes.

Swiss chard

Get 961 mg of potassium by cooking up a single cup of Swiss chard. Not only is it one of the foods high in potassium, but the leafy green is also packed with iron, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K. Foods with potassium aren’t the only ones you should be adding to your diet.

Beet greens

Another one of the foods high in potassium? Chop and roast just one cup of beet greens for a 655-mg dose. As a bonus, you’ll also get folate, manganese, and copper, not to mention dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin B6.

Tomato sauce

Not many people think of tomato sauce as one of the foods high in potassium, but topping your pizza, pasta, or vegetables with one cup of the stuff will get you 905 mg of the nutrient. Make sure to pick the perfect pasta shape to go with your tomato sauce.

Black beans

When you’re looking for foods high in potassium, black beans are a top choice, delivering a hefty 681 mg. This legume is also a great source of vegetarian protein and dietary fiber, plus a long list of other health boosters, including antioxidants, iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc.

White beans

Surprisingly, white beans are the best source of potassium you can get. Just one cup contains an impressive 1,190 mg of potassium, which is about one-fourth of the daily recommended amount. Similar to black beans, they also contain protein, fiber, and a host of other healthful vitamins and minerals.

Watermelon

Two slices of watermelon contain a whopping 640 mg of potassium. Plus, its star ingredient is lycopene, a plant pigment that has been known to reduce the risk of some cancers.

Yogurt

Yogurt is a great source of calcium and delivers 380 mg of potassium per eight-ounce cup. Bring it over the banana threshold by adding one ounce of hazelnuts, which have 211 mg of potassium.

Morgan Cutolo
source: www.rd.com
Originally Published on Reader’s Digest
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7 Signs You May Not Be Getting Enough Potassium

Potassium is a crucial electrolyte that helps your muscles, but if your levels are too low, you could be in trouble. If you match many of these signs, you might want to ask your doctor about a potassium deficiency. Better safe than sorry!

The scoop on potassium

Like calcium or magnesium, potassium is an electrolyte that helps your body function—it’s also one of the nutrients that nutritionists can’t get enough of. Potassium lowers your blood pressure and helps with digestive and muscular function, so keeping these levels steady and knowing when to get tested for a potassium deficiency can keep you out of the hospital.

You have a poor diet

It’s easy to reach for cookies, chips, and comfort snacks, but if your day-to-day diet isn’t balanced, you could end up with a potassium deficiency. “If this is someone not good at eating fruits and vegetables, eating a lot of processed foods, junk foods, they’re at risk for lower potassium levels,” says Manuel Villacorta MS, registered dietitian and founder of Whole Body Reboot in California. Here are some potassium-rich foods to add to your diet instead.

Your muscles feel weak

When you’re low on potassium, you’ll feel it in your muscles because potassium is an electrolyte needed for muscle construction and contraction. “Potassium is an electrolyte needed by your muscles,” says Villacorta. “One of the first symptoms people feel is muscle contraction.”

Your muscles are cramping

Because your muscles need healthy potassium levels, if you dip below a certain point, you could get muscle cramps. “People experience muscle cramps when their potassium is too low,” says Villacorta.

You’re taking diuretics or fluid pills

According to nutritionist Alyse Levine, MS, RD, of Nutritionbite in California, the most common reason for potassium deficiency is prescription water or fluid pills such as diuretics. The pills cause excessive potassium loss of potassium in urine. “Only rarely is low potassium caused by not getting enough potassium in your diet,” says Levine.

Your heart rate is abnormal

Severely low levels of potassium can mess with your heart rate, and even cause arrhythmias if potassium levels dip critically low. Monica Auslander, MS, RD, LD/N, founder of Essence Nutrition in Florida, says that potassium electrolyte imbalances can even be fatal, which is why they’re so important.

