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What Does Potassium Do For Your Body?

Written by:

Obi Obadike

Obi Obadike

Celebrity Fitness & Nutrition Expert, CFT, SFN, M.S. Founder & CEO – Ethical Inc.
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What does potassium do for your body? A diet that is rich in potassium can reduce blood pressure, water retention, protect against stroke, help prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones. Potassium is the third most abundant mineral in the body. 80% of the potassium is found in your muscle cells. And the other 20% is found in your bones, liver, and red blood cells.

The body is made up of 60% water and potassium helps to regulate fluid in the body. Poor fluid balance can lead to dehydration which can affect the heart and kidneys. That is why getting enough potassium in your diet is important to prevent dehydration which leads to muscle cramps and spasms.

What does potassium do for your body? Photo credit: iStock-CharlieAJA

Potassium is found in whole foods such as fruit and vegetables. Some of the foods where you can find potassium are:

  • Cooked green beets- 909 mg of potassium
  • Baked yams- 670 mg of potassium
  • Cooked pinto beans- 646 mg of potassium
  • Baked white potatoes- 544 mg of potassium
  • Grilled mushrooms- 521 mg of potassium
  • Avocado- 485 mg of potassium
  • Baked sweet potato- 475 mg of potassium
  • Cooked spinach- 466 mg of potassium
  • Kale- 447 mg of potassium
  • Cooked Salmon- 414 mg of potassium
  • Bananas- 358 mg of potassium
  • Cooked peas- 271 mg of potassium

Research studies show that less than 2% of Americans reach the U.S recommendation for potassium.  Potassium is important for the nervous system as it helps to relay messages between your brain and your body.

These messages are delivered in the form of nerve muscles and help to regulate your muscle contractions, heartbeats, reflexes, and other body functions. Potassium also helps to regulate muscle and heart contractions. It helps to maintain a regular heartbeat and low levels can affect the beat of the heart.

If the heart doesn’t beat properly, it can negatively affect blood pumping to the brain, organs, and muscles.  In some cases, an irregular heartbeat or heart arrhythmia can be fatal and lead to sudden death.

High blood pressure affects one in three Americans. And high sodium levels can increase your blood pressure particularly for people who already have high blood pressure. Research studies have shown that a diet that is rich in potassium can help rid excess sodium in the body.

An analysis of 33 studies that had over 120,000 participants found that people who ate the most potassium had a 24% lower risk of stroke than people who ate the least.

Research studies have shown that a rich potassium diet can lower the risk of osteoporosis. And this is by reducing how much calcium the body loses through urine. There was a small study in 62 health women from the ages of 45 to 55 years old found that people who ate the most potassium had the greatest total bone mass.

Another study found in 994 healthy premenopausal women found that those who ate the most potassium had more bone mass in their lower back and hip bones.

Most health experts believe the optimal amount of potassium is 3,500 to 4,700 mg daily. It is best to try to get your potassium intake from food first before dietary supplements.

“A diet that is rich in potassium can reduce blood pressure, water retention, protect against stroke, help prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones.” Celebrity Fitness & Nutrition Expert Obi Obadike

The Bottom Line is potassium is one of the most important minerals in the body. It helps to regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions, nerve signals, etc. A high potassium diet can help reduce blood pressure and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

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References

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  2. Smith SR, Klotman PE, Svetkey LP. Potassium chloride lowers blood pressure and causes natriuresis in older patients with hypertension. J Am Soc Nephrol. 1992 Feb;2(8):1302-9. doi: 10.1681/ASN.V281302. PMID: 1627756.
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  5. New SA, Robins SP, Campbell MK, Martin JC, Garton MJ, Bolton-Smith C, Grubb DA, Lee SJ, Reid DM. Dietary influences on bone mass and bone metabolism: further evidence of a positive link between fruit and vegetable consumption and bone health? Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jan;71(1):142-51. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/71.1.142. PMID: 10617959.
  6. Macdonald HM, New SA, Fraser WD, Campbell MK, Reid DM. Low dietary potassium intakes and high dietary estimates of net endogenous acid production are associated with low bone mineral density in premenopausal women and increased markers of bone resorption in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Apr;81(4):923-33. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/81.4.923. PMID: 15817873.
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  8. Aburto NJ, Hanson S, Gutierrez H, Hooper L, Elliott P, Cappuccio FP. Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses. BMJ. 2013 Apr 3;346:f1378. doi: 10.1136/bmj.f1378. PMID: 23558164; PMCID: PMC4816263.
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