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Know the Benefits of Potassium for the Body

Potassium is a type of mineral needed by the body. There are various benefits of potassium for health. One of them is protecting the body from various diseases. Potassium intake can be obtained by consuming several types of vegetables and fruits.

The benefits of potassium are always associated with its role as a type of electrolyte in the body. Electrolytes play an important role in regulating body fluids, delivering electrical signals to nerves, and regulating muscle contractions.

Therefore, the adequacy of electrolytes (one of which is potassium) is very important because it can affect organ function and body performance.

What causes potassium deficiency?

Several conditions can cause a person to lack potassium. For example, a person experiences vomiting and diarrhea together, sweating too much, alcoholism, eating disorders such as bulimia, and excessive use of laxatives. Also, potassium deficiency can be caused by the effects of serious medical conditions, such as chronic kidney failure, diabetes ketoacidosis, folic acid deficiency, and malnutrition.




However generally, the most common factor that causes a person to experience excessive potassium deficiency is due to the influence of taking diuretic drugs that function to accelerate the formation of urine. The use of diuretic drugs is often prescribed for people who have high blood pressure or heart disease.

Therefore, avoid overuse of diuretic drugs to reduce the risk of this condition. For this reason, the use of this drug must always be under the supervision of a doctor to avoid unwanted things.

Benefits of Potassium for Body Health

Not only that, but potassium also has several important health benefits, including:

1. Lowering blood pressure

Potassium helps relieve tension in the walls of blood vessels, to reduce blood pressure. Besides, foods that contain potassium can help reduce excess salt levels in the body by removing it through urine.

2. Maintaining a healthy heart and blood vessels

Adequate potassium intake can prevent diseases of the blood vessels, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Potassium is also able to prevent atherosclerosis or narrowing of arteries.

Also, the benefits of potassium in maintaining healthy nerves and muscle strength will also maintain the heart's ability to pump blood adequately. Some studies even mention that potassium is also useful to reduce the risk of heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias).

3. Maintaining nerve function

The nervous system connects the brain and body. The brain sends messages to certain organs and body parts through stimulation or electrical impulses. Because of this nerve performance, the body can regulate muscle contraction and heart rate, as well as receive stimulation and feel pain (sensory function).

If blood levels of potassium are reduced, this can affect the brain's ability to produce nerve impulses.

Some studies show that potassium deficiency, in the long run, can cause nerve and brain disorders, such as frequent tingling, forgetfulness or senility, and muscle weakness.

4. Prevents kidney stones

Potassium can bind calcium in urine, thereby preventing the formation of calcium mineral deposits that can become kidney stones. According to one study, people who had adequate daily potassium intake had a lower risk of developing kidney stones than people who were deficient in potassium.

5. Maintain bone density

Potassium plays a role in keeping calcium from being wasted in the urine. Also, potassium can also increase the absorption of calcium in bones, so that bones do not lose their density (osteoporosis) and are not easily broken.

6. Prevents muscle cramps

Muscle cramps are conditions when the muscles contract suddenly and are out of control. This condition can occur due to the body's lack of potassium. In muscle cells, potassium helps convey signals from the brain that stimulate muscle contractions, while helping to end these contractions.

When potassium levels in the blood are low, the brain cannot convey signals effectively, so the muscles continue to contract and cause cramps.

Types of Foods Containing Potassium

Adults need 4,500-4,700 mg of potassium per day. However, the body is unable to produce potassium itself, so potassium intake must be obtained from food.

Some foods that contain lots of potassium are:

  • Vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, and mushrooms.
  • Fruits, including bananas, apples, tomatoes, melons, oranges, and pumpkins.
  • Nuts, such as kidney beans, peas, almonds, and soybeans.
  • Milk and its preparations, such as yogurt and cheese.
  • Tea.
  • Meat.
  • Red rice.
  • Fish.

Apart from food, potassium can also be obtained from supplements. However, the consumption of potassium supplements should be based on doctor's advice to avoid excess potassium (hyperkalemia) which is also dangerous.

Besides, if you suffer from certain diseases, such as kidney disorders, diabetes, or heart rhythm disorders, you should not consume foods that are high in potassium and too much potassium supplements.

Consult with your doctor about how much potassium intake is recommended according to your condition and whether you need to take potassium supplements to meet the needs of potassium.





References

References

  1. WebMD (2017). Low Potassium Hypikalemia Diagnosis.
  2. WebMD (2017). High Potassium Food
  3. World Health Organization. Increasing Potassium Intake to Reduce Blood Pressure and Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases in Adults.
  4. Dolson, L. Verywell Fit (2019). The Health Benefits of Potassium.

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