The role of potassium in our body - GulfToday

The role of potassium in our body

Abeer Majed Al Kusayer

Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Al Qassimi Hospital – Ministry of Health and Prevention

Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Al Qassimi Hospital – Ministry of Health and Prevention


Potassium is a mineral classified as an electrolyte because it is highly reactive in water. Interestingly, many powerful health benefits are linked to a potassium rich diet. It can help to reduce blood pressure and retention of water, protect against strokes, osteoporosis, and kidney stones.

It helps the body to control fluid, transmits nerve signals and regulates contractions in muscles. Your cells contain approximately 98 per cent of potassium. Of these, 80 per cent are found in the muscle cells, while 20 per cent are found in the bones, liver and red blood cells.

Potassium level ranges:
Green light: 3.5 – 5.0 mmol/L
Caution light: 5.0 – 6.0 mmol/L
Red light: more than 6 mmol/L

Nervous system:
In activating nerve impulses throughout your nervous system, this mineral plays an essential role. Nerve impulses help to control muscle contractions, heartbeat, reflexes and many other processes.
Muscle regulation and heart contraction:
Potassium levels affect muscle contractions significantly. Changed levels can cause muscle weakness and irregular heartbeat in the heart.

Reducing blood pressure:
Many studies found that when people with high blood pressure increased their intake of potassium, their systolic blood pressure decreased by 3.49 mmHg, while their blood pressure decreased by 1.96 mmHg.

Prevent strokes:
Several studies have shown that eating a diet that is rich in potassium can prevent strokes. Scientists found that those who ate the most potassium had a 24 per cent lower risk of stroke than those who ate the least.

Prevent osteoporosis:
It is often connected to low calcium levels, an essential bone health mineral. Interestingly, research indicates that a diet rich in potassium can help avoid osteoporosis by reducing the amount of calcium the body loses in urine.

Prevent kidney stones:
Calcium is a common mineral in renal stones and lower level of calcium in the urine is found in potassium citrate. In that way, potassium can help stop kidney stones formation. There is potassium citrate in many fruits and vegetables, so you can add it to your diet easily. There is a 51 per cent lower risk of kidney stones for those who consumed the most potassium daily.

Sources of potassium:
Beet greens, cooked: 909 mg
Peas, cooked: 271 mg
Pinto beans, cooked: 646 mg
Portobello mushrooms,
grilled: 521 mg
Spinach, cooked: 466 mg
Salmon, cooked: 414 mg
Sweet potato, baked: 475 mg
Yams, baked: 670 mg
Kale: 447 mg
Avocado: 485 mg
White potatoes, baked: 544 mg
Bananas: 358 mg

Potassium deficiency:
Deficiencies in potassium or excess rarely occur in the diet. However, it is important for your overall health to maintain an adequate intake of potassium.

Potassium helps to control the balance of fluids, muscle contractions and nerve signals. In addition, a high-potassium diet can help reduce blood pressure and retention of water, protect against strokes and prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones. Eat more potassium-rich foods, such as beet greens, spinach, kale and salmon, to get more into your diet.


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