Potassium is an essential mineral vital for the proper functioning of all living cells and to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Approximately 98% of the body’s total potassium is found within a cell.
Potassium is required for the function of several organs, including the heart, kidneys, brain and muscular tissues.
The major functions of potassium are the maintenance of the cell’s membrane potential and regulation of the fluid within the cell.
Potassium is important for muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, heart functioning, prevention of excessive fluid retention, maintenance of proper pH within the body, normal growth and muscle building.
Western diet with more processed foods and low vegetable intake is low in potassium and high in sodium. Potassium deficiency can result in muscle cramps and spasms as well as many other listed below symptoms. For this reason every day eat a big bowl of raw vegetable salad. In your diet, include also potatoes in skin, banana, and 1 cup of raw coconut water per day. In addition, you may take 100-300 mg of Potassium Citrate with one of your meals.
Symptoms of potassium deficiency may include muscle weakness & cramps, tiredness, irritability, abdominal pain, abdominal cramping, bloating, nausea, constipation, depression, confusion, weight gain, blood pressure problems, heart palpitations, cellulite, arthritis, etc.
- Potassium deficiency can also develop as a result of endurance exercise without proper hydration, prolonged vomiting or diarrhoea, kidney dysfunction associated with treatment with diuretics, amphotericin B, cisplatin, theophylline, as well as in Cushing’s syndrome, Conn’s syndrome, and Fanconi syndrome.
- Levels of Potassium drop by eating too much salt, and avoiding foods which are rich in potassium such as raw vegetable salads, baked in skin potatoes, watermelon or bananas.
- Caffeine depletes your supplies of thiamine and other B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc.
- Conventional treatment for peripheral oedema includes diuretics (such as Lasix) which are prescribed to treat peripheral oedema or heart failure. Unfortunately, their chronic use causes side effects such as potassium deficiency.
- Anti-hypertensives drugs lead to Potassium deficiency. Physicians often prescribe potassium to offset the well-known potassium depletion associated with these drugs. One study found hypokalaemia (low potassium) in people treated with thiazide diuretics and hyponatremia (low sodium). Thiazide diuretics also decrease magnesium in approximately 20 percent of patients (4) and can significantly decrease serum zinc. Loop diuretics deplete potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc, pyridoxine, thiamine and ascorbic acid. One study showed that thiamine deficiency was found in 98 percent of patients with congestive heart failure who took 80 mg of furosemide daily, and in 57 percent of patients who took just 40 mg daily.
- Because stress leads to imbalance between potassium and sodium which is caused by another stress hormone – adrenalin, you may also be tempted to eat chips and other salty foods which are high in fat too.
- Apple cider vinegar is high in acetic acid which may lead to potassium deficiency over time, if ACV is consumed in large doses.
Unlike Nutritional Yeast (high in B Vitamins), Brewer’s Yeast > is much better source of amino acids (protein) and minerals such as whopping 630 milligrams of Potassium and 63 micrograms of Selenium per 2 tablespoons, whereas nutritional yeast contains none!
Other good natural sources of potassium are raw vegetable salads, baked with skin white and sweet potatoes, and bananas. Other food sources containing potassium include coconut water, dried apricots, prunes, dates, avocados, cantaloupe, citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, squash, legumes (especially beans), mushrooms, and nuts.
In order to have enough potassium you need to consume about 7 cups of raw vegetable salad every day!
Karela fruit (bitter) contains twice the potassium of a banana.
One hundred grams of dry Moringa leaf contains 15 times the potassium of bananas, 12 times the vitamin C of oranges, and 25 times the iron of spinach.
POSSIBLE HEALTH BENEFITS
- Potassium supplementation may help normalise and lower high blood pressure (>, >).
- Potassium may lower high blood pressure in hypertensive patients who consume too much sodium (>, >). However, high potassium intake does not decrease blood pressure when it is normal (>).
- Increasing dietary potassium intake from natural foods reduces the need for antihypertensive medication in patients with essential hypertension.
- 38% of hypertensive patients on the high-potassium diet had well-controlled blood pressure without any need for drug therapy (>).
HEART ATTACK & STROKE
- Diet rich in potassium decreased the risk of coronary heart disease by 20% and stroke by 34% (>, >).
