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What Does Potassium Do In Your Body?

You’ve probably heard that bananas are good for you because they have potassium. But what exactly is potassium and what does it do in your body?

In This Healthy Insight:

  1. What Is Potassium?
  2. What Does Potassium Do for Your Body?
  3. How Much Potassium Do You Need
  4. What Foods Contain Potassium?
Potassium foods

What Is Potassium?

From science class you may recall potassium from the Periodic Table of Elements with a symbol of K and atomic number of 19. Potassium, a micro-mineral, is a silvery-white metal that’s found in lots of foods besides bananas. It’s also an electrolyte, a mineral that conducts electrical impulses throughout the body and is dissolved in the body’s fluids. Other electrolytes are calcium, magnesium and phosphate. Electrolytes assist in several essential functions in your body. It’s the job of the kidneys to maintain the right amount of potassium in your body.

What Does Potassium Do for Your Body?

Potassium helps your body in 6 ways.

  1. Helps regulate fluid balance – The body is 60% water and 40% of that is inside your cells. Potassium helps balance the fluid inside and outside the cells to maintain cellular integrity. Maintaining proper fluid balance is essential, since poor fluid balance can lead to dehydration and other health issues.
  2. Plays a role in the nervous systemThe nervous system is responsible for relaying messages via impulses between the brain and body. These impulses help regulate muscle contractions, reflexes and other functions.
  3. Supports heart rhythm – Related to the above, the muscle with the most contractions is your heart, which beats about 100,000 times a day! Potassium is essential for keeping the heart beat consistent and regular.  
  4. May support bone health – A few small studies showed that a potassium-rich diet may support bone density by lessening the amount of calcium that’s lost in urine.
  5. Moves nutrients into cells and takes waste products out – This is important for overall health and wellness.
  6. Counters the effects of sodium – which effects blood pressure
woman holding heart symbol

How much Potassium Do You Need?

Fewer than 5% of Americans meet the recommended daily intake of 2300 mg!

What Foods Contain Potassium?

There’s no shortage of delicious potassium-rich foods including:

  • Avocadoes
  • Bananas
  • Beef
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Beans
  • Cantaloupe
  • Dates
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Oranges & Orange Juice
  • Peas
  • Salmon
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Turkey
  • White Potatoes
  • Yams

The best way to get the right amount of potassium is through your everyday diet. If supplementation is needed, always speak to your doctor first. And then be sure to look for a high-quality potassium supplement from a trusted source.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Individual results may vary.

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