Regular intake of potassium (through food and supplements) reduces the risk of all-cause mortality by 20%. It also reduces the risk of stroke, lowers blood pressure, protects against loss of muscle mass, preserves bone mineral density, and reduces the formation of kidney stones.
The main functions of potassium in the body include regulating fluid balance and controlling the electrical activity of the heart and other muscles. This MNT Knowledge Center article provides an in-depth look at the recommended intake of potassium, its possible health benefits, reliable sources of potassium, the effects of consuming too much or too little potassium, and any potential health risks of consuming potassium.
- adults should consume 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium per day (through food and supplements)
- potassium supports blood pressure, cardiovascular health, bone strength, and muscle strength
- beets, white beans, soybeans, and lemons are foods with the highest potassium content.
- potassium deficiency can lead to fatigue, weakness, and constipation. It can escalate to paralysis, respiratory failure, and painful bowel obstructions.
- hyperkalemia means that there is too much potassium in the blood and this can also affect health.
POTASSIUM IN THE FORM OF POTASSIUM SALT, THROUGH FOOD OR IN THE FORM OF A SUPPLEMENT (SUPPLEMENT) – DOSES:
The recommendation for adequate potassium intake is 4,700 milligrams (mg) per day for adults. Most adults do not meet this recommendation. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) also reports that less than two percent of people in the US, for example, meet the daily requirement of 4,700 mg of potassium.
On average, women consume (ripe potassium salt or foods) less potassium than men. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends an intake of 3,510 mg per day and agrees that the majority of the global population does not meet this recommendation. Potassium supplements are available as a solution. However, it is best to get any vitamin or mineral through food. It is not individual vitamins or minerals that make certain foods important to a healthy life, but the combined efforts of several nutrients.
BLOOD PRESSURE AND CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
Low potassium intake has been repeatedly linked to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Keeping sodium intake low is essential for lowering blood pressure, but ensuring good potassium intake can be just as important. Increasing potassium intake along with decreasing sodium is critical to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. In one study, those who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium per day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from coronary heart disease compared to those who consumed about 1,000 mg per day.
MAINTAINING BONES AND MUSCLES
Foods rich in potassium maintain an alkaline environment in the body, unlike acidosis. Metabolic acidosis is triggered by a diet full of acidifying foods such as meat, dairy, and processed grains. Acidosis is a common result of the typically acidic Western diet. Acidosis can cause nitrogen excretion, loss of bone mineral density, and muscle wasting. A high-potassium diet can help preserve muscle mass in the elderly, as well as during conditions that tend to lead to muscle loss, such as diabetic ketosis. However, getting enough potassium can help prevent this. One study found that participants consuming 5,266 milligrams of potassium per day maintained an average of 3.6 more pounds of lean tissue mass than those with potassium intakes 50 percent lower. Some studies also show an increase in bone density with high potassium intake.
NATURAL SOURCES OF POTASSIUM (FOODS)
List of natural products especially rich in potassium :
- boiled or drained beets, without salt
- Baked sweet potato with the skin on in the oven
- canned white beans or salad beans
- bananas (well ripe)
- cherry tomatoes
A lack of potassium can cause several symptoms and health problems. This condition is also known as hypokalemia. A normal potassium level is defined as between 3.5 and 5.0 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).
Hypokalemia is diagnosed when potassium levels fall below 3.5 mmol/L. Mild potassium deficiency usually has no symptoms. A potassium level lower than 2.5 mmol/L is considered extremely deficient and symptoms will become more severe as levels decrease. Symptoms of low potassium levels include:
- malaise and fatigue
- weakness and muscle aches all over the body
Extremely low potassium levels can cause:
- severe muscle weakness
- paralysis with respiratory failure
- painful blockages in the intestines
- tingling, numbness
- itching sensations that are felt in the hands, feet
- legs or arms with periodic muscle spasms
Potassium can also cause health problems when a person consumes more than the recommended 4,700 mg of conscious and adequate intake. People with good kidney function can effectively rid the body of excess potassium in the urine. This process usually has no adverse side effects. There are a small number of reports of potassium toxicity associated with extremely high intakes of potassium supplements.
No food-related potassium toxicity has been reported. hyperkalemia Consuming too much potassium can be harmful to people whose kidneys are not fully functional. Excessive consumption of potassium can lead to hyperkalemia, in which the kidneys cannot excrete enough potassium from the body. This can be dangerous if the condition quickly escalates.
