Potassium is one of the most vital electrolytes – the substance that helps maintain fluid balance in the body and keeps muscles relaxed. It is essential for the functioning of the heart and also helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood and body fluids. If low levels of potassium are present in the body, the muscles become weaker, fatigue sets in and the heart becomes less efficient.
Potassium is a mineral which is an essential element in the body. It is a natural chemical that is found in the cells, muscles, nerves, and the blood. Potassium is essential for the body’s normal function such as cellular respiration, and normal muscle movement. Potassium helps to regulate the body’s water balance, control of blood pressure, electrical activity of the muscles, nerve impulse transmission, and maintenance of normal fluid balance.
At a Glance
Potassium is an essential mineral that the body can only obtain through food. Potassium is important for cell membrane behavior including nerve impulse transmission, cardiac function, and muscle contraction. You can find potassium in bananas, avocados, swiss chard, artichokes, squash, and many more types of fruits and vegetables.
Potassium is an essential mineral for humans. Since your body doesn’t produce it, you must obtain it through food (or supplements).
Potassium has many functions in the body including:
- Maintaining an electrochemical gradient across cell membranes, which is necessary for nerve impulse transmission, cardiac function, and muscle contraction
- Assisting in enzyme activity.
Potassium can be found in several foods including:
Common symptoms and resulting conditions of potassium deficiency include:
- Cardiac arrhythmia, possibly leading to cardiac arrest
- Muscle cramps.
However, your individual response could be different. If you suspect a health problem or deficiency in certain nutrients, please see your primary health care provider (doctor, naturopath, etc). They can help unravel the complexity of your physiology.
Note: Potassium deficiencies are typically not a result of insufficient dietary intake. Instead, they’re usually caused by protein wasting conditions. Some diuretics can also cause excessive loss of potassium in the urine.
Common symptoms of potassium excess/toxicity include:
- Tingling of extremities
- Muscle weakness
However, your individual response could be different. If you suspect a health problem or an excess of certain nutrients, please see your primary health care provider (doctor, naturopath, etc). They can help unravel the complexity of your physiology.
Note: Toxicity occurs when the intake of potassium exceeds the capacity of the kidney for elimination. This is found with kidney failure and potassium sparing diuretics. Oral doses greater than 18 grams of potassium can also lead to toxicity.
For recipes rich in potassium, check out any of the Encyclopedia of Food entries for food items listed above.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What food is highest in potassium?
Potatoes are the highest in potassium.
How can I raise my potassium level quickly?
You can increase your potassium level by eating foods high in potassium, such as bananas, avocados, and spinach.
What can you make with potassium?
Potassium is a chemical element with symbol K and atomic number 19. It is found in seawater and is essential for life.
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