My friend V is doing a series on nutrition for my blog. She is a healthy living enthusiast, loves tennis, and writes with passion! Here is the first installment in her series–
Potassium is essential to all life: plant, animal, and human. It is a chemical element on the periodic table, symbolized by the letter K (but not to be confused with Vitamin K). It is a micronutrient which helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balance within the body’s cells. Potassium is a key component in nerve transmissions and a chronic deficiency can result in cardiac dysfunctions and those pesky leg cramps you some times get when levels are low. Certain types of medications, including diuretics can cause potassium levels to drop, as it isa water-soluble vitamin, and is therefore eliminated through the urine.
How much potassium do we need each day? As of 2004, the guidelines put forth by the Institute of Medicine recommend a daily intake of 4000mg of potassium per day. In general, most Americans only consum about half that much. That may seem like a lot at first, and even if you fall below that intake, most healthy individuals don’t need to be concerned about being chronically deficient.
Where do we find potassium? If you’re like most people, the first thing that pops into your head is: Bananas! They are definitely a reliable source of potassium, but they are not the only source, and they aren’t even the source with the most potassium per serving! It’s best to consume portions of your daily intake throughout the day, rather than in one lump sum. Being water-soluble, the body will take only what it needs and will eliminate the rest. So taking one 4000mg serving of potassium isn’t going to give you everything you need for the day.
Here is a short (but by no means complete) list of foods considered high in potassium. The content is approximate where applicable.
1 c prune juice – 700mg
1 c cubed cantaloup – 494
1 c cubed honeydew – 461
1 sm banana – 467
1 kiwi – 252
1 sm orange / 1/2 c orange juice – 230
1 c tomato paste- 535
1 baked sweet potato (WITH skin) – 500
1/2 med avocado – 450
1/2 c cooked mushrooms – 277
1 c fresh or cooked asparagus – 288
See? There are a plethora of sources in which to find potassium! When striving towards a healthier lifestyle, you will most likely be adding in many of the foods on these lists anyway. Tomato paste, asparagus, and mushrooms sound like spaghetti night to me 🙂 and about 1/4 of your daily needs for potassium to boot!
I’ve included a link to the site where I found the nutrition content for the foods listed. The page has a massive list of foods containing this vital vitamin.