Potassium is an electrolyte, a substance that conducts electricity, that is essential for the correct function of all the cells in the human body.
Potassium works alongside other essential minerals, sodium, calcium chloride and magnesium. Potassium is crucial for correct muscle function, especially in our largest muscle, the heart. It also provides for proper functioning of the digestive tract.
A situation where the body has too little potassium is called hyperkalemia. To maintain the right balance of potassium in the blood also requires the correct balance of sodium and magnesium. Too much sodium, common in the modern Western diet, can lead to an imbalance and too little potassium.
Symptoms of a potassium deficiency can include a general weakness and lack of energy, muscle cramps, stomach problems and an irregular heartbeat. If left untreated a potassium deficiency can be fatal.
Good potassium levels can help prevent osteoporosis as potassium is good for bone health. It can also help prevent against high blood pressure, reduce the chances of having a stroke and prevent against irritable bowel syndrome.
As with most nutrients we should get enough magnesium from our diet. However this is much more difficult with modern agricultural, food processing and even home cooking techniques. Surveys consistently demonstrate that we are not taking in enough magnesium in our diet. This can have dire consequences for our health.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include fatigue, loss of appetite and nausea. If left uncorrected a deficiency in magnesium can lead to muscle spasms and contractions. This affects our biggest muscle, the heart, and can lead to abnormal heart rhythm and potentially carciovascular disease. Most of these problems are caused by hypocalcemia and hypokalemia, calcium and potassium deficiency within cells.
This inability for the cells to communicate properly can also lead to chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension and migraines.
Potassium: Recommended Daily Allowance*:
|*All measurements expressed in mg.|