The body’s cells and organs need the right amount of potassium to function normally. Apart for it being a mineral, it is also considered an electrolyte together with magnesium, calcium and sodium chloride which are vital in maintaining the electrical conductivity in the body. In line to this, potassium and its adjunct electrolytes play a key role in the contraction and relaxation of the heart, skeletal and smooth muscles. It functions to enable the normal beating of the heart and digestive and muscular functions.
Excessive sodium in the body also requires an increased amount of potassium to achieve a balance. On the contrary, a potassium deficiency is brought about by conditions of excessive vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating, malabsorption, malnutrition and medications like loop diuretics. Muscle weakness, confusion, fatigue, chronic diarrhea, diuretic use, irritability, heart problems and regular intense exercise are conditions that indicate a need for more potassium.
Normal levels of potassium in the body promote growth and maintenance of bodily functions. It is needed for preserving water balance, muscle growth, nervous system function and growth and acid-base balance for a normal body pH. It can even be beneficial in lowering the risks for high blood pressure. Aside from its essential role in muscle contraction and nerve transmission, potassium is also involved in carbohydrates storage which is used by the muscles as its fuel. When there is increased urinary calcium excretion due to increased sodium in the body, potassium counteracts this condition and prevents the bones from rapidly deteriorating. It can also have certain effects on stroke, anxiety and stress levels, blood pressure regulation, metabolism and kidney disorders aside from its general health benefits.
Aside from potassium rich food like dairy products, legumes, meats, bananas, salmon, vegetables, etc; sodium and magnesium levels in the blood help keep the proper potassium balance in the body. Neglecting the signs and symptoms of hyperkalemia (excessive potassium) or hypokalemia (potassium deficit) will lead to life threatening effects. Therefore, it is very crucial to get the right amount of potassium daily to keep your body in good condition.