You’re dehydrated

Auslander says that electrolyte imbalances like lowered potassium usually only occur with dehydration, eating disorders, or athletes, but they can be helped. “Coconut water is an excellent re-hydrating method for serious sports,” she says, “but honestly, water has been proven to be almost as good.”

You have dry skin or acne

Megan Lyons, health coach and owner of The Lyons’ Share Wellness in Texas, says a potassium deficiency can show up with easy-to-spot symptoms like dry skin, acne, or digestive discomfort. “Of course, these symptoms are indicated in many different conditions, so it’s important to get tested if you suspect you have a potassium deficiency,” says Lyons.

BY ALEXANDRA WHITTAKER
source: www.rd.com


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Three nutrients for better sleep: Magnesium, potassium, vitamin D

Nutrients such as vitamin D and potassium have been scientifically linked to a good night’s rest.

Published Monday, July 29, 2013

Want a better night’s sleep? If you have difficulty getting quality zzzs, it could be linked to a surprising reason: vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

This week health website Livescience reported on three common sleep problems and the three nutrients that may cure what ails you.

1. Can’t get to sleep: Studies have shown that insomnia is one of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Good natural sources are dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, beans and lentils.

2. Difficulty staying asleep: This could be linked to potassium, Livescience reports. Studies have shown that potassium supplements may boost sleeping through the night, but good food sources are beans, leafy greens, avocados, baked potatoes, and to a lesser degree, bananas.

3. Feeling tired during the day: While this could be the result of many factors, namely stress, research has found “a strong correlation” between excessive drowsiness during the day and vitamin D deficiency, according to a study published last year in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Good vitamin D sources: the sun’s rays, but you can find the mineral in food sources such as swordfish, salmon, tuna, and fortified dairy products.


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The 5 Most Prominent Minerals In The Body and Their Use

by Fiora Stevens on August 5, 2013

Health conscious people often talk about getting enough vitamins and minerals, but do you know which minerals your body requires in the greatest amounts? And do you know what they do, and how they keep your body working in tip top shape? Let’s take a look at the five most prominent minerals in the human body, and how they lend themselves to health and proper function.

1. Calcium
If you see calcium and think “strong bones,” you’re certainly on the right track – but that’s not all calcium does! In addition to helping build and maintain the strength and structure of bones and teeth, calcium also plays a significant role in blood clotting, sending signals in the nervous system, regulating blood pressure, hormone secretion, and enzyme function.

Calcium also works with countless other vitamins and minerals to ensure that they can do their jobs to the fullest effect. Plus, calcium helps the body to excrete any lead that it takes in, aiding in the avoidance of lead poisoning.

2. Sodium
Often, not taking in too much sodium is the focus of many healthy eating plans. But although too much sodium can be harmful, this mineral is very much a necessity for the human body. One of the most important uses of sodium is to ensure that the body’s fluid balance stays in check, and that each individual cell has just the right amount of fluid inside it to function properly. Sodium is also a key factor in sending signals from one nerve to another, as well as helping muscles to contract and release.

3. Chloride
Chloride is absolutely crucial to the human body, yet, it’s not a mineral we hear much about. Acting in concert with sodium, chloride is a key factor in preserving fluid balance throughout the body and helping fluids to move in and out of cells and tissues. Chloride is also incredibly important in ensuring that the body’s pH level stays within a safe range. Finally, chloride ions work to send electrical impulses down nerve pathways.

 


4. Potassium
Like sodium and chloride, potassium is an electrolyte that regulates the body’s fluid levels, as well as the transportation of those fluids. And like sodium and chloride, potassium plays a major role in nerve signal transmission due to its electrical charge.
The contraction, flexing, and releasing of muscles is also reliant on potassium working in tandem with sodium. In addition, potassium can help prevent kidney stones, and levels of potassium that are too low have been tied to high blood pressure.