Potassium levels between 5.1 and 6.0 mmol/L are considered high and warrant monitoring and management. Levels higher than 6.0 mmol/L are dangerous. Hyperkalemia will mostly be asymptomatic or have very few symptoms. However, when symptoms are present, they are similar to those that occur with hypokalemia. Severe or sudden hyperkalemia can cause palpitations, shortness of breath, and chest pain. At this stage, hyperkalemia can become a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
POTASSIUM AND SPORTS – MORE DATA
It has been proven that potassium most effectively stimulates nitrogen retention, which leads to an increase in muscle mass. It also supports the exchange of glycogen, which in turn provides its other useful function – to stimulate muscle hypertrophy. (Leibovitz, B. Nutrition and Performance; Muscular Development. Circa 1996, p. 45.). Potassium is also the main cation (an ion with a positive charge) and is found in the water of the cell – its cytosol. Its main biochemical role consists of its action in the enzyme sodium/potassium – ATP-synthetase (Na/K-ATPase). This vital enzyme has two functions of immense importance:
1. To transport potassium into the cell
2. To transport sodium out of the cell. This dual function of the activated enzyme is essential for establishing and maintaining the potassium/sodium balance. It provides the necessary ion gradient to maintain good biological conditions.
THE RESULTING ELECTRICAL GRADIENT OF POTASSIUM
The difference in ions inside and outside the cell establishes the vitally important electrical gradient across the cell membrane, which means that there is a difference in charges inside and outside the cell. The significance of this fact lies in the fact that both the transmission of nerve impulses and the subsequent contraction of the muscle directly depend on the electrical gradient caused by the action of Na/K ATPase. So we see that the presence of potassium is essential for the functioning of nerves and muscles. . (Leibovitz, B. Nutrition and Performance: Muscular Development. Circa 1996, p. 45.).
POTASSIUM AND SPORTS PERFORMANCE – THE SUBTLETIES
Scientific studies prove that potassium deficiency negatively affects submaximal and maximal exercise performance in sports. As a direct result of impaired nerve stimulation to the muscle, low potassium levels block muscle contractions. In addition, they do not allow the proper utilization of carbohydrates. (Williams, M. Nutritional Aspects of Human Physical and Athletic Performance; Thomas, Charles C. Springfield, Illinois.). Also, when potassium stores are low, available nitrogen levels are reduced. This phenomenon, involving nitrogen utilization, significantly reduces muscle mass. (Tannen, R. The Effect of Uncomplicated Potassium Depletion on Urine Acidification; Journal of Clinical Investigations).
POTASSIUM AND CELL HYDRATION – MORE SCIENCE
The anabolic effect of potassium is related to the hydration of the cell. Since the muscle is mainly composed of water, the hydration of the muscle cells is of particular importance – a well-charged cell sends an anabolic signal. Conversely, a dehydrated cell causes catabolic reactions. Furthermore, hydration of the cell is related to the release of insulin from carbohydrates and proteins. Potassium plays an important role in this process, as it is necessary for the accumulation of glycogen in the muscle. The importance of glycogen is that it attracts a large amount of water. And the greater the amount of water, the stronger the anabolic signal. Potassium is also needed in the production of the necessary amounts of growth hormone and somatomedins, so important for growth and repair. It is interesting to note that without a sufficiently high level of potassium, both growth factors become dangerously ineffective, even when a large number of calories are consumed. (Laura Creavalle and Chris Aceto; Muscular Development: Circa 1995. CPT. 38.)
POTASSIUM AND THE HEART – INSTEAD OF A HEALTH SUMMARY
Lack of potassium causes acute cardiac disturbances, which directly lead to cardiac arrest activity. (Stills, M. and Young, V., Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease; Seventh edition, Lea and Febiger; Philadelphia, 1988.). It also leads to an increase in blood pressure. (Krishna, G. et.al. Increased Blood Pressure During Potassium Depletion In Neurotensive Men; The New England Journal of Medicine 320: 1177-1182, 1989.). It can also lead to hypertension and an greater risk of stroke. (Khaw, K. and Barrett, Connor E.; Dietary Potassium and Stroke-associated Mortality, New England Journal of Medicine; 316: 235-240, 1987.). Adequate potassium levels have a significant impact on the heart’s ability to function properly. Scientific research provides accurate evidence of the relationship between the required level of potassium and the best performance in sports.
THE ANTI-CATABOLIC INFLUENCE OF POTASSIUM – FINE-TUNING
Potassium also has an anti-catabolic effect. It performs two anti-catabolic functions:
- neutralizes ammonia. Ammonia is produced when protein is broken down during exercise. Excessive ammonia can lead to fatigue and exhaustion and reduce the body’s ability to resynthesize ATP. This leads to a pronounced catabolic state. Potassium helps reduce ammonia levels in the blood. Potassium is also necessary for the metabolism of protein and carbohydrates. The presence of optimal levels of
- potassium – stimulates glycogen synthesis. Low levels of glycogen in the liver and muscles cause the catabolic hormones glucagon and cortisol to be released. Glucagon and cortisol stimulate the use of amino acids in the muscles. Stimulation of their production should be avoided, as it leads to a certain strong catabolic state. In a cyclic negative profile, the catabolic state of the body causes a further decrease in the necessary potassium stores used for energy production.
Potassium is a vital mineral for the human body. It is necessary for the proper functioning of cells, tissues and organs.
Potassium is also involved in cardiovascular health, bone health, and blood pressure regulation.
The recommended daily intake of potassium is 4,700 mg.
Potassium can be found in many foods, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, and nuts.