IMAGE Potassium is a mineral and an electrolyte in your body. Electrolytes are compounds that are able to conduct an electrical current.


Potassium's functions include helping to:
  • Regulate fluids and mineral balance in and out of body cells
  • Maintain your normal blood pressure
  • Transmit nerve impulses
  • Make your muscles contract

Recommended Intake

Most people should aim to get close to 5,000 milligrams (mg) of potassium per day.
Age Estimated Minimum Requirement of Potassium
9-13 years 4,500
> 13 years 4,700

Potassium Deficiency

Severe potassium deficiency leads to a low potassium level in the blood, called hypokalemia. But a potassium deficiency is rare in healthy people. However, certain conditions can cause the body to lose significant amounts of potassium. Examples of these conditions include:
  • Excessive diarrhea or laxative use
  • Kidney problems
  • Use of certain blood pressure medications
  • Continuous poor food intake—may occur as a result of alcoholism , anorexia nervosa , bulimia , or very low calorie diets
Signs of a severe potassium deficiency include the following:If hypokalemia persists, it can lead to irregular heartbeat. This can dangerously decrease the heart's ability to pump blood.In addition, people who are on high blood pressure medication should ask their doctor about the need for a potassium supplement.

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