5. Phosphorus
This all-important mineral is found in every single cell. Phosphorus is a key component of the underlying structure of DNA, and also helps form the cell membranes that control what can and cannot enter an individual cell. Like calcium, phosphorus lends its strength to teeth and bones. Phosphorus also helps individual cells to convert food into energy, and is also a major player in the systems that maintain a balanced pH within the body.

Sources:
http://web.mit.edu/athletics/sportsmedicine/wcrminerals.html
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/minerals-and-their-functions-and-sources
http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/glossary=chlorideion
http://www.mayoclinic.org/mcitems/mc5100-mc5199/mc5129-0709-sp-rpt.pdf


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The Skinny On Coconut Water

Healthy Or Hype?

By Jen Hazen, Designed by Gabriela Alford

nutrition facts
Mmm, coconut water. Super-hydrating! Potassium-rich! All natural! There’s no shortage of talk about Mother Nature’s tropical cocktail these days, but any “healthy” drink that gets so much buzz — and is so ridiculously tasty — makes us wonder if it’s too good to be true. Depending on who you ask, coconut water is a miracle beverage…or barely better than soda. So before you reach for another bottle of Zico or Vita Coco, here are the facts on coconut water.

Not to be confused with coconut milk (a concoction of coconut water and freshly grated coconut), coconut water is all-natural carbs, straight up. A clear, sweet liquid with a nutty taste, it’s found inside young, green coconuts; the sterile water is usually harvested at the nine-month point. If you’re lucky enough to have access, fresh is best, says Barbara Mendez, RPh, MS, a NYC-based nutritionist and registered pharmacist. “Fresh coconut water has not been pasteurized, therefore it contains enzymes that help to detoxify and repair the body,” she explains. Most of what you’ll find in stores is pasteurized or from concentrate. (“It’s still a great way to hydrate yourself and it will still contain minerals, but it’s pasteurized, therefore, not raw,” she adds.)


Devotees of coconut water frequently praise its ability to keep the body well-hydrated. “Coconut water is a great source of electrolytes, such as potassium, necessary for proper hydration,” Mendez states. “Electrolytes are also necessary for proper muscle contraction and to generate energy in the body.” And, she adds, even if you’re a Bugles-munching couch potato, the potassium in coconut water can counteract the potential hazards — hypertension, for instance — of a high-sodium diet of processed and refined foods. (If you medically need to restrict your potassium intake, however, avoid coconut water.)

Camille Eroy-Reveles, a Brooklyn-based fitness trainer, gives coconut water a thumbs-up, too. “It’s been used in tropical climates for ages to rehydrate the body,” she explains. “Some of my clients prefer the naturally occurring coconut water to sports drinks, as it doesn’t have the added sugar and artificial flavoring and colors that other sports drinks have.” Yet, marathon runners and strenuous exercisers may want to keep nursing their neon Gatorade. “Sports drinks typically have more sodium, which is extremely important for maintaining water balance. They also have a greater carbohydrate content,” Eroy-Reveles adds.

So, what’s the catch? (You knew one was coming.) Check the ingredients before you start chugging. “It’s important to read the label for added sugars,” says Stacy Rothschild, MPH, RD, dietitian and founder of New Leaf Nutrition in Paramus, New Jersey. “Choose the unflavored, natural varieties; otherwise, you might be consuming all that added sugar that you would get from fruit juice or a soda.” As an example, a 14-ounce bottle of plain Zico coconut water has 12 grams of sugar, but the same serving of chocolate Zico has 18 grams. Someone looking to cut calories may want to avoid guzzling gallons of coconut water, too. “Consider the added calories that coconut water provides — generally 46 calories per cup — while water has zero calories,” says Rothschild.

Bottom line: For flavor, potassium, and hydration, coconut water is a healthful choice. But, if you are trying to lose a few extra pounds, sipping on plain water is undoubtedly a better option. Nothing nutty about that.


