Americans in general have a difficult time achieving the proper nutritional balance in their diets, and this is equally true for aging parents. However, it is especially important for aging parents to achieve this balance; as their bodies age, they are more susceptible to problems that arise from inadequate nutritional choices. One specific nutritional need that is frequently not met is the level of potassium in the diet.
What Does it Do?
Potassium is a mineral, and it has several benefits. One of the most noteworthy for aging parents is its role in helping to regulate sodium. A diet higher in potassium helps to clear more sodium out of the body, and, for people who consume too much sodium, this is a very desirable effect.
Studies also indicate that potassium can help to keep blood vessels relaxed, which improves general blood flow and can help lower blood pressure. So clearly this is a mineral that aging parents need.
However, it’s important that seniors receive a proper amount of potassium. Going overboard can also have serious consequences. For example, potassium also has an effect on the fluids in the body. Too much potassium can have an impact on that and on the kidneys – especially older kidneys.
Dietary Sources of Potassium
Checking with a doctor is an important first step in determining whether dietary changes are needed to increase a person’s intake of potassium. Assuming that the doctor indicates a need for more potassium, below are some of the foods that tend to be good sources of this mineral. Many fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and fish fall into this category, including:
- Spinach, kale, and other greens
- Oranges and grapefruits (and orange juice and grapefruit juice)
- Milk and yogurt
- Lima beans
- Prunes and prune juice
Many potassium-rich foods also offer other health benefits. In general, a good, healthy diet will provide aging parents with potassium along with many other vital minerals and nutrients.