Potassium is a mineral but also known as an electrolyte, which exists as a charged ion in the body and is crucial for proper cellular function. Potassium works in the body by protecting blood vessels from oxidative damage and keeps vessel walls from thickening. It also helps nerves and muscles communicate in the body, as well as move nutrients into cells and waste products out of the cell. Potassium aids in fluid balance and controls activity of the heart, nervous system, and kidneys. A diet rich in potassium helps offset some of sodium’s harmful effects on blood pressure.
Potassium tends to be under consumed, because most people do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. Symptoms of deficiency include weakness, tiredness, cramping, tingling or numbness, nausea or vomiting, constipation, and fainting because of low blood pressure. Potassium deficiency is also linked to hypertension and osteoporosis.
Excess potassium intake has not been proven to cause negative effects in healthy individuals. However, high doses of potassium from supplements can be toxic. If an individual reaches the point of potassium toxicity, symptoms can be heart irregularities and gastrointestinal distress.
Recommended Daily Intake
The recommended daily intake for both men and women is 4,700 mg.