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No doubt you’ve heard many times that Americans get too much salt, too much sugar, and too much saturated fat in our diets. But what about those important nutrients women don’t get enough of? Calcium and vitamin D are commonly talked about, but one nutrient that doesn’t get as much attention is potassium. Many women ask, “Can’t I get that from my multivitamin?” The answer is no, it isn’t added to most multivitamins for women and the research shows we’re much better off getting it from food, not a supplement, because the form of potassium that’s in fruits and vegetables is different than what is in supplements (potassium chloride) and our bodies better utilize the potassium in food.
Potassium is a mineral found primarily in fruits, vegetables and dairy foods. It has been shown to help lower blood pressure in people who have hypertension and can help blunt the effects of a high sodium diet, which worsens high blood pressure. Potassium also makes blood vessels less stiff and helps decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease.
For athletes (adults and teens), potassium is important for fluid and electrolyte balance after a hard workout or sporting event and can help prevent muscle cramps and spasms. Since food works better than a supplement, skip the sports drink and instead combine a couple high potassium foods from my FREE list of high potassium foods* (see below for details).
A deficiency in potassium can cause fatigue, insomnia, depression, muscular weakness and heart and circulation problems. If you suffer from muscle cramps or those very painful, toe-crossing cramps in your feet, make sure you’re getting enough potassium and magnesium to help prevent cramping.
How much do I need?
Most adults need 4,700mg of potassium per day, according to the National Academy of Medicine (except if you have kidney problems, then you may need to avoid eating high potassium foods). However, women only get an average of 2300mg per day, or just about half of what they need. Citrus fruits, bananas, cantaloupe, and apricots are a good source of potassium, while dark leafy greens, beans, squash and tomatoes are some vegetables with a fair bit of potassium (potatoes too if you eat the skin).
*FREE* -- High Potassium Foods
For my complete list of potassium-rich foods showing the specific potassium content and including dairy and other foods high in potassium, send a request to Jill@jillwestrd.com and I’ll gladly send you a FREE copy!