Your Guide To Potassium: Why We Need It + Food Sources

Your Guide To Potassium: Why We Need It + Food Sources

Potassium is an essential mineral that is required for our bodies to function properly and is needed by every tissue in the body. Its main role in the body is to help maintain normal levels of fluid inside our cells. It is sometimes referred to as an electrolyte because it carries a small electrical charge that activates various cell and nerve functions. 

In this blog post, you will learn:

👉🏼 What is potassium + what role does it play in the body?

👉🏼 What are the best food sources of potassium?

👉🏼 How much potassium should you consume each day?

👉🏼 How potassium interacts with other electrolytes like sodium and magnesium?

👉🏼 Who is at risk of potassium deficiency?

👉🏼 When should you consider potassium supplementation?

👉🏼 What are the different types of potassium supplements – and which one is right for you, if any?


Are you worried about nutritional deficiencies? Are you looking to optimise your diet and transform your health? Head to Consultations to see how I can help you start your journey to the healthiest version of yourself today!

What is Potassium?

Potassium is a mineral that your body needs to work properly, for so many reasons. From helping your nerves to function and muscles contract to keeping your heart beating regularly and moving nutrients into our cells, potassium is essential for effective growth and function. 


What are the best food sources of Potassium?

Potassium is naturally found in everyday foods. Dietary sources include bananas, dried fruits such as raisins and apricots, avocado, tomatoes, some vegetables such as broccoli, winter squash, spinach, parsnips and brussels sprouts, nuts and seeds, beans and pulses, fish, beef, chicken and turkey.


How much Potassium should you consume each day?

Adults need 3,500mg of potassium a day, which most people should be able to get from their diet. An avocado contains more than 10% of your daily potassium requirements.


Electrolytes: Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium

Sodium and potassium have complementary functions, meaning they work together – think of yin and yang. Both sodium and potassium helps to regulate things like fluid balance and blood pressure. We need to maintain a precise balance of potassium and sodium in our cells but our intake of potassium and sodium may vary greatly from day to day. So our bodies work to regulate this balance, with our kidneys flushing out any excesses into the urine and stool. 

Magnesium helps calcium and potassium travel across cells, allowing potassium to do its job in cell function. Low magnesium levels have been linked to low potassium.


Who is at risk of Potassium deficiency?

You can be at risk of developing low potassium levels if you become dehydrated or increase fluid losses, for example, with prolonged vomiting, diarrhoea or excessive sweating. Certain digesitve conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis may impair nutrient absorption and can be known to lead to potassium deficiencies. 

For those who take certain medicines, such as diuretics, these can increase the amount of potassium you lose via your urine. It’s important to note that it’s rare for potassium deficiency to be caused by a low food intake alone without one of the above (sweating, vomiting, diuretics use etc.)


Should You Consider A Potassium Supplement?

We’ve seen that potassium is needed to maintain good health and body function. A balanced diet usually supplies all the potassium we need, although potassium supplements may be needed by individuals with a deficiency, or who have lost too much potassium because of excessive sweating, illness or treatment with certain medicines

Be aware that too much potassium can cause health problems so before you consider taking a potassium supplement, always speak to a nutritionist or health professional. 


What Should You Look For In A Potassium Supplement?

In dietary supplements, potassium can often be found as potassium chloride, but also in many other forms—including potassium citrate, phosphate, aspartate, bicarbonate, and gluconate. This will often be found as part of an electrolyte complex. 

Only a few studies have examined how well the various forms of potassium in dietary supplements are absorbed. With potassium playing such a pivotal role in the day-to-day function of our bodies, it’s important to speak to a nutritionist or health professional before searching for a potassium supplement that’s right for you! 


Everyone’s nutritional requirements will be different, which is why I take a personalised approach with all of my 1:1 clients and tailor each nutrition plan (and supplement recommendation) to their unique needs and goals.


This is just a small insight into the types of things I discuss with my 1:1 clients. If you’re looking to optimise your nutrition, transform your health and elevate your quality of life, please get in contact via Consultations or book a FREE 15-minute call and let’s chat about how I can help.


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