I’ve talked a lot about potassium in the past. It’s a powerful nutrient for lowering your high blood pressure. With that, it can help lower your risk for heart attack and stroke. However, not everyone has high blood pressure. But they still may need to take potassium.
Researchers recently found something very interesting about postmenopausal women. These researchers looked at 90,137 postmenopausal women, ranging in ages from 50 to 79, over an average of 11 years. That’s a big study.
During the study, they evaluated the women’s potassium intake and recorded instances of stroke or death. None of the women had experienced a stroke prior to the study, and they consumed an average of 2,611 mg per day of potassium from food, rather than from supplements.
They found that those who did not have high blood pressure but ate high-potassium foods were less likely to have strokes and die than women on a low-potassium diet.
They also found that the mineral all by itself has benefits for those with high blood pressure. But a bigger impact was on their risk of hypertension-related death from a heart attack. It significantly reduced their risk.
How about stroke? Did it help there? Absolutely! It reduced their risk of having a stroke – and the more they got in their diet, the better. Those who had the highest levels of potassium intake were 12% less likely to have any type of stroke. They also were 16% less likely to experience an ischemic stroke and 10% less likely to die than those with the lowest levels.
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What’s interesting is that these benefits increased when women with high potassium intake did not have hypertension. In fact, they were 21% less likely to have a stroke in general and 27% less likely to have an ischemic stroke than the women with low potassium levels. This means it’s far better to take potassium before you develop high blood pressure.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, women need to eat at least 4,700 mg of potassium every day. The study’s senior author Dr. Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller said: “Only 2.8% of women in our study met or exceeded this level. The World Health Organization’s daily potassium recommendation for women is lower, at 3,510 mg or more. Still, only 16.6% of women we studied met or exceeded that.”
That means most of us, including men, are not getting enough potassium. It’s best to get the vast majority of your potassium from your diet. You can get too much potassium, which can negatively affect your heart. This means eating bananas, potatoes that aren’t fried, and other fruits and veggies.
If you’re deficient in potassium, talk to your doctor about taking high-dose supplements. Most medical advice suggests not taking more than 99 mg per day. But if you’re deficient, you can safely take 600-1,200 mg to boost your levels. But you may not need to take this amount indefinitely. Once you get your levels up, talk to your doctor about reducing your daily dose.
If you already have high blood pressure, and potassium doesn’t bring it down, I’ll show you another great way to lower your blood pressure on Tuesday. Don’t miss it.
Your insider for better health,
Arjun Seth, Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, Victor Kamensky, Brian Silver, Kamakshi Lakshminarayan, Ross Prentice, Linda Van Horn, and Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller. Potassium Intake and Risk of Stroke in Women With Hypertension and Nonhypertension in the Women’s Health Initiative. Stroke, September 2014 DOI: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.006046.