Potassium is a vital mineral that’s wanted by all tissues within the physique. It’s typically known as an electrolyte as a result of it carries a small electrical cost that prompts numerous cell and nerve capabilities. Potassium is discovered naturally in lots of meals and as a complement. Its essential function within the physique is to assist preserve regular ranges of fluid inside our cells. Sodium, its counterpart, maintains regular fluid ranges exterior of cells. Potassium additionally helps muscular tissues to contract and helps regular blood stress.

Advisable Quantities

The U.S. Dietary Reference Intakes state that there’s not sufficient proof to determine a Advisable Dietary Allowance (RDA) for potassium. Nevertheless, the Nationwide Academy of Drugs has established an Enough Consumption (AI) for potassium. [1]

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  • For ladies 14-18 years of age, the AI is 2,300 mg every day; for girls 19+, 2,600 mg. For pregnant and lactating ladies, the AI ranges from 2,500-2,900 relying on age.
  • For males 14-18 years of age, the AI is 3,000 mg; for males 19+, 3,400 mg.

It’s estimated that the typical every day consumption of potassium in adults is about 2,320 mg for girls and three,016 mg for males. [2]

Potassium and Well being

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The capabilities of sodium and potassium within the physique are carefully associated and infrequently studied collectively.

Meals Sources

Potassium is broadly out there in lots of meals, particularly fruit and veggies. Leafy greens, beans, nuts, dairy meals, and starchy greens like winter squash are wealthy sources.

  • Dried fruits (raisins, apricots)
  • Beans, lentils
  • Potatoes
  • Winter squash (acorn, butternut)
  • Spinach, broccoli
  • Beet greens
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Oranges, orange juice
  • Coconut water
  • Tomatoes
  • Dairy and plant milks (soy, almond)
  • Yogurt
  • Cashews, almonds
  • Rooster
  • Salmon

Indicators of Deficiency and Toxicity


The kidneys work to take care of regular blood ranges of potassium by flushing out extra quantities via urine. Potassium may also be misplaced via stool and sweat. At the very least 400-800 mg every day from meals is required due to regular every day losses. Any circumstances that improve fluid losses past regular reminiscent of vomiting, diarrhea, and sure medicines like diuretics can result in a deficiency, known as hypokalemia. Hypokalemia is commonest in hospitalized sufferers who’re taking medicines that trigger the physique to excrete an excessive amount of potassium. It’s also seen in folks with inflammatory bowel ailments (Crohn’s illness, ulcerative colitis) which will trigger diarrhea and malabsorption of vitamins.

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It’s uncommon for a potassium deficiency to be attributable to too low a meals consumption alone as a result of it’s present in so many meals; nonetheless an insufficient consumption mixed with heavy sweating, diuretic use, laxative abuse, or extreme nausea and vomiting can shortly result in hypokalemia. Another excuse is a deficiency of magnesium, because the kidneys want magnesium to assist reabsorb potassium and preserve regular ranges in cells.

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps or weak point
  • Constipation
  • Muscle paralysis and irregular coronary heart charge (with extreme hypokalemia)


An excessive amount of potassium within the blood known as hyperkalemia. In wholesome folks the kidneys will effectively take away additional potassium, primarily via the urine. Nevertheless, sure conditions can result in hyperkalemia: superior kidney illness, taking medicines that maintain onto potassium within the physique (together with NSAIDs), or individuals who have compromised kidneys who eat a high-potassium weight loss plan (greater than 4,700 mg every day) or use potassium-based salt substitutes. Signs of hyperkalemia:

  • Weak point, fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest ache
  • Coronary heart palpitations, irregular coronary heart charge

Did You Know?

  • The chemical image for potassium is “Okay,” to not be confused with vitamin Okay.
  • Salt substitutes are typically created from potassium chloride, which replaces some or all the sodium chloride in desk salt. Though these on salt-restricted diets could profit from its a lot decrease sodium content material, potassium salt has a bitter aftertaste when heated so it isn’t beneficial for cooking. Verify along with your physician earlier than making an attempt a potassium salt, as a result of additional potassium might be harmful for individuals who have hassle eliminating extra quantities or who’re taking medicines that may improve potassium ranges within the bloodstream.

Phrases of Use

The contents of this web site are for instructional functions and aren’t supposed to supply private medical recommendation. You need to search the recommendation of your doctor or different certified well being supplier with any questions you might have relating to a medical situation. By no means disregard skilled medical recommendation or delay in looking for it due to one thing you could have learn on this web site. The Vitamin Supply doesn’t advocate or endorse any merchandise.

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