13 Incredible Benefits of Potassium

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

 Likes  Comments

The health benefits of potassium include relief from stroke, high blood pressure, heart and kidney disorders, and anxiety and stress. It helps enhance muscle strength, metabolism, water balance, electrolytic functions, and the nervous system.

It is the third most abundant mineral in the human body and is a powerful element in improving health. It contains the components for maintaining a high level of well-being and an improved lifestyle. You should not underestimate the importance of potassium in your dietary plan.

Apart from acting as an electrolyte, this mineral is required for keeping the heart, brain, kidney, muscle tissue, and other important organ systems of the human body in good condition. Potassium chloride is the main variety of this mineral, and it works in association with sodium to perform a number of critical tasks within the body.

Symptoms of Potassium Deficiency

Deficiency of any nutrient in the body is undesirable and potassium is not an exception. A diet deficient in it may lead to symptoms like fatigue and muscle weakness. Other indications for its deficiency include inactive reflexes, abnormal heartbeat, heart palpitations, anemia, and severe headaches. Potassium-deficient people may also experience high blood pressure, pain in their intestines, swelling in their glands, and diabetes as serious side effects of this deficiency.

Important Sources of Potassium

The most important dietary sources of potassium are citrus fruits, vegetables, and grains. Also, you can get an ample amount of this mineral from salmon, chicken, whole milk, fresh fruit juices, and almonds. Apart from those, nuts, lime beans, potatoes, and poultry are other products to be included in the ‘potassium-rich foods’ list. However, the important sources of this mineral also include avocados, bananas, and coconut water.

Health Benefits of Potassium

It is often considered an essential nutrient that cures blood pressure, reduces anxiety and stress, and improves many more health disorders. Let’s take a look at the common benefits in detail.

Stimulates Neural Activity

It plays an important role in keeping brain function at a normal level. High levels of potassium allow more oxygen to reach the brain, thereby stimulating neural activity and increasing cognitive function. There is a good reason why people call bananas brain food; they contain impressively high levels of this mineral.

It is of great importance in preventing the occurrence of stroke in the human brain. Dr. Elizabeth Barrett-Connor and Kay-Tee Shaw, M. Sc., through their research, found that a high intake of potassium from food sources may protect against stroke-associated death. It is no secret that people at high risk for this tragic condition are often found to be deficient in this essential nutrient. Since it acts as a vasodilator, the blood vessels relax throughout the body when a proper amount of this mineral is consumed. This means that blood flows more freely and is less likely to clot and break off to cause strokes.

Stabilizes Blood Sugar

Studies suggest that lower levels of potassium are associated with a higher risk of diabetes. A study published by a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA, found a link between high levels of insulin/glucose and low levels of potassium in people who were otherwise considered to be healthy. This is also why those suffering from diabetes are encouraged to keep their potassium levels normal, to reduce the chances of unpredictable spikes and plunges in their glucose and insulin levels by stabilizing the blood sugar levels throughout the body. Doctors consider low levels of potassium with high levels of insulin as characteristics of developing diabetes. 

Reduces Muscle Disorders

A sufficient concentration of this mineral is required for the regular contraction and relaxation of muscles. Most of the potassium ions in the human body are located in the muscle cells. It maintains optimal muscle and nerve function and helps keep our reflexes fast because it stimulates the neural connectivity of muscles and the brain.

Prevents Cramps

Muscle cramps are a common result of low levels of potassium in the blood, a condition called hypokalemia (source: Journal of Athletic Training). If you consume a banana every day, you can easily prevent muscle cramps because bananas have rich potassium content.

Enhances Bone Health

The benefits of potassium even extend to improving the health of your bones. There are certain qualities of this mineral that neutralize various acids in the body, which helps in retaining and preserving calcium, making it accessible to use for bone strength and durability. Furthermore, a study at the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center says that eating fruits and vegetables having high levels of this mineral results in higher mineral density in bones, further strengthening and prolonging their life.

Regulates Neural Function

Potassium channels play a key role in maintaining the electrical conductivity of the brain and dramatically affecting the brain function. It is also involved in higher brain function like memory and learning. In addition to this, ailments like epilepsy are related to the dysfunction of potassium channels that can occur through its deficiency. There are potassium currents that play a major role in mammalian neurons. These channels are interconnected with a vast array of neural function and can help moderate and regulate electrical currents throughout the body.