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The Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Mostly known for being a part of Halloween decorations or a pie filling, pumpkins are also packed with nutrition and offer a wide range of health benefits. Pumpkins are a storehouse of vitamins, mineral and other healthy nutrients. Whether it is the pulp or the seeds, pumpkins are great for your health and can offer some incredible benefits.

Nutritional Composition of Pumpkins

High Carotenoids Content – Pumpkins owe their bright Orange color to the high amount of carotenoids present in them. Carotenoids assist in staving off the free radicals in the body, and help in preventing premature aging, cardiovascular diseases and other infections. They are also high in Lutein & Zeaxanthin which protect the eyes against free radical damage and prevent formation of cataracts and degeneration of the eye tissues.

Protein – Pumpkin seeds also known as Pepitas are a rich source of protein. One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains approx. 7 grams of protein. Their oil is high in phytosterols or plant-based fatty acids and their chemical composition is the same as cholesterol. Phytosterols can replace cholesterol in the body, and help in reducing the blood cholesterol levels.

Essential Fatty Acids – Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of essential fatty acids, which have numerous health benefits. From providing protection against serious health diseases such as high blood pressure, arthritis and cancer to promoting healthy skin and improving brain power, essential fatty acids present in pumpkin oil offer several health benefits.

Vitamin A – Pumpkin is a rich source of Vitamin A. Regular consumption of pumpkin (both seeds and flesh) can promote the health of your eyes and boost your immune system remarkably.

Vitamin C – Vitamin C helps fight free radicals, improves immunity and promotes the production of collagen. The high Vitamin C content in pumpkins also offers protection against various forms of cancer.

Magnesium – Both the pulp and seeds of pumpkin are rich in magnesium, which is an important mineral required for various biological functions. Magnesium is also required for the maintenance bones and teeth.

Potassium & Zinc – Pumpkin is loaded with potassium and Zinc. Studies show that eating a potassium-rich diet can prevent onset of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension. Zinc is important for providing bone density support for people at risk for osteoporosis. It boosts the immune system and promotes reproductive health.

Fiber – Pumpkin flesh is very low in calories and contains abundant quantities of extremely good dietary fiber. It is extremely effective for treating gastrointestinal disorders such as constipation, indigestion etc. The high amount of fiber also helps in lowering the LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the blood and in regulating the blood sugar levels.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Flesh and Seeds

Prostate Cancer – The protective compounds present within the pumpkin seeds, called phytosterols can lower the risk of prostate cancer. These work by shrinking the prostate and stimulating the secretion of chemicals that protect against the transformation of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). High DHT levels can cause enlargement of the prostate glands.

Anti-Inflammatory Effect – The Beta carotene present in pumpkin seeds and flesh has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Regular consumption of pumpkin can protect against joint inflammation and arthritis. Pumpkins have been known to provide relief from inflammation quickly, without the harmful side-effects of anti-inflammatory medicines.

Great on your skin – The high amount of Vitamin A, C and E as well as Zinc present in pumpkin, make it a great choice for those who want a healthy and glowing skin. Have a cup of pumpkin seeds per day to prevent appearance of wrinkles and to keep your skin hydrated and nourished.

Prevents Kidney Stones – Have 5 to 10 grams of pumpkin seeds every day. This stimulates the kidneys and prevents the formation of calcium oxalate stones.

Depression – Pumpkin flesh contains L-tryptophan, a chemical compound that triggers feelings of well-being and happiness. Having pumpkin as a part of your daily diet can keep your spirits high and prevent depression.

Treatment of Parasites – In various cultures especially China, pumpkins are used to treat infections caused by tapeworms and other parasites.

Diuretics – Pumpkins are natural diuretics. These help in flushing out the toxins and unwanted waste material from the body, leaving you refreshed and healthy.

With so many health benefits, it is no wonder that pumpkin is an important part of the list of Super Foods. Next time you are carving a pumpkin, do not throw away the pulp or the seeds – instead boil, bake or cook them in any form you like.

source: bewellbuzz.com