As the third most abundant mineral in the human body, potassium plays a vital role in the maintenance of good overall health.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your diet includes plenty of potassium rich foods, such as nuts and fruits.
If you’re struggling to maintain healthy potassium levels, I can help.
My name is Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga with a passion for helping you heal and thrive through the use of natural remedies.
Want to learn more about potassium and its many benefits for your health?
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Potassium?
Potassium is a mineral that is not naturally produced by your body.
Instead, most people get the bulk of their daily potassium intake from the foods that they eat.
Despite not being naturally produced by your body, potassium is essential to your overall health.
Potassium acts as an electrolyte, meaning it helps conduct electrical charges throughout your body and subsequently helps with body functions, such as:
- Blood pressure
- Water balance
- Muscle contractions
- Nerve impulses
- Heart rhythm
- pH balance
Health Benefits of Potassium
As you can see, potassium is beneficial for a variety of biological processes.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of potassium in more detail.
1. It Regulates The Fluid In Your Body
Approximately 60% of your body is water.
40% of that water is located inside your cells within a substance called intracellular fluid (ICF).
As the main electrolyte in the ICF, potassium helps regulate the amount of water that goes in and out of your cells.
Without the aid of potassium, your cells wouldn’t be able to properly regulate the water and subsequently would either shrink or swell and burst.
Additionally, poor fluid balance in your cells can also lead to dehydration, which can be deadly if left untreated.
2. It Regulates Your Muscles (Including Your Heart)
Blood potassium levels play a role in your muscle contractions.
If your blood potassium levels are too low or high, your muscle contractions can weaken.
Since the heart is a muscle, your heartbeat may also be affected.
Imbalanced blood potassium levels may cause your heartbeat to weaken and become incapable of pumping blood into your vital organs.
3. It Supports Your Nervous System
Your nervous system is responsible for transferring information between your brain and body.
This information is transferred through nerve impulses, which are caused by sodium and potassium ions moving in and out of your cells.
This process is important for several of your body’s functions, such as the regulation of muscle contractions, heartbeat, and reflexes.
A potassium imbalance can disrupt this process and subsequently impact your nervous system.
4. It May Help Prevent Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become hallow and porous, often due to low levels of calcium.
Research suggests that a potassium rich diet plays a role in the prevention of osteoporosis through the reduction of calcium loss through urine.
Other nutrients that can help prevent osteoporosis include:
5. It May Help Reduce High Blood Pressure
Research suggests that eating a diet that is rich in potassium may help your body remove excess sodium, which is associated with high blood pressure.
Dietary Sources Of Potassium
Now that you know about the various health benefits of potassium, you might be wondering how to go about adding more potassium rich foods to your diet.
Some examples of potassium-rich foods include:
- Fruits, such as apples, apricots, avocados bananas, and kiwis
- Vegetables, such as leafy greens, carrots, beets, and potatoes
- Lean meats, such as chicken, salmon, or clams
- Whole grains
- Beans and nuts
Symptoms Of Potassium Deficiency
Symptoms of potassium deficiency can vary depending on the severity of the deficiency.
A slight, temporary decrease in potassium may not cause any noticeable symptoms.
On the other hand, a severe deficiency can become life threatening.
Symptoms of potassium deficiency include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Muscle spasms, weakness, or cramping
- Irregular heartbeat
- Constipation, nausea, or vomiting
Certain conditions may raise your risk of experiencing potassium deficiency, including:
- Kidney disease
- Excessive sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting
- A magnesium deficiency
- Overuse of certain medications, such as diuretics or antibiotics
Symptoms Of Potassium Toxicity
The presence of too much potassium in your body may also lead to temporary or long term health problems.
The primary symptom of potassium toxicity is irregular heartbeat.
Left untreated, potassium toxicity can lead to death.
Although generally rare in individuals with a balanced diet, potassium toxicity has several risk factors, including:
- Overuse of potassium supplements
- Kidney disease
- Too much exercise
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
- Severe burns
- Use of certain drugs, such as cocaine
- Use of certain medications, such as potassium sparing diuretics like spironolactone
Should You Take Potassium Supplements?
If you keep a balanced diet, you likely don’t need to take potassium supplements.
However, if you have a potassium deficiency, your naturopathic doctor can prescribe potassium supplements.
These supplements are most effective if your kidneys are healthy and functioning normally.
If you are experiencing a severe case of potassium deficiency, you may need IV treatment.
Book Your Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic Today
As you can see, potassium is an important factor for many aspects of your health.
As a naturopathic doctor, I am committed to helping my patients choose the best options for their health.
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to learn more about how a naturopathic doctor can help you.
Book an appointment with The Mindful Healing Clinic today to get started on a healthier tomorrow.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, N.D