Originally Posted on May 19, 2012 

Potassium Rich Foods are Key to Good Health

You have heard that it is important to include potassium rich foods in your diet, but you may not know why. Potassium serves multiple very important roles in your body’s health and well being, including regulating heart functions, reducing blood pressure, and converting glucose into glycogen. This last task is important in the process of using glucose for muscle energy. Additionally, potassium is important for carbon dioxide elimination from the lungs, normal nerve and muscle function, and maintaining an acid/alkali balance. This mineral is necessary for proper functioning across several body systems.

What to Eat
The good news is that foods rich in potassium are plentiful, easy to find, and good to eat. Some fruits with high levels of potassium include papayas, prunes, cantaloupe, bananas, and raisins. Excellent vegetable sources include sweet potatoes, avocadoes, potatoes, asparagus, and pumpkin. There are more foods that have high or moderately high levels of this all important mineral. Consult the library or the internet for a more exhaustive list.

Symptoms of Potassium Deficiency
A diet that does not include enough potassium rich foods or dietary supplements will soon lead to health complications. Symptoms of a deficiency of potassium in the body include water retention, heart arrhythmias, continual thirst, high blood pressure, nerve and muscle dysfunction, confusion, and vomiting. The vomiting will lead to a further deficiency in the mineral. These symptoms, affecting numerous body functions are caused by the electrolyte imbalance brought on by potassium deficiency.

How Much Potassium do you Need?
The recommended daily allowance for potassium changes as you age. Infants and toddlers, ages 0 to 3, should be consuming 750 to 800 milligrams per day, and children from 4 to 10 years old should ingest 1,100 to 2,000 milligrams of potassium per day. From 11 years old through adulthood, the suggested amount is 3,100 to 3,500 milligrams of potassium every day. One banana contains 440 milligrams, and a medium baked potato contains 450. Take a look at your diet, and if you are not reaching these numbers regularly, you should adjust your diet or add a dietary supplement.

Mitigating Factors
The above numbers are a baseline guide. Factors that will lead to depletion of potassium include heavy exercise that leads to sweating, excessive intake of caffeinated beverages, diarrhea, vomiting, and diuretic medications. Some antibiotics may also reduce the potassium levels in your body. If you any of these factors pertain to you, be sure to increase your consumption of potassium rich foods accordingly.

What foods are high in potassium?
Bell pepper
Crimini mushrooms
Brussels sprouts