Potassium is found in many foods like bananas, and it plays a significant role in our body functions. Your body needs potassium to help the muscles contract, maintain blood pressure levels, and maintain fluid balance. Also, potassium may help reduce the risk of kidney stone and bone loss as you age.
Potassium is a key mineral when it comes to blood pressure and a healthy heart. According to studies, people who consume enough potassium have a lower risk of stroke.
For an adult, 4700 mg of potassium is recommended for daily intake, but people consume only half of it. Another thing to see, only 3% of adults consume the recommended intake of potassium per day. However, if you have kidney disease, you should take less than 4700 mg of potassium per day. It’s because if too much potassium stays in your body, it can cause muscle and nerve problems.
Potassium is found in many foods that you already eat. We are going to discuss such food items but first, let us see, what are the signs that your body is not getting enough potassium?
Muscle Cramps – Potassium helps our body to maintain muscle contraction and growth. When your body doesn’t get enough potassium, you might experience cramps, aches, and spasms anytime during the day but mainly during exercise.
You Always Feel Tired – If you feel tired even after taking enough rest, you may be potassium deficient. Feeling always exhausted, even when you know you had a good sleep, potassium deficiency might be the cause. However, it’s not always the case; you can also feel excessively tired if you do not have a proper diet or you’re going through a lot of stress.
You Feel Bloated All The Time – When your body is low on potassium, it tries to regulate the sodium levels, and this can cause salt-induced bloating. Also, low potassium in your body can slow your bowel functions, leading to constipation and cramping.
You May Experience Irregular Heartbeat Or Palpitations – The blood vessels in your body can narrow due to the low potassium level in the body. This causes hypertension and blood pressure. Your heart faces difficulty while pumping when the sodium level is off. So, you may also feel irregular heartbeats.
Digestive Problems Are Also A Sign – Digestion problems have many causes, and one of them could be potassium deficiency. Potassium helps the brain to relay signals to the muscle located in the digestive system. These signals help the digestive system to carry the digestion process efficiently. When you have a low potassium level, the brain finds it difficult to relay signals.
Tingling and Numbness – people suffering from potassium deficiency also experience persistent tingles and numbness. This usually occurs in the hands, arms, legs, and feet. Numbness and tingling occur when nerve signals get weaker due to the lack of potassium. Occasionally experiencing these signals is fine, but if you consistently have the condition, then it may be harmful, and we recommend you to see a doctor.
You May Face Breathing Difficulties – Very less potassium in your body can also cause breathing difficulties. This happens because potassium helps relay signals to the lungs to expand and contract. Your lungs may not expand or contract properly when potassium levels are severy low. This may even result in shortness of breath.
You Might Experience Mood Changes – Potassium deficiency is also linked with mental fatigue and mood changes. It’s because low potassium in the blood may disrupt the signals that support the brain in maintaining optimal functions. However, there is no strong evidence to link potassium deficiency with mood. More research is to be done.
If you’re worried about your potassium intake, here’s a list consisting of natural food sources for potassium. Yes, a lot more than a banana.
6 Food Items Packed With Potassium
Avocadoes are very popular and all for good reasons. Also consisting of good fats, avocados are a great source of Vitamin K and folate. Just half of an avocado will give you 487 mg of potassium, which is 10 % of the adequate intake. If you eat one avocado, you will get 20 % of the adequate intake at once.
Another great thing, avocados can help those with high blood pressure levels who are advised to increase potassium intake and reduce sodium intake.
Sweet potatoes are also very popular and often used in place of potatoes. These are a healthy and tasty way to increase your potassium intake. One sweet potato ( medium-sized ) will give you around 541 mg or 12 % of your adequate intake of potassium. What’s more, sweet potatoes are a healthy source of fiber and are low on fat.
We all know how nutritiously packed spinach is. Just a cup of spinach gives you 540 mg of potassium that roughly is 12 % of your daily intake. Not just potassium, you get other nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin K, folate, and magnesium.
Dried apricots are made by dehydrating fresh apricots. They have a great shelf life, and around six dried apricots can give you 488 mg of potassium that is over 10 percent of the adequate intake. You also get plenty o fiber and Vitamin A and E. You can mix dried apricots with oats or muesli or eat them as a snack during the day.
Beetroots are often boiled, pickled, or used in salads or wraps. Around 175 gms or one cup of beetroot gives you 518 mg of potassium. If you want to lower blood pressure while increasing your potassium intake, beetroot gives you an added advantage. Beets also have folates and contain nitrates, which have been shown to support heart health.
Pomegranate is an extremely healthy source of potassium as one fruit can give you around 665 mg of potassium. This way, you get 14 % of your adequate intake. Pomegranate is also a good source of Vitamin C and K, as well as higher protein content. Pomegranates also contain plenty of fiber that helps you feel full all day.
The Bottom Line
Potassium plays a great role in our body functions. Unfortunately, most of us don’t consume enough potassium in our diets, leading us to weak muscles, fatigue, breathing difficulties, etc. But now, you can identify whether you have enough potassium by identifying the symptoms mentioned above. Also, we have listed natural food sources to ramp up your potassium intake.