NOTE: Before we start discussing how to get enough potassium, we want to stress that you should always consult with your doctor or professional nutritionist before changing your diet.
Only a blood test from your doctor will be able to tell you if your potassium is low.
While low potassium levels can affect your overall health, having too much potassium in your body can also cause health issues, including serious illness or death.
You can listen to our discussion here or read on for a quick summary:
What Is It?
We hear a lot about the importance of nutrients like protein, fiber, iron, and calcium to a balanced diet, but potassium…not so much (except in the case of extreme exercise).
Like sodium and calcium, the mineral potassium is an electrolyte. Electrolytes are essential to our bodies for performing important functions such as:
- Keeping us hydrated
- Regulating muscle contractions
- Regulating nervous system functions
Why Do We Need Potassium?
This mineral helps our bodies regulate:
- Heart function
- Kidney function
- Nerve transmission
- Muscle contraction
It can help protect against strokes, prevent osteoporosis, and prevent kidney stones.
How Much Do I Need?
In the video below, Dr. Michael Greger discusses the fact that less than 2% of Americans get their recommended daily intake of potassium.
Requirements vary depending on sex, age, and other health factors, so the best way to determine your specific daily requirement is to reference a chart like the one found on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. Use this chart to find your recommended daily amount of potassium and then discuss your specific needs with your doctor.
What are the Symptoms of Low Potassium Levels?
Potassium deficiency (also known as Hypokalemia) has several symptoms, including:
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle cramps or twitching
- Frequent urination
- Nausea and/or digestive problems
- Tingling in hands/feet and numbness
- Increased blood sugar levels
How Can I Ensure I’m Getting Enough Potassium?
The body doesn’t produce potassium on its own. As a result, we need to get it from food.
While there are supplements, the BEST way to ensure you’re getting enough is by eating potassium-rich foods.
Here is a list of some foods of those foods:
- Dried Apricots
- Beans and Lentils
- Potatoes (white or sweet)
- Tomato sauce
- Coconut water
- Portobello mushrooms
- Orange, tomato, prune, grapefruit, and apricot juice
It’s INCREDIBLE how eating a whole food plant-based diet can help your body function properly and FEEL so much better! Don’t forget to consult with a doctor or licensed nutritionist before making any drastic changes to your diet.
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Further Reading and Resources Used for this Episode:
- National Institutes of Health
- What are Electrolytes?
- 98% of American Diets are Potassium-Deficient
- What Does Potassium Do for Your Body
- Potassium Rich Foods
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Thanks for listening!
Peace and Veggies,
Vickie and Larissa