We often associate potassium with bananas, but in reality there are plenty of other potassium-rich foods. Some of these foods even have more potassium than a banana! This mineral is crucial for organs such as the heart and kidneys. A diet low in potassium can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, arthritis, cancer, digestive disorders, and even infertility. People with too much salt in their diet may also benefit from increasing their potassium intake, as this is thought to offset some of the damage done by a high-sodium diet.
Just as too little potassium can be bad for you, having too much in your bloodstream can be dangerous. Once our body has used everything it needs to function, excess potassium remains in the blood and is removed as waste via the kidneys. For this reason, people with chronic kidney disease or similar kidney problems should avoid consuming too much potassium. In extreme cases, very high potassium levels can cause cardiac arrest.
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How Much Potassium Do I Need?
Current dietary advice suggests that healthy adults should consume between 3,500 and 4,700 mg of potassium daily. Women require marginally less potassium than men. As such, they can get by with a daily intake towards the bottom end of this scale. Unfortunately, most Americans do not consume anywhere near enough potassium and could be risking their health as a result.
Keep in mind that your doctor may recommend a lower potassium intake if you have:
- Heart disease;
- Kidney problems, or;
- Any chronic illness which may be worsened by a high-potassium diet.