Potassium is a mineral that’s crucial for life. Potassium is necessary for the heart, kidneys, and other organs to work normally. Do you know if you are getting enough potassium?
Potassium is needed to maintain the body’s fluid balance, is involved in nerve and muscle control as well as regulating blood pressure. Previous studies have suggested that high potassium diets help maintain a healthy blood pressure and may protect against heart disease and stroke.
A recent analysis of 10 international studies found that individuals who eat potassium-rich fruits, vegetables and dairy on a regular basis are less likely to suffer from an ischemic stroke – strokes caused by a blockage in an artery to the brain, which make up about 80 percent of strokes – than individuals who do not include potassium-rich foods.
It was reported that the risk of stroke decreased as intake of potassium-rich foods increased. With each 1,000-mg increase in daily potassium intake, risk of stroke dropped 11 percent over 5-14 years.
The study also found that individuals who consumed high-sodium, low-potassium diets were more likely to die from any cause. So while it is not yet known if high potassium intake is the only reason for stroke risk reduction, it’s still a great idea to include naturally potassium-rich foods in your diet.
Adequate Intake (AI)
14 years and up
18 years and up
Always take potassium supplements with a full glass of water or juice.
Good natural food sources of potassium include:
- Nuts, like almonds and peanuts
- Citrus fruits
- Leafy, green vegetables
Keep in mind that some types of cooking, such as boiling, can destroy the potassium in some foods.
What are the risks of taking potassium?
- Side effects. At normal doses, potassium is fairly safe. It may cause an upset stomach. Some people have allergies to potassium supplements.
- Interactions. Potassium supplements may not be safe if you take drugs for diabetes or heart disease. Check with your doctor.
- Warnings. People with kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease, Addison’s disease, stomach ulcers, or other health problems should never take potassium supplements without talking to a doctor first.
- Overdose. Signs of a potassium overdose include confusion, tingling sensation in the limbs, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, weakness, and coma. Get emergency medical help.