Is Potassium Important? Potassium Benefits and Sources
Does your heart beat abnormally? Or perhaps feeling fatigue often? Or have you been suffering from a severe headache lately? If you do, then you might want to check your potassium levels right away. Yet, if you do not know why it’s important then you should check this post, Is Potassium Important? Potassium Benefits and Sources.
What is Potassium?
Potassium is one of the macro minerals needed by the body. It’s one of the major minerals required for muscle contraction and proper regulation of your heart’s rhythm.  On top of that, it also has a role to play in metabolism, nervous system and water balance too.
How Much Potassium Do You Need Every day?
The Food and Nutrition Board of US Institute of Medicine generally requires 4700mg of potassium to adults daily.
Why Do You need Potassium?
Your body needs an adequate amount of potassium every day to keep your heart, kidney, brain and other vital organs function properly.
1. To Avoid Hypokalemia
Hypokalemia is a low level of potassium in the blood serum.
Typically, normal potassium is within 3.5 to 5.0 mmol/L. Anything below 3.5 mmol/L is considered hypokalemia. Hypokalemia can cause abnormal heart rhythm, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, constipation and even abnormal blood pressure. 
2. Stabilize Blood Pressure
Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death globally. And, specifically, high blood pressure or hypertension is the major risk for cardiovascular disease. 
A study in Keck School of Medicine suggests that a higher intake of dietary potassium helps lower blood pressure. This macro mineral balances out the negative effects of sodium. Furthermore, it alleviates the tension in your blood vessel walls promoting a normal blood pressure. 
3. Boost Brain Function
Potassium plays an important role in the function of the brain neurons. Particularly, this mineral helps send more oxygen or provide an uninterrupted supply of oxygen to your brain for proper functioning. Low levels of this mineral will interrupt electrical signals that drive your brain to do its work appropriately thus results to confusion or brain fog.
4. Boost Metabolism
Potassium plays an important role in breaking down carbohydrates in tissues and in building some important proteins. Thus, a sufficient amount of this mineral in your diet helps boosts your metabolism.
5. Strengthen Muscles
Your muscles are the tissues in your body that have the ability to contract and enable you to move the other parts of your body. That being the case, sufficient supply of potassium is very important as it vitally promotes muscle contraction.
On the other hand, low potassium causes severe muscle weakness and fatigue.
6. Lower Risk of Heart Disease
Since potassium promotes a normal blood pressure, it also has a major role in lowering your risks of stroke and coronary heart disease. However, a balanced ratio intake of potassium-to-sodium is fully related to cardiovascular disease.
Besides, World Health Organization states that high sodium consumption and inadequate potassium intake contributes to high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
7. Relieve Depression
A study published in National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shows that there is a relative effect on the mood of low-sodium, high potassium (LNAHK) diet. The study suggests that this diet (LNAHK) has a positive effect on the overall mood of the study subject.
Symptoms of Potassium Deficiency
The following are common signs of hypokalemia:
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Muscle Weakness
- Vomiting or Nausea
- Abdominal Cramping
If you experience most of these symptoms you should consult your doctor immediately.
Sources of Potassium
Cooked or canned foods diminish potassium content while increasing sodium substance. In addition, coffee and soda are high in sugar and may reduce potassium in your body. Hence, it is important to avoid these foods if you want to stay healthy.
Instead, eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to increase your potassium intake. These foods are typically high in potassium and are low in sodium. Thus, they help maintain normal blood pressure, regulate heartbeat and helps generate muscle contraction too.
To control your potassium levels, you need to know which foods to ingest. Here are best sources of Potassium you can incorporate into your diet.
Potato with skin (baked)
1 medium piece (173g) = 925.6 mg
Sweet Potato with skin (baked)
1 large piece (180g) = 855 mg
1 cup (174g) = 1273.7 mg
Figs (dried, uncooked)
1 cup (149g) = 1013.2g
1 medium piece (118g) = 422.4 mg
1 fruit (131g) = 237.1 mg
1 cup (diced) 156g) = 416.5 mg
Chinese Cabbage (boiled)
1 cup (shredded) (170g) = 630.7 mg
1 cup (pureed) (230g) = 1115.5 mg
Brussel Sprout (boiled)
100 grams = 317 mg
1 cup (236g) = 689.1 mg
1 cup with juice (230g) = 310.5 mg
1 cup (sliced) (165g) = 427.4 mg
1 cup (sliced) (180g) = 561.6 mg
1 cup (sliced) (166g) = 254 mg
Lima Beans (large, boiled)
100 g = 508 mg
Black Beans (boiled)
100 g = 433 mg
1 cup (slices) (70g) = 222.6 mg
1 stalk (140g) = 410.2 mg
To sum up, you need sufficient intake of potassium along with adequate amount of sodium to produce energy, regulate kidney function, lower the risk of heart disease and eventually maintain good health.
You also need to lessen or eliminate the ingestion of processed foods (canned or fast food) as these may contain much sodium and less potassium.
If you have symptoms of potassium deficiency or have excessive potassium you should immediately consult your doctor.
-  Corpuz, Arlene May. (2015). Healthy Juices. www.pphsda.com
-  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypokalemia
-  http://www.who.int/elena/titles/potassium_bp_children/en/>
-  http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/MakeChangesThatMatter/How-Potassium-Can-Help-Control-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_303243_Article.jsp#.WZLXaFUjHIU