I never realized how important potassium benefits are up until recently.
My blood pressure has always been normal, but in 2017 I found out it was slightly elevated. It came as a surprise because I eat healthily and move as much as I can. I ended up wearing a cuff that monitored my blood pressure for 24 hours.
It turns out menopause affects our BP, and in many ways. This is where potassium comes in. Potassium is a nutrient that helps regulate and maintain blood pressure.
Most of us immediately think of sodium when talking about blood pressure. But do you know that potassium regulates sodium? Potassium may just be the bigger mineral to focus on!
Let’s find out about this overlooked nutrient and great tips to balance potassium!
What is Potassium and How Does it Work?
Potassium naturally produced by the body is called an electrolyte. Electrolytes have positive or negative electrical charges. These compounds are scattered in many parts of your body such as the tissues, urine, blood and other body fluids.
Your body produces electrolytes to maintain many functions such as pH balance, muscle contractions, fluid balance, nervous system regulation and a lot more! Potassium, in particular, keeps our heartbeat normal, holds body fluids in place and maintains metabolism. The electrolyte also breaks down protein into amino acids and helps build muscles.
Our body produces electrolytes every day, but as the amazing boundary-pushers we are, we put our electrolyte balance under threat. Our “modern life” makes us stressed, eat poorly and expose ourselves to extreme environments. All these deplete our electrolytes!
To meet your electrolyte needs, you can take an active role by eating a healthy diet and living a healthy lifestyle!
Potassium found in your food sources are simply minerals. They are less potent forms of electrolytes and have no electrical charges. As a mineral, potassium serves as a co-factor in chemical reactions and body functions.
Together with other electrolytes and minerals, like calcium and sodium, potassium has a tremendous amount of work keeping your organs functioning at their best.
Dr. Berg has an interesting video on how potassium interacts with other electrolytes and why it’s the most important electrolyte [9:59]!
11 Best Potassium Benefits During Menopause
Potassium is helpful throughout life, but it’s especially important when you’re going through menopause. Potassium benefits you in many ways:
1. Potassium lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke.
The mineral’s protective effect on your heart is one of the best potassium benefits. Stress, poor lifestyle and hormonal imbalances increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. A study from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York says that postmenopausal women who eat more potassium are less likely to suffer from a stroke.
2. Potassium provides nourishment to your heart muscles.
Potassium feeds your smooth muscles which forms your entire heart system. It also prevents plaque buildup, keeping your blood vessels healthy. This leads to better blood flow for critical organs like hormone-producing glands, and to avoid heart palpitations.
3. Potassium has anti-stress properties.
Potassium keeps your adrenal glands healthy and regulates cortisol. It also helps build your hormones, such as serotonin, which promotes mind and body relaxation.
4. Potassium is calcium’s official body distributor.
Potassium drops calcium off to organs that need it. As a result, the risk of muscle wasting, twitches, cramps and weakness decreases. It also strengthens your bones and regulates magnesium. Magnesium prevents your blood from becoming too acidic, which may deplete calcium. All these reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
5. Potassium eases anxiety, depression and mood swings.
Potassium builds and regulates serotonin. This hormone calms the central nervous system. Serotonin is also a happy hormone that regulates mood. Like what it does for calcium, potassium facilitates the use of serotonin in our brain. Potassium tells serotonin to go to the neurons in our brain that are in-charge of positive thinking and happy feelings.
6. Potassium boosts your metabolism.
Potassium positively benefits your metabolism! The mineral keeps your thyroid healthy, and in turn, the organ produces enough thyroid hormones.
7. Potassium keeps your nerves and muscles healthy.
When potassium interacts with calcium and sodium, they produce action potentials. Actions potentials tell your nerves and muscles to contract and relax. Muscle contractions open up your blood vessels, allowing better blood circulation. Muscle relaxation, on the one hand, helps your muscles recover from the wear and tear of everyday contractions.
