Nutritional Guide

Potassium

Beneficial For :

  • Acid base balance

Why you need it?

Potassium is needed to regulate water balance, levels of acidity, blood pressure, and neuromuscular function. It is also required for carbohydrate and protein metabolism.

Acid base balance: Both potassium and sodium are intimately involved with acid base balance and if there is an imbalance, the heart may beat irregularly.

Electrical activity for nerve cells and muscle cell function including the heart: Both a deficiency and an excess of potassium can cause electrical disturbances in the heart which can lead to arrhythmias and other problems. Potassium deficiency in muscles can cause cramping and spasms in the muscles. In addition, because potassium is essential for the storage of glycogen in muscles, a deficiency can cause muscles to become fatigued and weak.

Water balance: Sodium is pumped out of cells while potassium is pumped into cells. Without this active pumping of sodium out of cells, swelling of the cells occurs.

Deficiency Symptoms:

Potassium deficiency leads to muscle weakness, fatigue, mental confusion, irritability, heart disturbances, muscle cramps, abdominal bloating and nerve conduction abnormalities.

Good Food Sources:

All vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables; oranges, whole grains, sunflower seeds, mint leaves, oranges, nuts, milk, potatoes, bananas.

Precautions

GRAS - Generally recognised as safe. No adverse reactions, side effects or overdose symptoms expected when taken within the recommended amounts.

The average intake of potassium (K+) is about 1-3 g per day. This intake is only about 25% of what hunter-gatherers took in thousands of years ago. This means that the average ratio of sodium to potassium is 5 to 2. Ideally, this should be reversed to a 5 or even 10 to 1 ratio of potassium to sodium. People should be ingesting a much higher amount of potassium in their diets.

  • Caffeine: Coffee and other caffeine compounds cause an increased excretion of potassium and should be limited to small amounts, especially in people with hypertension.
  • Diarrhoea and/or Vomiting: GI disturbances caused by disease, parasites or food reactions can deplete K+ significantly.
  • Diuretics: Medications, especially anti-hypertensive medications, can deplete large amounts of K+.
  • COPD and Diabetes melitis: Acidosis: Excess loss of glucose will cause solute loss, especially in the form of K+. The body, in an attempt to buffer the hyperacidity, will lose K+.
  • Glucocorticoids: Many medications, including adrenal steroid hormones, can disturb potassium levels in the body.
  • The best way to get extra potassium is to eat several pieces of fruit per day. The amount allowed in supplements is very low, considering that one banana can contain 500 mg. It's not wise to take multiple potassium pills in an attempt to get a higher amount, as they can irritate the stomach—a problem not encountered with the potassium in fruit.

The information provided on this site is for educational purposes only. Neither the information provided nor products supplied or offered should be construed to be in any way substitutes for medical attention or prescribed medication. Consult with your healthcare professional before taking any supplements or herbal remedies if you are suffering from an undiagnosed illness or if you are on prescribed medication.