Potassium is a fundamental nutrient that supports the muscles, cells, and nerves. But, to really see the potassium levels importance, you first need to understand the link between this nutrient and the heart. Here, we compiled all the information you need, including how to interpret the levels of potassium in the system and tips for managing them properly.
How Potassium Aids the Heart?
Potassium has a very important role to play in each heartbeat. It triggers the heart squeezing and supports healthy blood flow through the entire body.
That means that the body is relying on potassium over 100,000 times per day.
For the cardiovascular system to be working properly, people need just the right amount of potassium in their system. If they take too little, they can develop a deficiency, but if they take too much, they are prone to hyperkalemia. So, what’s the right amount?
According to WHO, the ideal recommended intake is:
- 3,510 mg/day for adults
- 2,000 mg/day for toddlers
- 2,300 mg/day for girls
- 3,000 mg/day for boys
How to Interpret Potassium Levels
Now that you understand the potassium levels importance, it’s time to figure out how to read your lab results.
This is the primary step to managing the potassium levels in the system. Yes, it can be a little tricky to interpret lab results. That’s why we prepared a guide that will show you the ropes. Here is what your results are trying to show you.
- Normal levels – 3.5 – 5.5 mg/dL
- Dangerously low levels – 3.5 mg/dL or less
- High levels – 5.6 – 6.0 mg/dL
- Dangerously high levels – 6.0 mg/dL or higher
Is There a Home Blood Test for Potassium Levels?
Many people are asking if there is a way they can monitor their own potassium levels. Because of the high interest in a home potassium test, a British company started developing the very first at-home potassium testing kit in 2019. The product is still in its testing phase but could hit the market very soon.
7 Tips to Manage the Potassium Levels Properly
The good news is, no matter if you are prone to having too high or too low potassium levels, you can always keep the nutrient in check. Here are some practical tips that can help you do exactly that.
1. Pay Attention to the Food You Eat
Like any other mineral, potassium too, can be found in foods. You just need to know what to pick. If your body constantly lacks this nutrient, it could mean you are not getting it from your diet.
To replenish your potassium levels, try to include more:
- Leafy greens
If you are a fan of smoothies and detox drinks, you can use:
Note: Don’t eat too much of any of these foods. Otherwise, you may cause a problem for your body, particularly if you have kidney disease. Contact your dietitian or healthcare provider if you think a rich potassium diet may interfere with your health condition.
2. Skip the Salt Substitutes
Most substitutes for salt are either packed with potassium chloride or mixed with sodium chloride (regular salt). While they may be a good choice when trying to reduce sodium intake, they can increase blood pressure. If you are not careful enough, you may also get extra potassium in the system.
3. Watch the Supplements
Taking potassium supplements can be useful for individuals with low potassium levels. But, patients with kidney diseases are not advised to take them. Consult your doctor if you like to implement any similar supplements in your diet.
4. Manage the Constipation
When the muscles in the colon don’t work properly, they can result in constipation. This could be a clear indicator of low potassium levels in the system. The deficiency starts to affect the bowel movements and cause a problem for the body.
To fix it, try drinking plenty of water and exercising.
5. Monitor Your Blood Sugar Levels
When the blood sugar is too high, it starts to damage the kidneys. This, in turn, starts to affect the potassium in the system. For patients living with a metabolic condition, it’s crucial to keep the blood sugar stable if you want normal potassium levels.
6. Be Careful With the Potassium Binders
Some doctors may recommend potassium binders for individuals who need to get rid of the extra potassium in their system. It’s crucial to use these binders the way your doctor recommends.
7. Stick to a Treatment Plan
For individuals with a metabolic condition, cardiovascular diseases, or any serious health disease, following a strict treatment plan can keep this mineral level in check. Your doctor will determine the best possible approach.
The potassium levels importance is bold. Our body needs potassium to function normally. But, when the system doesn’t get enough of this nutrient, it can interfere with heart health. Now that you know how to manage it, you will be on the right track.