What Is Potassium Good For In The Human Body – A potassium-rich diet is linked to many powerful health benefits. It may help reduce blood pressure and water retention, protect against stroke and help prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones.
This mineral is classified as an electrolyte because it is very reactive in water. When dissolved in water, it produces positively charged ions.
- 1 What Is Potassium Good For In The Human Body
- 1.1 Bananas Purchased Editorial Photo. Image Of Required
- 1.2 High Potassium Foods To Avoid: Eating For Chronic Kidney Disease
- 2 Effect Of Short Term Supplementation Of Potassium Chloride And Potassium Citrate On Blood Pressure In Hypertensives
- 3 Serum Potassium And Mortality In High Risk Patients: Sprint
- 4 Health Benefits Of Spinach
What Is Potassium Good For In The Human Body
About 98% of the potassium in your body is found in your cells. Of this, 80% is found in your muscle cells, while the remaining 20% is found in your bones, liver and red blood cells (
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When in water, an electrolyte dissolves into positive or negative ions that have the ability to conduct electricity. Potassium ions have a positive charge.
Your body uses this electricity to regulate a number of processes, including fluid balance, nerve signaling and muscle contraction (7, 8).
Summary: Potassium is an important mineral that acts as an electrolyte. It helps regulate fluid balance, nerve signals and muscle contractions.
The rest is found outside your cells in areas such as your blood, spinal fluid and between cells. This fluid is called extracellular fluid (ECF).
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Interestingly, the amount of water in the ICF and ECF is affected by their level of electrolytes, especially potassium and sodium.
Potassium is the main electrolyte in the ICF, and it determines the amount of water inside the cells. On the other hand, sodium is the main electrolyte in the ECF, and it determines the amount of water outside the cells.
The amount of electrolytes relative to the volume of fluid is called osmolality. Under normal conditions, the osmolality is the same inside and outside your cells.
However, when osmolality is unequal, water will move from the side with fewer electrolytes into the side with more electrolytes to equalize electrolyte concentrations.
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This can cause cells to shrink as water moves out, or swell and burst as water moves in (10).
Maintaining good fluid balance is important for optimal health. Poor fluid balance can lead to dehydration, which affects the heart and kidneys (11).
Summary: Electrolytes affect fluid balance, especially potassium and sodium. Eating a potassium-rich diet can help you maintain good fluid balance.
These messages are delivered in the form of nerve impulses and help regulate your muscle contractions, heartbeat, reflexes and many other bodily functions (
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Interestingly, sodium ions move into cells and potassium ions move out of cells.
Unfortunately, a drop in blood levels of potassium can affect the body’s ability to generate nerve impulses (
Summary: This mineral plays a vital role in activating nerve impulses throughout your nervous system. Nerve impulses help regulate muscle contractions, heartbeat, reflexes and many other processes.
Both low and high blood levels can affect nerve excitability by changing the voltage of nerve cells (
High Potassium Foods To Avoid: Eating For Chronic Kidney Disease
The mineral is also important for a healthy heart, as movement in and out of cells helps maintain a regular heartbeat.
When blood levels of the mineral are too high, the heart can become dilated and flaccid. This can weaken its contractions and produce an abnormal heartbeat (8).
When the heart doesn’t beat properly, it can’t pump blood efficiently to the brain, organs and muscles.
In some cases, a cardiac arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, can be fatal and lead to sudden death (
Effect Of Short Term Supplementation Of Potassium Chloride And Potassium Citrate On Blood Pressure In Hypertensives
Summary: Potassium levels have a significant effect on muscle contraction. Altered levels can cause muscle weakness, and in the heart, they can cause an irregular heartbeat.
A review of 33 studies found that when people with high blood pressure increased their potassium intake, their systolic blood pressure decreased by 3.49 mmHg, while their diastolic blood pressure decreased by 1.96 mmHg (
In another study involving 1,285 participants aged 25-64, scientists found that people who ate the most potassium had lower blood pressure, compared to people who ate the least.
