Benefits of Potassium You Need to Know
Potassium plays an essential role in maintaining your body’s electrical system and regularly beating your heart. High-potassium foods include bananas, potatoes, oranges, avocados, and yogurt. If you don’t get enough potassium from your diet, or if specific health problems cause you to lose too much potassium in your urine, you can take potassium supplements.
Potassium deficiency can lead to a condition called hypokalemia. The main symptom of low potassium is muscle weakness. In severe cases, it can cause paralysis and even death. Other symptoms include constipation and irregular heartbeat.
- Supports Heart Health
Potassium helps regulate your blood pressure by blunting the effects of sodium on your body’s natural balance of fluids. Too much sodium raises your blood pressure as it causes water retention; meanwhile, eating foods high in potassium helps you excrete excess sodium through your urine. Studies show that eating more potassium-rich foods lowers systolic and diastolic blood pressure by as much as five mmHg, reducing the risk for stroke by as much as 10 percent.
- Potassium keeps your heart beating rhythmically.
The mineral helps our heart muscles contract and relax, which is essential to a healthy heartbeat. In fact, without enough potassium in your bloodstream, your heartbeat can become irregular, increasing your risk of developing certain heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia.
- It aids in muscle function.
Potassium also helps reduce muscle cramps by balancing out this same sodium buildup which causes water retention (and, therefore, painful cramping).
- It aids digestion by moving food through your system faster, preventing constipation and other digestive issues like ulcers, hemorrhoids, or colon cancer.
- Potassium helps maintain bone density.
Your bones need potassium to keep them strong and well-nourished. Without enough potassium in their diet, some people may be more likely to suffer from fragile bones at a higher risk of breaks or fractures. Potassium promotes bone health because it increases calcium absorption in bones while decreasing its loss through urination (this loss is what causes osteoporosis).
- Potassium can help prevent muscle cramps.
If you get sudden muscle spasms after exercise or are dehydrated, you might not have enough potassium in your body. The mineral is essential for helping muscles contract and relaxes appropriately—if there isn’t enough of it in the blood, the muscles don’t function as they should.