Foods: bananas, strawberries, oranges, apricots, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes
Nutritional & health benefits: metabolism, muscle function
Its natural talent for conducting electricity through the muscles make potassium the nutrient most monitored by athletes, joggers & marathon runners.
Potassium, which is known as K on the periodic table, is a mineral that is essential for maintaining good overall health. The levels
of potassium in the body are tightly regulated by the kidneys because potassium, in conjunction with sodium and calcium,
is responsible for regulating a number of things in the body including pH balance, water balance, heart rhythm, and blood
In more primitive times, our consumption levels of sodium were actually much lower, which is important because sodium
and potassium should ideally be consumed in relative proportion to each other. Many scientists believe that our drastically
increased sodium consumption has thrown off the proper potassium to sodium ratio in our bodies, which is at least partially
responsible for a number of different illnesses.
Bananas and oranges, along with strawberries, apricots, and tomatoes,
are excellent sources of potassium in the daily diet.
It has been found that the risk of developing kidney stones, osteoporosis, and strokes are all reduced when potassium intake is increased to better compensate for the increased sodium intake in modern diets.
It is also likely that the same health benefits could be replicated or even improved upon by reducing the amount of sodium consumed,
which would also bring the ratio of potassium to sodium closer to what it should be.
There is also evidence to suggest that increasing potassium intake provides c ardiovascular health benefits. An analysis of the large number of studies conducted on the link between potassium and high blood pressure found that increased potassium consumption causes a small but significant improvement in blood pressure. It's important to note that the improvement was more pronounced in those who had high blood pressure to begin with.
The daily recommended intake of potassium is 4 grams, however the average American gets only half of that. For this reason, most people could do with extra potassium in their diets. Good sources of potassium include broccoli, tomatoes, garlic, bananas, apricots, avocados, and oranges.
Below normal levels, or hypokalemia, can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness and cramping, and is most commonly suffered by those with kidney disease.
More information about potassium around the Web:
Learn more about potassium's other benefits in maintaining good health with information on food sources, supplements, and
research studies reported around the Web...
Potassium and the Diet - Quick facts, plus more on its role on maintaining good health, why athletes and those on diuretics need to monitor levels, recommended daily requirements, and a table of foods indicating very-good-to-poor potassium levels by serving size.