Those who ate the most had systolic blood pressure that was 6 mmHg lower and diastolic blood pressure that was 4 mmHg lower, on average (
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A stroke occurs when there is a lack of blood flow to the brain. It is the cause of death for more than 130,000 Americans each year (
In a review of 33 studies involving 128,644 participants, scientists found that people who ate the most potassium had a 24% lower risk of stroke than people who ate the least.
In addition, a review of 11 studies with 247,510 participants found that people who ate the most potassium had a 21% lower risk of stroke. They also found that eating a diet rich in this mineral was linked to a reduced risk of heart disease (
Interestingly, studies show that a potassium-rich diet may help prevent osteoporosis by reducing the amount of calcium the body loses through urine (24, 25,
Serum Potassium And Mortality In High Risk Patients: Sprint
In a study in 62 healthy women aged 45-55, scientists found that people who ate the most potassium had the most total bone mass.
In another study with 994 healthy premenopausal women, scientists found that those who ate the most potassium had more bone in their lower bones and hips (
Calcium is a common mineral in kidney stones, and several studies show that potassium citrate reduces calcium levels in urine (29,
In a four-year study in 45,619 men, scientists found that those who consumed the most potassium daily had a 51% lower risk of kidney stones (3).
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Similarly, in a 12-year study in 91,731 women, scientists found that those who ate the most potassium daily had a 35% lower risk of kidney stones.
Studies suggest that high potassium intake can help reduce water retention by increasing urine production and reducing sodium levels (
Summary: A diet rich in potassium can reduce blood pressure and water retention, protect against strokes and help prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones.
Most health authorities agree that getting 3,500-4,700 mg of potassium per day is optimal (
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Here’s how much potassium you get from eating a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of foods rich in this mineral (37).
In many countries, food authorities limit potassium in over-the-counter supplements to 99 mg, which is much less than the amount you get from just one serving of the potassium-rich whole foods above (38).
This 99-mg level is likely because many studies have found that high doses of potassium from supplements can damage the gut and even cause death from heart arrhythmia (38,
However, people who suffer from a lack of potassium can get a prescription from their doctor for a higher medicine.
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Summary: Potassium is found in a variety of fruits, vegetables and fish such as salmon. Most health authorities recommend getting 3,500-4,700 mg of potassium per day.
Instead, deficiencies occur mostly when the body suddenly loses too much potassium. This may happen with persistent vomiting, persistent diarrhea or in other situations where you have lost a lot of water (
It is also uncommon to get too much potassium. Although it can happen if you take too many potassium supplements, there is no strong evidence that healthy adults get too much potassium from food (
Excess blood potassium usually occurs when the body is unable to remove the mineral through urine. Therefore, it mostly affects people with poor kidney function or chronic kidney disease (
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In addition, certain populations may need to limit their potassium intake, including those with chronic kidney disease, those taking blood pressure medications and the elderly, as kidney function usually declines with age (
However, there is some evidence that taking too many potassium supplements can be dangerous. Their small size makes them easy to overdo (
This is especially true for the elderly, as high blood pressure, strokes, kidney stones and osteoporosis are more common among the elderly.
Summary: Potassium deficiencies or excesses rarely occur through the diet. Despite this, it is important for your overall health to maintain adequate potassium.
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In addition, a high-potassium diet can help reduce blood pressure and water retention, protect against stroke and prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones.
Unfortunately, very few people get enough potassium. To get more in your diet, eat more potassium-rich foods, such as beet greens, spinach, kale and salmon.
Our experts continuously monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available. Are you tired of hearing about all anything you should eat less? If so, you’ll be happy to read about something you can not only eat more of, but protect your heart, bones and muscles: potassium!
Heart. Potassium is a mineral that helps to relax blood vessels, reduce the risk of stroke and lower blood pressure. It appears to counteract some of the damaging effects of a high sodium (or salt) diet, making blood vessels narrower as well as helping the body to expel sodium.
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Bones. There is a good correlation between bone health and a diet high in potassium. Potassium-rich foods produce alkali in the body to maintain acid-base balance. To see how bones are involved, consider a diet high in whole grains and protein with little fruit and vegetables. This diet makes the body acidic, sending a signal to bones to neutralize that acid by breaking down bone to release alkali (base). Adding potassium-rich fruits and vegetables to your diet makes the body more alkaline, allowing your bones to
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