Potassium deficiency can lead to multiple health problems. So, learn how to increase potassium levels in your body.

Potassium is an essential mineral for our body. There are multiple health benefits of a potassium-rich diet – from regulating blood pressure and reducing water retention to prevention of stroke, bone issues and kidney stones. If you don’t want to experience issues such as muscle weakness or irregular heartbeats, make sure you get the right amount of potassium. Food is one way to meet the potassium demands by your body, but you can do more. Read on to know how to increase potassium levels.

Why do you need potassium?

Potassium is an electrolyte. Its reactive nature in water empowers it to produce electricity which is vital to the smooth functioning of multiple processes in the body. A potassium deficiency, also called hypokalaemia, can potentially lead to muscle cramps, fatigue, irregular heartbeat and more.

As per the National Institutes of Health, women aged 19 and above need 2,600 mg of potassium every day.

Bananas are rich in potassium. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Here are some reasons why you need potassium, as explained by clinical nutritionist Samreen Saniya.

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1. Nerve transmission

Potassium plays a key role in nerve impulse transmission which helps in the generation and propagation of nerve impulses. This contributes to proper communication between nerve cells.

2. Muscle contraction

Potassium is essential for normal muscle function. It helps in regulating muscle contractions, ensuring proper coordination and strength in muscle movements.

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3. Fluid balance

Potassium is involved in maintaining the balance of fluids in and out of cells. This electrolyte helps regulate osmotic pressure, preventing imbalances which can lead to dehydration or excess fluid retention.

4. Heart function

Potassium is crucial for maintaining a normal heartbeat, and helps in the electrical conduction of the heart. This ensures the proper rhythm and functioning of the vital organ.

How to increase potassium levels?

You can begin by eating the right foods to increase potassium level in your body. Here are some ways to include potassium-rich foods in your diet.

1. Banana

Banana is a convenient and popular potassium source. Add sliced bananas to your bowl of cereal or enjoy them as a snack, suggests the expert. You can also blend two bananas with yogurt or milk to create a potassium-rich banana smoothie.

2. Sweet potato

Roast or bake sweet potatoes as a side dish. You can even mash them for a nutritious alternative to regular mashed potatoes.

sweet potato
Bake sweet potatoes to increase potassium intake. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Spinach

There are many main course dishes that revolve around spinach. You can also incorporate spinach into salads or omelettes. Combining spinach with carrot and beetroot, and drinking it as a juice is another option.

4. Orange

Besides vitamin C, oranges are a good potassium source. Eat them as a whole fruit or go for fresh orange juice.

5. Avocado

Spread avocado on whole-grain toast. You can also add it to salads to increase your potassium intake.

6. Potassium supplements

Potassium supplements are recommended to people who have been diagnosed with potassium deficiency. Potassium level below 3.5 milliequivalents per liter are generally considered low and may be indicative of hypokalemia, says Saniya. It is a condition characterised by insufficient potassium in the bloodstream.

Some of the potassium supplement options are potassium chloride tablets or capsules, potassium gluconate tablets or liquid. There are also formulations designed to release potassium slowly over time, reducing the risk of upsetting your stomach.

7. Intravenous potassium

If you want to know how to increase potassium levels quickly, you must know that intravenous potassium is also given when the potassium level is very low. Potassium chloride injection is a common form used in hospitals to rapidly replenish potassium level. Potassium acetate injection is another intravenous option, sometimes used as an alternative to potassium chloride.

The choice and dosage of intravenous or oral potassium supplements depends on the individual’s medical condition, potassium level and overall health. Only your doctor should determine the appropriate form and dosage.

Excessive potassium intake, especially through supplements, can result in a condition called hyperkalemia. It might cause symptoms like irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness or numbness. In severe cases, elevated potassium can impact the muscles involved in breathing, leading to difficulty in breathing. So, make sure you don’t overdo it.

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