The World Health Organization released a report last year, stating that nearly everybody (99.7% of US citizens and, surprisingly the number was somehow slightly higher for Mexicans and Brits) is low on potassium. Those statistics almost make this article superfluous, but let’s soldier on anyway.
Potassium is an important electrolyte. We need the stuff for proper hydration and to regulate sodium which is especially important if you’re gobbling down processed foods at all. It’s also vital for heart function and different types of muscle contractions. But it’s also been linked to scads of health and athletic benefits. Here are a few.
Lower Blood Pressure
Studies have shown that not getting enough dietary potassium has been linked to high blood pressure. Basically, potassium helps balance sodium levels in the kidneys. Having too little or too much potassium can throw your system and blood pressure out of whack.
Improved Muscle Mass
Adequate potassium intake has been shown to help maintain muscle mass, especially important for the aging and the aging athlete.
Potassium has been linked to healthier, stronger bones. Those who are at the highest risk for osteoporosis should take note.
Staves off Muscle Fatigue
One of the early warning signs that you’re heading toward full-on potassium deficiency or hypokalemia is muscle fatigue. The average person isn’t generally at risk for hypokalemia, but several conditions including malnutrition, over-training, excessive sweating, some medications and digestive ailments can bring on a potassium deficiency.
Athletes Need More
After running a long race, you’re often greeted with a bottle of water and a banana at the end. The water is for hydration. The banana is for potassium. Your body uses a lot of potassium during exercise, so it’s important to load up on potassium before, during and after.
May Reduce Stroke Risk
A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that when test subjects increased their potassium intake by 1600 mg, it decreased their risk of stroke by 21%.
Potassium-Rich Diets Are Good For Diabetics
A study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology has found that diabetics who had higher levels of potassium in their urine seemed to have a slower decline of kidney function and reported fewer heart problems and complications overall.