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The benefits of potassium supplements for general health and wellbeing as well as fitness are becoming increasingly evident. It’s no surprise that the nutrition world is catching on and popularity in the wider community is rising.
If you think a potassium supplement is what you need, the next step is choosing a product that’s right for you. With so many options available, you’re probably wondering what’s the best potassium supplement?
I’ve taken a look at what’s out there and picked the best products on the market to share with you today. Read on to find out more.
What is Potassium?
Potassium is an essential mineral for maintenance of total body fluid volume, acid and electrolyte balance, and normal cell function. In this context, the term “essential” means our bodies cannot produce potassium. For that reason, we must get potassium from the foods we eat or through supplementation.
Potassium plays a part in a wide range of functions including:
- Boosts nervous system
- Maintains optimal fluid balance
- Improves bone health and muscle tissue growth
- Keeps brain functioning normally
- Prevents muscle cramps
- Maintains electrical conductivity in the brain
- Stabilizes blood sugar levels and blood pressure
- Maintains optimal muscle and nerve function
Where Can You Find Potassium?
When you initially think of potassium rich fruit, the first thing that comes to mind is probably a banana, right? Dietary guidelines state that one banana contains 422 mg of potassium per serving. However, this is not the highest concentration; prune juice packs a whopping 707 mg per serving.
Other fruits which are a good source of potassium include avocado, melon, papaya, and even dried fruits such as raisins.
Vegetables are another good choice when it comes to potassium. A simple baked potato has 941 mg per serving, followed closely by tomato or tomato paste which has 669 mg per serving.
Okra, broccoli and beets also contain the mineral. Other alternatives are leafy greens such as spinach or kale.
Dairy and Protein
Potassium can also be found in a number of dairy and protein food sources. Atlantic wild salmon has 534 mg per serving and plain yoghurt has 579 mg per serving.
Even plant based proteins like soy beans (edamame) contain 485 mg per serving. Other good alternatives are kidney beans, lentils, and many varieties of fish.
I would like to stress, this is just a selection of the foods which contain high levels of this beneficial mineral. When you start to contemplate all the natural food sources from which you can obtain potassium, the list would be simply exhaustive. Most people who eat a well balanced diet should be reaching their recommended intake.
You may be wondering, if potassium is easily found in so many natural sources, why would anyone need to take supplements? There are a few situations where supplements can be helpful. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons to take a potassium supplement.
Unfortunately, a large number of people don’t consume a healthy diet. According to a survey investigating dietary intake in comparison to daily recommendations, typical eating patterns were particularly low when it came to consumption of fruit (75% below) and vegetables (87% below), dairy (86% below) and oils (72% below). In comparison, they exceeded recommendations for added sugars (70% above), saturated fats (71% above) and sodium (89% above).
With an unbalanced diet, potassium deficiency is certainly a risk.
Other Reasons for Potassium Deficiency
Although a poor diet is considered the main cause of potassium deficiency, there are a number of other contributing factors. Potassium deficiency is more common in those who:
- Use medicines such as diuretics and certain birth control pills
- Have physically demanding jobs
- Are athletes
- Have health conditions that affect their digestive absorption, such as Crohn’s disease
- Have an eating disorder
- Abuse alcohol or drugs
The Dangers of Low Potassium Levels
According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) “non-communicable diseases are the main contributor to mortality and morbidity globally, killing more people each year than all other causes combined.”
Low potassium intake has been associated with a number of these diseases, including chronic kidney stone formation, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and low bone-mineral density.
High blood pressure is a major contributing factor for cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and stroke. Potassium is important for maintaining both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Research has shown that taking potassium supplements lowers blood pressure through its handling of sodium within the body.
The WHO tells us that diet-related diseases are chronic and take many years to manifest. A poor diet lacking in essential vitamins and minerals throughout childhood has a significant association with high blood pressure during adulthood.
How Much Potassium Do We Need?
The amount of potassium needed in your diet depends on your age and gender. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends a minimum of 4700 mg of potassium per day for individuals aged 14 and up. This is a good goal for adults to aim for, although women who are breast feeding should consider upping their potassium intake to 5100 mg per day.
It’s crucially important that children get enough potassium in their diet to prevent developing potassium deficiency linked diseases. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has set the following RDAs of potassium for children:
|14 years and up
You may think these figures are a difficult target to achieve, but because potassium is found in so many core food groups, most people can reach their goal without putting in much effort.
What About Supplements?
Although doctors would usually try to encourage improved diet in cases of potassium deficiency, on occasion supplements may be necessary. Although potassium in normal doses is considered safe, overdoses can be fatal. Therefore you should always be advised by a doctor before taking potassium supplements.
The Best Potassium Supplement
There are quite a few varieties of potassium supplements to choose from. It can be hard to tell which brand offers the best quality product. Here I’ll list my five picks for the best potassium supplement. I’ve also listed some pros and cons to help you make up your own mind.
For me, I have to say the best potassium supplement would have to be BulkSupplements Pure Potassium Citrate Powder.
This supplement is a pure no frills, “does what it says on the tin” kind of product which doesn’t have any additional additives or sweeteners and is as natural as possible.
It has 99 mg per serving which should give you a top up of any lost potassium. Also, with it being an unflavored powder, you could consume it in your favourite smoothie or add it to soups and stews which is great for anyone like me who hates taking pills. All in all, it is a good quality product which I think would make a good choice for anyone looking to boost their potassium levels.