8. Potassium maintains normal blood pressure.
This function of your potassium is one of the most widely studied. Many physicians use dietary potassium as one of the remedies for hypertension. Potassium regulates sodium, which prevents fluid retention, decreases blood volume and in turn, regulates blood pressure. Potassium also gives your liver and kidneys a helping hand so they can detoxify harmful substances and toxins, which may increase your blood pressure.
9. Potassium prevents swelling.
Potassium regulates sodium, which is a water lover. It also maintains fluids and electrolytes by balancing your osmotic pressure. When osmotic pressure is normal, your body fluids stay where they should be – they do not leak in unwanted places and cause swelling.
10. Potassium keeps your gut healthy!
Potassium improves digestion and keeps fluids in your gut balanced. It also maintains natural gut flora, preventing harmful bacteria from overgrowing.
11. Potassium maintains normal blood sugar levels.
Potassium benefits your pancreas in many ways. It helps in insulin production and makes cells more sensitive to insulin. This allows better transport of glucose to your cells, which normalizes blood sugar levels.
With all the countless potassium benefits in menopause, it’s important to get your daily dose of this mineral with good sources of potassium. Read on to our next section!
8 Healthy Ways to Balance Potassium!
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends taking around 3,500 mg to 4,700 mg of potassium daily for adults. That’s nearly five times more than your daily calcium (1000 mg) needs and 600 times more iron (18 mg) and (8 mg) zinc!
Here are 8 healthy ways to balance potassium levels!
1. Make a big salad every day.
Go for potassium-rich vegetables and leafy greens, such as spinach, lettuce, bok choy and Swiss Chard. Tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, mushrooms and acorn squash are also good sources of potassium. You can also sprinkle some flax seeds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds and olive oil on top! Get our best tips to make a healthy and delicious salad in under 5 minutes!
2. Whip up a potassium-powered smoothie.
Apart from your leafy greens, you can use potassium-rich fruits like your berries, cantaloupe, papaya, banana, mango, kiwi, orange and avocado. Just watch out for the sugar!
3. Munch on a potassium-rich snack.
Sweet potatoes, dried apricots, prunes and Greek yogurt are great snacks if you want to increase potassium. Nuts and seeds, like almonds, chestnuts, dried watermelon seeds, cashews and dried coconut are good!
4. Eat the right kinds of protein!
Salmon, halibut and sardines are rich in potassium and are rich in omega-3, which is good for the heart. Organic lean meat and chicken are also good protein sources of potassium.
5. Careful trying new diets.
A ketogenic diet, for example, makes your potassium levels plummet. If you want to start a new way of eating, don’t forget to consume more vegetables to replenish potassium.
6. Slow down on the caffeine and alcohol!
Coffee and alcoholic beverages are silent diuretics. You pee a lot and flush out potassium too.
7. Ditch all processed and fast foods!
Food additives can flush out potassium in the body. They also contain a lot of salt, which upsets the sodium-potassium balance.
8. Consider supplementing.
If you’re deficient (which you can find out by taking a potassium test), you may want to consider taking supplements. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recommends less than 100 milligrams (mg) per dose. A friendly reminder, consult your doctor before taking anything!
While supplementing is helpful, the best route to get more potassium benefits during menopause, is to eat potassium-rich foods!
Dr. Berg says these veggies have the best sources of potassium:
- Beet tops – 1,300 mg
- Avocado – 975 mg
- Lima Beans – 975 mg
- Spinach – 839 mg
- Salmon – 839 mg
- Squash – 801 mg
- Brussels Sprouts – 504 mg
Dr. Berg talks more about the top potassium sources I mentioned above in his video. Watch it here [2:20]:
Pro-active steps can be really helpful to keep your potassium levels in check. Eat a balanced diet!
If you experience symptoms, always remember to take note of your symptoms and get yourself checked.
Want to know how other nutrients can help you?
Go to our help and self-help page!
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