- Increased potassium intake may protect against stroke (>, >).
- An average increase of 1.64 g of potassium per day is associated with a 21% reduced risk of stroke (>).
- A number of animal studies confirmed that increased potassium intake helps protect against cardiovascular disease (>).
- It has been suggested that patients with congestive heart failure should routinely be given potassium supplementation, even if their initial potassium measurement is normal (4.0 mmol/l) (>).
- The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that higher potassium intake was associated with a lower cardiovascular and all-cause risk of dying (>).
- High dietary potassium intake in Japanese men and women is associated with a lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease and total cardiovascular disease (>).
- Potassium is important for insulin secretion from the pancreatic cells (>, >).
- Low potassium intake or blood potassium level is associated with an increased risk for insulin resistance and diabetes (>, >, >, >, >).
- Potassium depletion studies show that low serum potassium decreases glucose tolerance associated with reduced insulin secretion (>).
- Studies show that high potassium intake is associated with a 39% reduced risk of metabolic syndrome in both men and women (>).
- Apart from chromium also potassium is important to cope with sugar cravings. In order to have more potassium you need to consume about 7 cups of raw vegetable salad every day or get natural potassium from Brewer’s Yeast (high in both, chromium and potassium)
WATER BALANCE, WATER RETENTION & SWELLING (OEDEMA)
- Potassium deficiency may cause oedema. Potassium is critical for maintaining normal water balance in the body. Levels of this mineral drop by eating too much salt, and avoiding foods which are rich in potassium such as raw vegetable salads, baked in skin potatoes, watermelon or bananas.
- Potassium helps reduce water retention by lowering sodium levels in the body.
MUSCLE CRAMPS & SPASMS
- Potassium deficiency can result in muscle cramps and spasms. For this reason every day eat big bowl of raw vegetable salad, potatoes in skin, banana, and 1 cup of raw coconut water per day. In addition take 100 mg of Potassium Citrate with one of your meals.
- Muscle weakness, muscle aches and muscle cramps are common side effects of low potassium levels for instance in athletes when they become dehydrated and don’t consume enough potassium-rich foods before and after exercise (>).
- Potassium is helpful for cramps related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) (works even better when combined with magnesium supplementation).
- In order to filter toxic waste from blood kidneys need water, nutrients, and mineral electrolytes like potassium and sodium (not sodium from refined salt but from pink or sea salt).
- Studies in hypertensive rats showed that a high potassium intake prevented kidney damage (>, >).
- Study of 13,917 participants from NHANES, suggested that higher dietary intake of potassium is associated with lower incidence of chronic kidney disease (>).
- Potassium supplementation can reduce kidney inflammation leading to a regression of chronic kidney disease (>).
- Chronic potassium depletion causes kidney functional and structural changes, interstitial nephritis (inflammation of the kidney), or cyst formation in animals and humans (>, >, >, >).
- Concurrent supplementation with potassium and magnesium protects kidneys from cyclosporine-induced kidney damage (>).
- People taking higher doses of potassium were reported to have 50% lower risk of developing kidney stones (>, >).
- Increasing dietary or supplemental potassium intake has been found to help decrease calcium excretion in urine thus reducing the risk of developing kidney stones (>, >).
- Potassium citrate may be effective in reducing the stone size and symptoms of kidney stones (>, >, >).
- One of the main causes of cellulite build-up is fluid retention caused by excess sodium and deficiency of potassium.
- Increased intake of potassium may help improve bone mineral density and prevent osteoporosis (>, >, >, >, >).
- In postmenopausal women, potassium bicarbonate (>) and combined treatment with potassium citrate and calcium citrate helped reduce bone loss (>, >).
LOSS OF MUSCLE MASS
- High intake of foods rich in potassium aids preservation of muscle mass (>).
- In elderly people with potassium deficiency, increased intake had anti-ageing effects (>).
- Potassium-rich foods relieve an acidic environment in the body and protect from loss of bone density and muscle wasting (>).
ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITY & CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
- Dietary potassium may help protect against oxidative cardiovascular damage through its antioxidant effects (>).
- Potassium may help prevent the development of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions by blocking effect on interleukin IL-17A production in T lymphocytes (>).
