Minerals are a large series of natural substances, which have both a solid and an inorganic appearance . Throughout the centuries, they have been relevant to the human body and every day we hear more of them in the presence of food.

For this reason, in the following article we will explain a type of electrolyte mineral, the famous potassium , where you will learn about its functions and its presence in the foods we usually consume, including what happens when it is lacking in the body.

What is potassium?

Potassium is a mineral characterized as an electrolyte, in order to transport electrical charges when they dissolve in body fluids such as blood, being necessary for humans and is available in most foods.

In this sense, the body undeniably needs potassium in order to provide proper functioning for organs such as the kidney, the heart and even motor functions such as muscle contractions or nervous system transmissions.

Note: An important fact is the following: “Potassium (k) is an ingredient in many of the salt substitutes, which people use to replace table salt . ” (1)

What is potassium used for?

This electrolyte mineral is extremely important , since it drives many proper functions of the body and its levels must be kept balanced. That is why we mention below what potassium is used for in the human body:

1. Stabilizes the heart rate

The conduction of electricity by potassium is very essential for cardiac functions, specifically the heart rhythm, since at the end of a cycle of the same the potassium channels are opened where the ions of the mineral manage to flow, this is confirmed with the electrocardiograms .

2. Regulates blood pressure

With a stable heart rate, you get better blood circulation and of course a fluid blood pressure, since potassium has the ability to reduce tension in blood vessels , specifically around their walls and decreases the effects of sodium on blood pressure. sanguine.

Important: An analysis provides the following information: “ Some studies have linked low levels of potassium in the diet with high blood pressure. There is evidence that potassium supplements may cause a slight drop in blood pressure.” (two)

3. Controls the osmotic balance

The osmotic balance is one that is defined by a balance between the liquid of the cells and their extracellular medium, this can be favored with hydration , even more so with the consumption of isotonic drinks ideal for rehydration and that are made with potassium and another mineral class.

4. Eliminate fluid retention

Also known as edema, fluid retention is a state where fluid collects under the skin, accumulating and creating swelling anywhere in the body .

To highlight:   Potassium manages to maintain fluid balance , in addition to preventing the effects of sodium, a cause of edema.

5. Promotes muscle and nerve functions

The presence of potassium is enormous in muscle tissues, where it improves their synthesis. It is important in sports, for example, since being an electrolyte improves the transmission of ions in motor functions and nerve impulses in the body.

What foods are rich in potassium?

You will be impressed to know that potassium is very present in most of the foods we eat, as long as they are properly prepared and maintaining the nutrients. Therefore, below we mention the foods rich in the amount of potassium:

1. Carnes

Red meats are very rich in protein and also in potassium levels. In this sense, beef and lean veal have approximately 350 mg of the electrolyte, while pork oscillates between 370 mg.

Note: On the other hand, lean meats or white meats that have high levels of potassium range from rabbit (with 370 mg), turkey breast (with 330 mg) and chicken (262 mg), although the latter is of white meats with very little potassium level.

2. Fish

Fish are great sources of potassium , individually we get some like salmon (363 mg), tuna (537 mg), anchovies (383 mg) and also turbot with 290 mg of potassium.

To highlight: A study highlights the following: “Among the minerals in salmon, phosphorus, selenium, iodine and potassium stand out at a high level” . (3)

3. Vegetables

The mineral “K” (potassium) can also be found in most vegetables, including vegetables with greenish tones, highlighting, for example, broccoli (370 mg), spinach (560 mg), zucchini (261 mg) and even beets (325 mg).

You should know: Other foods with lower degrees of potassium, but not disposable , are lettuce , asparagus, fresh carrots, cucumbers and also corn to a certain extent, from 50 to 200 mg approximately.

4. Legumes

Legumes or also called legumes, are a series of very healthy homogeneous foods, containers of potassium and even proteins, highlighting black beans (1500 mg), red beans (1406 mg) and soybeans (1797 mg).

Note: Other legumes with a smaller amount, but equal relevance for consumption, are  chickpeas , lentils, broad beans and green beans, with measurements from 718 mg to 211 mg.

5. Fruits

There is a variety of fruits that we usually buy and consume on a daily basis, many of them are sources of many nutrients, without excluding potassium at any time, although the banana is the most famous fruit with 385 mg of potassium.

To highlight: However, there are other fruits that are sources of potassium, highlighting papaya , prune, avocado, raisins, guava, kiwi, mango, melon, among many others that range from 700 mg to 400 mg of “K”.

6. Whole grains

Whole grains are those that have not been processed in refining, so they still keep the parts of their shells that are rich in vitamins, fiber and other nutrients.

In this sense, when it comes to potassium, the most relevant whole foods are corn flakes, wheat germ, oat flakes and rye, all of which have quantities from 1,070 mg to approximately 166 mg of potassium.

7. Nuts

Nuts are not far behind on the subject of nutrition, since they are essential for the body and its strengthening, with a variety of micronutrients , including fiber and caloric content.

You should know: Among the nuts with the highest potassium level, we find pistachios, almonds, pine nuts, sunflower seeds and even walnuts, ranging from 1,000 mg to 750 and 500 mg.

How many grams of potassium should be consumed per day?

Of course, everything in excess is really harmful, the same applies to nutrients. Therefore, the levels of potassium that should be consumed are measured as follows: children (400 to 2,300 mg per day), adolescents (3,000 mg and 2,000 mg per day), and adults (3,400 mg to 2,900 mg per day).

Note: On the other hand, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily intake of 3.5 grams of potassium (K) in total, other organizations recommend exactly 400 grams.

What if there is a lack of potassium in the body?

The lack of potassium in the body can be fatal , just like the very excess of potassium, there are many reasons why it can be serious, so we will expose them below:

1. Cardiac disorders

On the one hand, the lack of potassium in the body can cause hypokalemia, a state of low potassium presence in the blood, causing a decrease in hemoglobin concentration . On the other hand, there is also hyperkalemia in an excessive level of potassium, capable of causing cardiac arrhythmias.

2. Fatigue and muscle weakness

With the same hypokalemia, other important organs of the body can be affected, including weakness of muscle tissue with symptoms of cramps and sometimes even muscle paralysis, accompanied by feelings of low energy and weakness (fatigue).

3. Gastrointestinal disorders

If these types of conditions are not adequately treated, they spread to the intestinal tract, causing chronic diarrhea and even causing problems or kidney disease, with symptoms such as frequent urine agitation.

Key Findings

  • Potassium is an electrolyte mineral that is capable of conducting cellular electricity to the tissues and organs of the body.
  • Foods rich in potassium are vegetables, greens and even red and lean meats.
  • The grams to consume per day depend a lot on age, although it is summarized at 3.5 grams according to the WHO .
  • Too little potassium and even too much potassium can cause many heart problems, muscle weakness, or kidney disease.

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