The main benefits of potassium
I think most people know of the main benefits of potassium supporting a healthy heart, supporting healthy blood sugars, helping bounce on your fluids, things like that. But there are some unexpected, very interesting benefits of potassium.
What is potassium?
I think you should know about, well, out of all, the minerals, potassium is needed in the largest quantity. You need 4,700 milligrams of potassium every single day. You don’t even require a fraction of that quantity for other nutrients. So with potassium, it’s unique in that you need a lot of it primarily because it supports two major areas, the muscles, and the nerves. You have these little tiny pumps to call it sodium-potassium pumps. You have billions of them in the muscles and the nervous system and allowing the muscles and nerves to work. It also is necessary and produces energy. So let me go through a couple of really important points about potassium.
Potassium deficiency causes
The first is, why are we deficient? Because an average person, especially in the U S only consumes about a cup and a half of vegetables per day, and vegetables are probably one of the better sources of potassium. And so a cup and a half of vegetables are just not going to be even close to what you need. You’re going to need between seven to 10 cups to get closer to that 4,700 milligrams and include other foods that have potassium as well. Now, if you look up what foods are high in potassium, they will tell you it’s fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and things like that.
If you look at half of a cup of whole grains, okay, you’re going to get less than about 200 milligrams of potassium. And on top of that, whole grains have phytic acid, which blocks minerals, especially potassium, especially phosphorus, zinc, copper, magnesium, and manganese. So whole grains are not a good source of potassium or minerals.
You say, what about refined grains? Well, when you’re fine grains, you reach out and lose minerals. Not to mention all that refined flour that turns into glucose, which then requires potassium to help in its storage of glucose. In other words, the more refined grains or sugar that you consume, the less potassium you’re going to have, that’s going to be available because it’s going to be locked up in the storage of that stored sugar as glycogen, leaving you with a potassium deficiency.
Just as a side note, for those of you that are on the ketogenic diet, when you do keto and you switch your fuel from burning sugar, okay, to burning fat, you’re going to be using up this stored sugar, this stored glycogen, and that is going to release a lot of fluid in your tissues. And with that loss of fluid comes a loss of electrolytes, including potassium. So when you start on a ketogenic diet and you don’t substitute that potassium, you may end up with Kito fatigue.
What about getting your potassium from fruit? Well, fruit does have some potassium, like one apple would give you just under 200 milligrams of potassium, but again, we need 4,700. So how many apples would you have to consume? And then also what about all that sugar that comes with fruit? So fruit also is not the best source of potassium because it comes with a lot of sugar.
What about fish or, or beef? Well, fish will actually give you potassium, like a half a filet will give you up to 600 milligrams of potassium, three ounces of beef. We’ll give you 270 milligrams of potassium. So all these other foods will contribute to adding up to the requirements you need for potassium.
Apotato, okay. One medium-sized potato will give you 800 milligrams of potassium, but it’ll also give you a lot of starch. And so we don’t want to consume potatoes. The best source of potassium is leafy greens, avocados, and certain grains will give you more potassium than others like Swiss, chard, and beet tops. And the other cool thing about eating enough grains is that it will also give you magnesium. And one interesting thing about potassium is you could be deficient in potassium if you’re low in magnesium. So both of those minerals are needed together.
We can become deficient with potassium through diet, which is a very common reason, but also the more stress you have, the more potassium you will lose, the more sugar you eat, the more caffeine you consume, the more alcohol, the less potassium you’re going to have in your body diuretics, for example, are a common reason why people are deficient in potassium. If you consume too much salt, you can become deficient in potassium because sodium-potassium work together.
So the more salt you consume, the more potassium you need. And that also goes with the more potassium you consume, the more salt you need, because they both function in their normal ratios. But typically we need at least twice as much potassium as we do sodium and salt, so when you injure yourself or you go through surgery, your body dumps potassium, all right.
Unexpected potassium benefits
So now let’s dive into some of the benefits that are unexpected from potassium.
cognitive benefits. Remember I talked about the nerves and the muscles meeting potassium. Well, guess what? You have nerves in your brain. So your brain needs potassium. And when you have sufficient potassium, you support cognitive function, memory, focus, and concentration. And when you’re deficient in potassium, you become a bit disoriented.
cerebellum support. What is the cerebellum it’s the back part of your brain? That involved coordinated and controlled movements. And so if you’re deficient in potassium, you can be a little uncoordinated. I wonder how many, children that are not coordinated are just deficient in potassium. Since an average child’s diet probably doesn’t get any potassium at all. Um, they consume a lot of ultra-processed junk food.
mood support. Potassium supports your mood. Potassium can help take you out of a flight or fight mode like a sympathetic nervous system dominant situation. So potassium is really good for people that are in stress. Potassium is very important in calming a person down potassium will help uplift someone and bring them up. Potassium will help make a person less irritable, less worried, and less fearful. So potassium is really, really important and stress and also stress depletes potassium.
potassium will make your muscles stronger. This means when you exercise, you will be less fatigued now to be totally transparent. I do sell a high potassium electrolyte powder, which I challenge you to do an experiment on yourself with exercise, because you may notice an improvement in endurance. The times you take that electrolyte powder versus the times that you don’t. But as a side note, anytime you take a high potassium, electrolyte powder and you’re exercising also make sure that you’re adding more sea salt with that because as you sweat, you’re going to lose potassium as well as sodium. And you can also experience fatigue from a loss of sodium, just as you could from a loss of potassium.
potassium can protect you against leg cramps. A lot of people think that leg cramps are always a magnesium deficiency, but you can also experience cramps from a potassium deficiency too.
potassium counters the effect of high sodium, like I said before, potassium and sodium work together. And so an average person on a regular diet is going to be much heavier on the sodium balance than the potassium. And so all these things you hear about the negative aspects of too much salt, in reality, are just in a deficiency of potassium because potassium protects you against the side effects of too much salt and excessive salt is one of the causes of low potassium.
potassium can help you have regular bowel movements. So it helps to protect you against constipation. Why? Because, as I said before, potassium is involved with muscle and nerve and your colon is smooth muscle. And so if you’re deficient in potassium, that smooth muscle is not going to work as well as it should.