Benefits of Potassium

Fresh fruits and vegetables are good potassium sources.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are good potassium sources.

While you can’t plug in your body, it still runs on electricity -- specifically electrical reactions from sodium, potassium and additional electrolytes that conduct messages from your brain to your tissues and back again. This is just a small part of potassium’s role in your body. Getting enough of this important nutrient in your daily diet can help you boost or maintain your health. Always speak to your physician to ensure you do not have conditions, such as kidney disease, that could be affected by increased potassium intake.

Regulates Blood Pressure Levels

A healthy blood pressure level ensures your heart does not have to work overtime to move blood through your body. Potassium is one of the key components to keeping blood pressure levels at a normal rate, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If your diet is low in potassium, yet high in sodium, you are at an increased risk for experiencing high blood pressure, according to the Colorado State University Extension. If you have high blood pressure, boosting your intake of potassium-rich fresh fruits and vegetables may help.

Builds Muscle

Your body uses potassium to build muscle. Once the muscle is present, potassium is also used to generate the electrical reactions from your brain that help the muscle contract. If you don't have enough potassium in your body, you may experience muscle cramps. If you are an active person, you may lose excess potassium via your sweat and need a potassium-enhanced sports drink to maintain muscle function.

Protects Bones

When it comes to building healthy bones, potassium can have protective benefits. Compounds in your body known as metabolic acids can eat away at your bones, weakening them and making them more prone to harmful conditions such as osteoporosis, according to Susan E. Brown, PhD. Potassium can neutralize these acids, helping to prevent bone loss and breakdown. The more high-potassium fruits and vegetables you eat, the more likely you are to have stronger bones, according to Dr. Brown.

Daily Intake Recommendations

Many Americans don't consume enough potassium in their daily diets, according to a 2010 report from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Advisory Committee. Aim to take in 4.7 grams of potassium per day, recommends the Colorado State University Extension. Foods considered a very good potassium source -- having 300 milligrams or more of potassium per serving -- include milk, bananas, nectarines, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and raisins. Meats such as chicken, fish, canned salmon and turkey also are considered excellent potassium sources.

 

About the Author

Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.

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