You’ve most likely heard over and over again that potassium helps keep your fluid level stable. What you might not know is that it is an electrolyte mineral that actually conducts electricity from cell to cell throughout your body. This process makes your heart beat and allows muscles to contract, including those of your digestive system. Certain conditions make you lose potassium, so you’ll need to replace it quickly. Otherwise, you’ll start to feel weak and possibly lightheaded as your heartbeat weakens.
Why You Lose It
You lose potassium through your skin when you sweat. When you’re taking a spin class, gardening in the afternoon sun or anything else that makes you sweat, you’re losing potassium. You also lose potassium through urine. So if you’re urinating frequently, possibly due to drinking excessive amounts of water or taking diuretics, your body is losing potassium. Your potassium levels could even drop if you’re suffering from a bug and throwing up or having diarrhea. Under these types of circumstances, you’ll want to quickly get some potassium in your body.
Electrolyte solution drinks, such as the kinds you would find down the baby care aisle, are a way to quench your thirst, while quickly upping your potassium intake. You’ll get about 385 milligrams of potassium from 16 ounces of an electrolyte solution. Since you need 4,700 milligrams daily, according to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, 16 ounces makes up nearly 10 percent of your recommendation.
Juices are readily available at any convenience store, making it easy for you to quickly get potassium into your system. Prune juice is at the top of the list, providing more than 705 milligrams of potassium per 8-ounce glass. If you know you’re going to work out hard, juice a few carrots before heading to the gym. Eight ounces of carrot juice contain almost 690 milligrams of the mineral. Tomato juice gives you 555 milligrams from 8 ounces, an 8-ounce serving of orange juice has nearly 500 milligrams and vegetable juice cocktail offers around 470 milligrams per 8 ounces.
Pack a Snack
Several kinds of snack foods are convenient to take with you, giving you quick access to a rich source of potassium. Trail mix, made with nuts and seeds, contains as much as 950 milligrams of potassium from 1 cup. If you prefer pistachio nuts, you’ll get 295 milligrams of potassium from just 1 ounce, which is roughly 47 nuts. Toss a banana in your bag. A medium-size 5.25-ounce banana contains nearly 540 milligrams of the mineral. Dried fruit is another way to get potassium in a hurry. You can get more than 1,085 milligrams of potassium from 1 cup of raisins, 795 milligrams from a cup of prunes or 405 milligrams of potassium from 10 dried apricot halves.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Potassium, K (mg) Content of Selected Foods per Common Measure, Sorted by Nutrient Content
- Linus Pauling Institute: Potasssium
- Cigna: Hypokalemia
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Fluid Replacement, Electrolyte Solution (Include Pedialyte)
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