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Adlen Robinson: Why potassium, magnesium are important in diet
Adlen Robinson

Did you know potassium and magnesium are two of the most important minerals for your overall health? Would it surprise you to learn most of us don’t get nearly enough of these two minerals and that could be detrimental to our health?

Here are some foods to consume to boost your levels of potassium and magnesium.

• Avocados• Acorn squash

• Bananas

• Beet greens

• Bok choy

• Cantaloupe

• Carrots

• Cucumbers

• Eggplant

• Kale

• Zucchini

• Spinach

• Swiss chard

• Romaine lettuce

• Broccoli

• Collard greens

• Wild caught salmon

• Brussels sprouts

• Almonds

• Pumpkin seeds

• Sesame seeds

• Cashews

• Brazil nuts

• Cilantro

• Chives

• Cumin seeds

• Fennel seeds

• Basil

• Cloves

• Plain yogurt

• Cloves  

Let’s first talk about potassium. I was surprised to learn that some statistics say that less than 3 percent of the United States population gets the recommended daily intake. It was even declared to be a public health concern by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in 2015. I was even more surprised to that if you have healthy kidneys the recommended amount is 4,700 milligrams. That seems like a rather large amount to me. 

So just why is potassium so important? Besides supporting your muscles, potassium also helps with our heart health, helps maintain normal blood pressure and blood sugar levels. In addition, potassium is an electrolyte and helps balance our body’s chemical and electrical processes. Potassium is also key when it comes to having healthier bones and muscles. 

Some signs you have low potassium levels include irritability, muscle weakness, constipation, abnormal heartbeat, muscle cramping and fatigue.

Our bodies cannot produce potassium, so it is important we get adequate amounts from foods and/or supplements. Before we get the main food sources, let’s talk about another important mineral our body’s need — magnesium. 

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in our bodies and is also incredibly important for our heart health. A lack of magnesium in our body hurts our mitochondrial function — remember when it comes to our mitochondria, think energy. Like potassium, magnesium helps normalize our blood pressure. Magnesium also supports healthy brain function. 

Health experts say most of us are deficient in magnesium and that we need 600 to 900 milligrams per day. Of course as with taking any supplements, you should consult your doctor since every person is different and whatever medications you take could affect how much of a supplement you should take. 

The good news is you can get lots of potassium and magnesium from certain foods. 

Check out my food column in Friday’s FCN for some delicious and simple recipes to help you incorporate more potassium and magnesium into your diet! 


South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at adlen@adlenshomematters.com.