What does potassium do? why do we need it?

Potassium does many crucial functions in the body. Like sodium, it is needed in small amounts, and many foods, such as bananas and oranges, contain potassium in high amount. This essential mineral is mainly found inside the cells of our body.

Do you know that eating a diet with low potassium and high sodium is associated with increased cardiovascular risk?

What does potassium do for our heart?

We need potassium to maintain normal blood pressure. There should be a balance between sodium and potassium in the body to regulate our blood pressure. Too much sodium and too little potassium results in hypertension.

In addition, potassium is needed for the contraction of the heart. Potassium level in the blood should be kept nearly constant or within a narrow rage for the proper pumping action of the heart. Out heart may stop beating if we have high or low levels of potassium in the blood.

The normal blood level of potassium is 3.5 to 5 mmol/l. A level of less than 3.5 is called hypokalemia, and more than 5 is called hyperkalemia. To achieve the normal blood level, we need to take about 2000 mg of potassium per day. An average size banana will provide abut 25% of daily requirement.

Does potassium do any other functions in our body?
Yes, it does the following jobs.
  • We need potassium for the contraction of muscles. Low levels of potassium is associated with muscle twitching, cramps and muscle weakness.
  • Consumption of diet with high amount of potassium is associated with reduced incidents of stroke.
  • It is important for the balance of water and electrolytes in the body.
  • It participates in signal transmission through the nerves.
  • It is the main positively charged ion inside the cells.
In summary, potassium does many essential functions in the body. We should eat potassium rich foods, such as banana, to prevent high blood pressure and stroke. Please note; do not take potassium supplements without consulting a doctor, because these supplements are not normally needed and they have many serious side effects.

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