Stabilizes Blood Pressure

Potassium is helpful in reversing the role of sodium in unbalancing normal blood pressure, as researched by Cappuccio Francesco P et al. published in the Journal of Hypertension. Thus, it acts as a vital component that maintains the normality of blood pressure in the human body. This further reduces the risk of heart diseases and hypertension. Regulation of blood pressure is one of the most important functions of this powerful mineral. As mentioned earlier, it has vasodilation properties that work to relieve the tension of blood vessels, which is one of the main causes of high blood pressure.

Strengthens Muscles

One of the useful benefits of potassium is its role in ensuring the proper growth of muscle tissues and the utilization of energy released during metabolism, which adds significantly to muscular strength. The muscles, including those all-important cardiac muscles, are prone to paralysis due to a deficiency of potassium in a person’s diet.

Stimulating cell growth and providing the metabolic energy to do so is a vital function of potassium and muscular health would be compromised without it. Also, without the contraction and relaxation that potassium allows muscles to perform, exercise and additional muscle training would be impossible.

Boosts Metabolism

Potassium assists in the metabolic processing of various nutrients like fats and carbohydrates. Thus, it is of a great value in extracting energy from the nutrients that are consumed. Detailed studies conducted in Denmark have shown that this mineral is also an integral part of the synthesis of protein, which has an impact on tissue regeneration, cell growth, and overall balanced metabolism.

Reduces Anxiety & Stress

Potassium is of great importance for people suffering from undesirable mental states like anxiety and stress. It is considered a powerful stress buster and therefore, ensures an efficient mental performance. Anxiety and stress are very detrimental to other parts of the health and any bonus from things like potassium is considered a good idea if you suffer from chronic stress. This mineral can help regulate various hormones in your body, including stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, excess amounts of which can be detrimental to the body.

Boosts Heart Health

The health benefits of potassium ensure good health for the heart as well as the kidneys. It plays an irreplaceable role in regulating the metabolism and keeping the heart and kidneys running smoothly. Additionally, this mineral assists the kidneys in removing waste through the process of excretion. However, it is strongly advised to consult your doctor to get recommendations about potassium dosage, because it can help stimulate the body to absorb more calcium than necessary, which can actually calcify and cause kidney problems, rather than solve them.

Maintains Water Balance

Another significant role that potassium plays is in the maintenance of an optimal fluid balance in the human body. Different types of cells require a proper water balance for efficient functioning and potassium aids these cells in regulating the balance. Fluid balance keeps all of our organ systems functioning in one way or the other, which is why many people recommend eating bananas after athletic events or after a night of heavy drinking, in order to rehydrate and optimize fluid balance.

Regulates the Level of Fluids

Potassium is also a great electrolyte in the human body. It helps in regulating the level of fluids in the body and thus aids in a number of critical body functions. Furthermore, electrolytes help transmit electrical charges throughout the body from the brain and nervous system, so extra electrolytes keep everything functioning faster.

Improves Nervous System

Potassium helps boost the efficiency of nerve reflexes that transmit the message from one body part to another. This, in turn, helps in muscle contraction to perform various activities every day without getting tired quickly, which is further benefited by potassium and is required to induce muscle contraction and function.

Word of Caution: Excess of this mineral in the body can be harmful; for example, patients with kidney issues who cannot properly process this mineral, may have dangerously high levels. This can lead to heart diseases, muscle paralysis, troubled breathing, tingling in the hands and feet, heart arrhythmia, and nausea. Potassium can be a miraculous addition to certain diets, but always be careful that you don’t overdo, and if you choose to include potassium supplements in your diet, consult your doctor first.

DMCA.com Protection Status
About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

Rate this article
Average rating 3.9 out of 5.0 based on 423 user(s).

Latest Health News:

Two boys and a girl clicked from the back. The boy in the middle has arms around the girl's waist, while the other boy is holding the girl's hand behind his back.

Scientists Use DNA To Study Extra-Marital Sex Patterns

What has long been a matter of gossip and stories is now a matter of scientific study, adultery. A team of Belgian scientists studied long-term genealogical…

READ MORE
Mature male employee lifting a heavy load at work

Heavy Manual Workload Linked To Cardiovascular Risks

At a time when diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and several such metabolic conditions are on the rise, a good dose of physical activity is recommended for…

READ MORE
Young man in a suit listening seeming happy listening to music while carrying a coffee cup

Study Finds What Makes A Song Popular

What makes a song worthy of the charts and so catchy that you can’t get it out of your head. A team of researchers has figured out that some aspects which…

READ MORE