Everything you need to know about potassium

So, we know that potassium plays a crucial role in our bodies, and is especially important for sending nerve signals, regulating muscle contractions like heartbeat, and controlling the balance of fluids.

Potassium is also associated with many other powerful health benefits – and because the human body can’t produce potassium itself, we need to make sure we’re getting enough from our diet.

But how much potassium exactly do we actually need?

According to the NHS, adults under the age of 64 need 3,500mg of potassium a day – and we should be able to get that from eating a healthy, balanced diet.

However, consuming too much potassium can cause stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhoea. Having high levels of potassium in the blood is called hyperkalemia, and the NHS states that older adults are more at risk of this, because their kidneys may not be as effective at removing potassium from the blood.

For this reason, it’s advised that older adults and people who have issues with their kidneys shouldn’t take potassium supplements unless specifically advised to by their doctor. Although, taking less than 3,500mg of potassium supplements a day is unlikely to cause harm (NHS).

Because potassium is found in so many foods, deficiency is rare. Potassium is generally flushed out of our bodies through urine, sweat, and stools, and a loss of up to 800mg a day is normal. However, if you’ve been experiencing vomiting, diarrhoea, or excess sweating, or you’ve been taking diuretic medications, you’re at greater risk of losing too much potassium and becoming deficient.

Signs of potassium deficiency include fatigue, muscle cramps or weakness, constipation, and – if severe – muscle paralysis and irregular heart rate.

Author: wpadmin

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