All nutrients are important for our body. Vitamins, minerals, and protein among others work together to keep things running. However, there are certain nutrients considered vital for our wellbeing. For example, magnesium, iron, and calcium are essential minerals we can’t live without. There’s a fourth mineral, however, whose importance has been unrightfully diminished – potassium.
What Is Potassium?
Potassium is an electrolyte and a positive ion that comes in salt. It’s a water-soluble nutrient present in all cells in our body. One of potassium’s main functions is to help with the transport of water to all our cells. Its ability to pass membrane cells also helps potassium arrange other nutrients in our cells and organs. Thanks to its electrolytic properties, it also helps with the transport of electric signals that keep our brain function in check. As an electrolyte, potassium maintains the acid-base balance in the body, preventing the blood from becoming too acidic.
Furthermore, potassium plays a major role in the production of insulin which is of vital importance for people suffering from diabetes. This is why it’s important to keep your potassium levels in check, and you can do that with a simple blood test at your doctor.
Potassium and Heart Health
Working together with other minerals, potassium plays a key role in our heart health. It regulates our heart rate during workouts and keeps our heart rhythm stable. The effect potassium has on our cardiovascular health is directly related to its reserves in our body.
The Love-Hate Relationship Between Sodium and Potassium
The balance between sodium and potassium in our bodies is of key importance for our wellbeing. These minerals have kind of a love-hate relationship – they balance each other out to maintain homeostasis inside our bodies.
When our potassium levels are satisfactory, the excess sodium is eliminated through urine. However, when the levels are low, the body prevents it from being flushed. At the same time, this also suspends the elimination of sodium. When the levels of sodium rise, the risk of fluid retention goes up as well. This, in turn, raises the blood pressure, resulting in hypertension that is very dangerous to our cardiovascular system. If this goes untreated, it can be fatal.
What is Hypokalemia?
Hypokalemia is a condition of low potassium levels in the blood serum. It’s a relatively rare condition that may be associated with kidney problems. Hypokalemia manifests through leg cramps, fatigue, and constipation among other symptoms. Although many downplay its negative effects, hypokalemia can seriously harm our health.
The problem is that the mistakes of this dangerous condition are often ignored until it’s too late. In severe cases, it can lead to irregular heart rhythm and ventricular fibrillation which may result in cardiac arrest.
How to Raise Your Potassium Levels
Taking potassium supplements would be the easy answer to this question. There’s no doubt that they work, yet with all the side-effects they have, it’s best to go natural. The good news is that many natural foods contain plenty of potassium.
Fish and meat, as well as broccoli, tomatoes, peas, beans, and pumpkins, are full of the mineral. Add these foods to your daily diet and you’ll sort out the problem pretty soon. Fruits such as bananas, citrus fruits, and apricots are also abundant in potassium.
A healthy diet is key to optimal wellbeing. A proper diet will keep your vitamin and mineral levels in check and make sure your organs are working properly.
As you can see, potassium is an extremely important mineral for our health, no matter how old you are. The elderly, just like athletes, are especially affected by a lack of potassium. For the elderly, proper potassium levels mean less excretion through the urine and winning the fight against osteoporosis.
Athletes lose a lot of nutrients when they work out which prevents the regeneration of their muscles. Keeping their potassium levels in an optimal range will ensure proper muscle regeneration and eliminate fatigue.