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Potassium sources, health benefits and uses

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 by

Potassium is an essential mineral that is needed for the optimum function of all tissues, cells, and organs in the human body. Aside from that, it is an electrolyte, a substance which conducts electricity in the body, along with sodium, calcium, chloride, and magnesium.

Potassium enters the body via food ingestion, forming insulin, which causes the temporary movement of potassium from intracellular fluid (ICF) to extracellular fluid (ECF). After a few hours, the kidneys get rid of the ingested potassium and homeostasis returns to the body.

In a critically diseased or even dying patient who is suffering from hyperkalemia, which is a disease that is characterized by elevated levels of potassium in the blood serum, the kidneys are finding it hard to remove potassium from the body.

The disease can be treated by administering a high concentration (50 percent) of intravenous glucose, because the stimulation of alpha receptors can speed up the movement of potassium from ICF to ECF. A noradrenaline infusion can increase serum potassium levels while an adrenaline infusion can lower potassium levels.

Potassium serves as the major cation (positive ion) inside animal cells, while sodium is the major cation outside animal cells. The concentration differences of these charged particles results in a difference in electric potential between the outside and inside of cells, known as the cell membrane potential, which allows the cell to generate an action potential – a “spike” of electrical discharge.

This activity is essential for body functions such as neurotransmission, heart function, and smooth skeletal and muscle contraction. Potassium is also needed for regulating water balance, levels of acidity, and blood pressure.

Maintaining proper potassium levels in the body is dependent on the amount of magnesium and sodium in the blood. Following Western diets – which uses a lot of salt – causes an influx of sodium in the body, necessitating the need for above average amounts of potassium in the body.

Another cause of potassium deficiency are conditions that involve diarrhea; excessive sweating; malabsorption syndromes such as Crohn’s disease, which is a chronic inflammation of the intestines; malnutrition; and vomiting.

You can obtain postassium by eating some types of fish such as cod, flounder, and salmon; all meats; dairy products; fruits such as bananas, oranges, avocados, cantaloupes, tomatoes; legumes such as lima beans; potatoes; and vegetables. Potassium can also be found in multivitamins; however, potassium supplements should only be taken by doctors’ prescription.

The proper dosages of potassium are as follows:

  • Infants, birth to six months – 400 milligrams (mg) a day
  • Infants, seven months to 12 months – 700 mg a day
  • Children, one to three years – three grams (g) a day
  • Children, four to eight years – 3.8 g a day
  • Children, nine to 13 years – 4.5 g a day
  • Adults, 19 years and older – 4.7 g a day
  • Pregnant women – 4.7 g a day
  • Breastfeeding women – 5.1 g a day

Side effects of the improper use of potassium supplements include diarrhea, nausea, and stomach irritation; at higher doses, the patient can experience abnormal heart rhythm, muscle weakness,and slowed heart rate.

Medicinal uses for potassium

Ingestion of potassium is a fantastic way to treat hypokalemia, which usually occurs when there is too much loss of potassium in the intestines or urine. This disorder is rarely caused by a lack of potassium in the diet, and is usually the result of some other chronic conditions. Hypokalemia can cause death; it should never be left untreated.

Body systems supported by potassium

Potassium is good for the cardiovascular system. It can be the answer to regulating blood pressure. Studies show that increasing potassium intake lowers the risk of dying from heart ailments, because of potassium’s blood pressure-lowering effects. A higher potassium-sodium ratio can cause one to have a higher risk of heart disease.

Potassium is good for the digestive system. It can be used to treat inflammatory bowel disease or ulcerative colitis.

Potassium is good for the skeletal system. According to studies, there is a positive relation between potassium and bone health, especially among older women, suggesting a role in preventing the onset of osteoporosis and reducing bone turnover.

Potassium is good for the nervous and muscular systems.

Where to learn more


Potassium is good for the cardiovascular, digestive, skeletal, nervous, and muscular systems.

Ingestion of potassium is a fantastic way to treat hypokalemia.

Maintaining proper potassium levels in the body is dependent on the amount of magnesium and sodium in the blood.

Sources include:



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