ADVERSE EFFECTS OF LITHIUM
- Potassium supplementation may help protect against nephrogenic diabetes insipidus caused by Lithium used for the treatment of manic-depressive psychosis and other conditions. Potassium helps prevent kidney damage by reducing the reabsorption of lithium from the kidneys (>).
- Potassium also increases the elimination of excess lithium from the tissues, protecting against its potentially toxic accumulation (>).
- Increased potassium intake may help in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (>) as it leads to a beneficial change in the aggregation of the amyloid-beta peptide, improved memory, and decreased inflammation (>).
- High consumption of potassium might decrease periodontists (gum disease) severity (>).
- An alcohol-free mouth rinse with 1.4% potassium oxalate, significantly reduced tooth sensitivity (>).
RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS PAIN
- High-level potassium supplementation helped decrease pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis (>). Nearly half of those who took 6,000 mg of potassium daily for a month experienced a 30% reduction in pain.
- It is believed that pain and inflammation were decreased because higher potassium intake elevated blood levels of cortisol which has anti-inflammatory properties (>).
- Potassium encouraging the kidneys to excrete sodium thus promoting healthy blood pressure.
- Potassium enhances calcium reabsorption. Calcium is needed to control levels of magnesium, potassium and phosphorus in the blood, and all these minerals work together to balance one another. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to avoid excess of calcium and at the same time consume mineral- and calcium-rich foods on a regular basis as it helps avoid electrolyte imbalance.
- Magnesium is required for potassium uptake in cells. As an electrolyte, magnesium helps regulate calcium, potassium and sodium and is essential for over 300 different biochemical functions in the body.
RECOMMENDED DAILY INTAKE
Because Potassium is easily excreted by the kidneys rather than stored in the body, we need consume potassium every day.
Recommended daily intake of Potassium is set at only 2,000mg (way too low) in UK & EU countries and 4,700mg in US.
Recommended daily intake of potassium according to the Food and Nutrition Center of the Institute of Medicine:
- Infants 0–12 months: 400–700 mg/day
- Children 1–8 years: 3,000–3,800 mg/day
- Teens 9–18 years: 4,500–4,700 mg/day
- Adults (men and women) 19 and older: 4,700 mg/day
- Pregnant or breastfeeding: 5,100 mg/day
Athletes need even more Potassium, but intakes may vary based on muscle mass, intensity of the training, etc.
SAFE UPPER INTAKE
Safe upper intake from supplements for Potassium is set at 3,700mg (too low) in EU countries and no SUL in US. SUL in EU countries seems to be too low when we take into consideration that in America the recommended daily intake is almost 5000 mg/day.
High doses of supplemental potassium should be administered under medical supervision due to potential toxicity (>, >).
The healthy range for serum potassium 3.5 to 5.5 mmol/L, and only a minor departure from this range (by less than 1.0 mmol/L) is associated with a high risk of disease and even dying (>).
Hypokalaemia (Potassium deficiency) is defined as a serum potassium concentration of less than 3.5 mmol/L.
Hyperkalaemia (excess Potassium) is defined as a serum potassium concentration above 5.5 mmol/L. Serum potassium above 6.5 mEq/L, which occurs in kidney failure, adrenal gland insufficiency, and in the tumour lysis syndrome, is associated with a high risk of death.
Licorice is effective in lowering potassium in hemodialysis patients with hyperkalemia >
In individuals whose kidney function is impaired, a potassium intake below 4.7 g/day is recommended, because elevated blood potassium levels increase the risk of irregular heart rhythm that.
In patients with chronic kidney failure, potassium supplementation must be considered carefully as kidneys are the main regulator of potassium balance (>, >).
Patients with ulcers and bleeding must be considered carefully for oral potassium supplementation because some potassium salts (such as chloride) can be irritating to the gut lining.
Potassium containing supplements are available in the form of citrate, gluconate, chloride, acetate, and bicarbonate. The best supplemental Potassium is found in Brewer’s Yeast (powder or tablets) as it is natural and very well absorbed.
SIDE EFFECTS OF SUPPLEMENTS
Potassium chloride supplements may irritate upper digestive tract due to delayed stomach emptying.
Written by Slawomir Gromadzki, MPH
Any information or product suggested on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Consult your primary healthcare physician before using any supplements or making any changes to your regime.