Potassium

Potassium (K) is an essential dietary mineral and electrolyte.

Potassium is necessary for the function of all living cells, and is thus present in all plant and animal tissues. It is found in especially high concentrations in plant cells, and is most highly concentrated in fruits.

Normal body function depends on tight regulation of potassium concentrations both inside and outside of cells (1).

Health Functions

Potassium (K+) is the principal positively charged ion (cation) in the fluid inside of cells (30 times higher than outside), while sodium (Na+) is the principal cation in the fluid outside of cells (10 times higher than inside).

Disease Risk Reduction

A considerable beneficial link between potassium consumption and bone mineral density (BMD) in premeno-pausal, menopausal, and postmenopausal women, as well as in elderly males has been noted in four cross-sectional studies (9, 10, 11).

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Things to know about Potassium

  • Other Applications

    A number of studies indicate that groups with relatively high dietary potassium intakes have lower blood pressures than comparable groups with relatively low potassium intakes (21).

  • Intake Recommendations

    The recommended daily intakes for potassium in Europe are in the order of 3.1–3.5 grams (g) per day for adults (24).

  • Supply Situation

    The average dietary intake of potassium according to European food consumption studies is in the range of 3,000 to 4,000 mg/day (26).

  • Deficiency

    An abnormally low blood plasma potassium concentration (‘hypokalemia’) is most commonly a result of excessive loss of potassium, e.g., from prolonged vomiting, the use of some diuretics, some forms of kidney disease, or metabolic disturbances.

  • Sources

    The richest sources of potassium are fruits (e.g. banana, dried plums, prune, raisins, and orange) and vegetables (e.g., baked potato with skin, cooked spinach and artichoke) (25).

  • Safety

    Abnormally elevated blood serum potassium concentrations (‘hyperkalemia’) occur when potassium intake exceeds the capacity of the kidneys to eliminate it.

  • References

    Consult the full list of scientific references.