It’s not a joke! Potassium is important! You’d die without it. Potassium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body and its balance is critical for upholding several functions; heart regulation, muscle function, bone health, blood sugar regulation, metabolism, organ health and the list goes on and on. Granted, the human body typically does an excellent job of naturally regulating potassium levels; excess potassium is excreted while potassium is retained if the body senses a lack of consumption or an excess of loss. Although the body does a good job of regulating this important mineral we still need to consume adequate amounts of it and we should be conscious of the amount we are getting through the foods we consume. I mean, the body also does a good job of regulating fluid but that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to be conscious of our fluid intake if optimal health and performance is what we’re after. The same holds true for potassium.
Most health experts recommend that we consume equal amounts of sodium and potassium each day; that is to say, a 1:1 ratio. The idea is that if you typically consume 4000 mg of sodium on a daily basis, you should also be consuming 4000 mg of potassium. Before I go any further I will note that sodium is just as important as potassium. So why am I going on about potassium and not sodium? The reason is that the MAJORITY of people eat too much sodium and too little potassium. In fact, I’ve read figures claiming that the average amount consumes 5 times the amount of sodium compared to potassium. A 5:1 ratio is a far cry from 1:1.
I believe that we would all feel better AND be healthier if we consumed equal parts sodium and potassium each day. Many people fall short on potassium intake because they don’t consume enough fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. At the same time, a lot of people eat too many canned, processed and over-salted foods. A lot of athletes will consider eating chicken and rice a healthful meal. Chicken does have over 200 mg of potassium in 5 oz but it also has around 100 mg of sodium. Meanwhile, rice is very low in potassium and by the time most people season their chicken with a salty seasoning and or marinade, the amount of salt far surpasses the amount of potassium. What to do? Eat more produce with your meals!!!! Not only will adding fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds etc to your meals bump up your potassium, you will invite more vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber into your diet. It’s a win win.
Here are some common foods high in potassium that are easy to make a part of your regular diet. They also happen to be high in other beneficial nutrients! :
Prunes (and most other fruits)
Spinach (and most other leafy greens)
Consider your current intake of sodium and potassium and if you think you might be falling short on potassium, try bumping it up a but through better nutrition.
All that being said, I’m no doctor but I would advise against trying to increase potassium through the use of supplements. From what I understand, that can be very dangerous and is not the same as the potassium we obtain through the foods we eat. Also, anyone who has kidney problems or any other health issues should check with their doctor before making any drastic dietary changes with regard to sodium and potassium intake.