Potassium role in lowering blood pressure, importance of sodium-potassium balance

By: Emily Lunardo | General Health | Sunday, November 29, 2015 - 11:00 AM

Recommended potassium intake

When it comes to healthy blood pressure, you need to balance your intake of sodium and potassium. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is when the pressure of blood flow pushes against veins. High blood pressure can contribute to other major heart events and even stroke. High blood pressure can be symptomless and if not monitored will only reveal itself through a major heart event. This is why it’s so important to monitor your blood pressure and take preventative measures to keep it in the normal range.

One way a person can control their blood pressure is through potassium. Potassium is an essential mineral that our bodies require. Research suggests that by taking potassium you can better manage your blood pressure.

Recommended potassium intake

Potassium is naturally found within the body as well as in many of the foods we eat. Therefore, getting an ample supply of it is quite easy. Potassium is used in the body in many ways, but one function in particular is to support heart health.

Because the typical American diet is high in sodium it can lead to potassium deficiencies. High sodium has been linked to high blood pressure as well. Therefore, to combat the effects of sodium, it’s essential to get in adequate amounts of potassium.

The current recommendation for potassium is 4,700 mg a day for those over the age of 14.

As mentioned, potassium can be found in many health foods including leafy greens, fruits, grain products, dairy and meat.

Potassium-sodium balance effect on blood pressure levels

Potassium-sodium balance effect on blood pressure levelsThe American Heart Association (AHA) suggests eating foods that contain potassium is a good way to boost potassium levels and better manage blood pressure. Potassium can flush out excess salt from our diet. Salt has been linked to increased blood pressure. Potassium works to weed out salt through a process that occurs in the kidneys.

The kidneys control fluid within the body. Excess fluid gets pulled into the bladder where urine is formed. Both sodium and potassium are used during this process to bring the fluid into the bladder. A diet high in sodium disrupts the balance between salt and potassium, making this pulling of fluid much more difficult. By increasing potassium intake, balance can be restored again, leading to healthier kidneys and improved blood pressure.

6 additional health benefits of potassium

health benefits of potassiumNot only is potassium helpful to aid with blood pressure, but it can offer other health benefits as well.

Stroke prevention: Potassium works to boost oxygen to the brain, preventing stroke.

Blood sugar: Potassium can work to maintain healthy blood sugar. A drop in potassium can lead to a drop in blood sugar resulting in symptoms like headache, sweating and even fainting.

Muscles: Potassium aids in the function of our muscles. Additionally it can prevent muscle cramping. Potassium also plays a role in muscles strength.

Bones: Potassium helps to preserve calcium in the bones leading to stronger, healthier bones.

Metabolism: Potassium helps metabolize nutrients leading to more energy.

Anxiety: Potassium can help reduce symptoms associated with stress and anxiety and can help stabilize mood. Maybe the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, opt for a banana!

As you can see, potassium can greatly improve bodily functions and can offer many health benefits. Ensuring that you’re getting in the recommended amount is essential to overall good health. But take note: too much potassium isn’t good. To avoid over-consuming potassium see a doctor to check your levels.


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Related Reading:

Sodium-potassium balance in diet critical in chronic kidney disease prevention

Potassium-rich foods may lower stroke risk in postmenopausal women: Study

Sources:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Potassium-and-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_303243_Article.jsp
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16467502
https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/minerals/health-benefits-of-potassium.html
http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3484163/k.E95/Stroke__High_blood_pressure_hypertension.htm
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09355.html
http://www.medicaldaily.com/blood-pressure-friendly-diet-potassium-can-help-improve-blood-pressure-while-salt-has-330832

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