What is potassium?
One of the three most abundant minerals in our bodies, potassium conducts the electricity needed to power an array of biological processes. From balancing fluid levels and slowing your heart rate to activating nerve impulses and controlling cell function, potassium is an essential electrolyte for good health. Here’s how potassium works to boost your energy and endurance levels, optimize your workouts, and reduce your risk of life-threatening diseases.
What does potassium do for your body?
LOWERS BLOOD PRESSURE.
Potassium is an essential component of any healthy diet, especially for those diagnosed with high blood pressure. Potassium aids in the dilation of your blood vessels, optimizing blood flow and decreases blood pressure to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. When your potassium levels are too low, your blood vessels contract, also known as vasoconstriction. Narrower blood vessels make it more difficult for blood to flow to essential organs.
Eliminates excess sodium from the body.
Potassium and sodium work together to maintain good heart and bone health. The higher the level of potassium in the blood, the more sodium eliminated through urine. Think of this partnership as a checks-and-balances system. And one of the reasons why sodium is considered a health risk is because the average American doesn’t get enough potassium in their diet. The key to good heart health is balancing your potassium and sodium levels. (But that’s enough about sodium — we’ve covered that in more detail in another article.)
Helps prevent stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Studies show that potassium-rich diets significantly lower the risk of stroke by regulating blood pressure. Some evidence also suggests that low potassium and high glucose levels are correlated, and that adequate potassium intake therefore reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
While calcium often receives the credit for strengthening bones, potassium also increases bone density. Potassium is also thought to help bones retain calcium.
Regulates blood sugar and helps prevent type 2 diabetes.
Studies show that adequate potassium intake may prevent type 2 diabetes. Potassium deficiency is thought to increase blood sugar levels, which leads to insulin resistance. When this occurs, cells don’t process insulin normally, causing glucose to build up in the cells.
Aids in protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism.
In simpler terms, potassium helps create the vital proteins that keep cells, tissues, and organs functioning properly. It also helps the body turn carbohydrates into energy.
How does potassium relate to my lifestyle?
Electrolytes power your body’s vital functions. But how does that translate into your everyday life?
Boosts your energy levels and endurance
Inadequate potassium intake results in fatigue, as well as muscle pain and weakness. A breakfast containing potassium-rich fruits, enjoyed with your favorite BrightFox flavor, can give you the boost you need to start your morning or finish your workday strong.
Fuels your workout
Potassium conducts electricity, promotes proper nerve function, and breaks down the glycogen in muscle cells, making it an essential component of your workout routine. Studies show that adequate potassium levels enhance endurance, stave off fatigue, and reduce the risk of muscle cramps.
Potassium is lost through sweat, urine, and processes in the digestive tract, which means you’ll need to replenish your potassium levels throughout the course of your workout for optimal performance.
How much potassium do you need?
The optimal levels of potassium vary based on what you’re doing, how old you are, whether you have pre-existing conditions, and a number of other factors. Dietary habits also impact potassium needs. Indeed, even the recommended amounts of potassium vary across health institutes by as much as 2,000 mg. More often than not, it’s safe to say the more potassium, the better, especially considering that most Americans don’t get enough potassium. (We’ll discuss that in more detail later in this article.)
What foods are rich in potassium?
When most people hear the word “potassium,” they probably envision bananas. And while bananas are known for being potassium-rich, many other fruits also contain high levels of potassium. Other potassium-rich foods include starchy vegetables, lentils, beans, lean meats, and dairy products.
BrightFox also contains a healthy, hydrating dose of potassium — 84 milligrams, to be exact (the equivalent of roughly half of a banana) — in addition to an abundance of other vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes your body needs to function optimally.
Are certain people at risk of potassium deficiency?
People diagnosed with inflammatory bowel diseases and those taking certain medications may be at risk for potassium deficiency. Inflammation of the bowels inhibits the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, including potassium. Those diagnosed with such conditions, including Crohn’s disease, may benefit from potassium supplementation.
What happens when you don’t get enough potassium?
Potassium deficiency causes a range of health problems, including kidney stones and the depletion of calcium in the bones. Fortunately, serious symptoms associated with potassium deficiency are rare.
Is it possible to consume too much potassium?
Because excess amounts of potassium pass through the urine, overconsumption is highly unlikely in people with healthy kidneys. People with certain kidney disorders have an increased risk of developing high potassium levels.
Potassium: The bottom line
A complex electrolyte that fuels many of our body’s vital functions, potassium is essential for energy and endurance. Because it regulates everything from blood sugar to blood pressure, consuming adequate amounts of potassium is essential for good heart and bone health. Unfortunately, the majority of us don’t get enough potassium. But the good news is, potassium is readily available in many fruits, vegetables, and premium hydration beverages like BrightFox.