Felicity Mann

07 December 2015

Why do we need potassium?

Potassium has many important roles within the body. It is found in all cells in the body, and levels are regulated by the kidneys. It works alongside sodium to maintain a normal blood pressure.

Potassium is known as an electrolyte, and this helps to maintain a healthy balance of fluids in the body. It also helps to transmit electrical pulses to allow for proper nerve and muscle function.

Bone health is maintained with calcium and phosphorous, and it is potassium which regulates the levels of these two minerals. This means that potassium is also essential for strong and healthy bones.

Natural sources of potassium

As potassium is present in almost all fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, it should not be difficult to get all the potassium we need through a healthy and balanced diet. Adults need approximately 3,500 mg of potassium daily.

Food source Potassium content (milligrams, mg)
1 sweet potato 694
1 baked potato 610
Chicken, 100g 450
1 medium banana 422
1 large tomato 300
1 tbsp molasses 295
1 kiwi 240
1 Orange 237


Potassium deficiency

Potassium deficiency is not uncommon, but it often eludes diagnosis. It can have few symptoms to begin with, though mild symptoms of muscle weakness, fatigue, constipation and faintness. It is most common among the elderly, whose kidneys struggle to regulate potassium levels, those on diuretics, or those with eating disorders, such as bulimia.

Potassium deficiency is usually easily corrected by restoring a normal level of potassium into the diet. In particularly severe cases, or in those with complex liver conditions, complications may develop, such as abnormal heart rhythms.

Too much potassium

Normally, if too much potassium is consumed, the kidneys filter it out and it is excreted in the urine, stool or sweat. However, if the kidneys are not as effective at filtering, the excess levels of potassium can accumulate in the body. Too much potassium is called hyperkalemia.

Initial symptoms of hyperkalemia include abdominal cramps, muscle weakness and irritability. Eventually it can lead to inhibition of muscle regulation, and in particular heart problems.


Add your comments

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

Check input OK
Check input OK


  • Pearly Finnis 's photo avatar
    Pearly Finnis — 05.05.2018 07:45
    Very informative..put in a very simple language that anyone can understand...not even general gps can explain in that maner.. Me too. I only knew banana is agood source of potassium. Thats about it!!! Thankyou for opening my eyes...


    • Felicity's photo avatar
      Felicity — 08.05.2018 09:11
      Hello Pearly, I'm glad you found this easy to understand and informative. Kindest regards, Felicity.


  • Bikash's photo avatar
    Bikash — 22.02.2018 19:17
    good job


  • Denise Guffy's photo avatar
    Denise Guffy — 13.01.2018 21:08
    Always have problems with my potassium how can I keep it under control


    • Felicity 's photo avatar
      Felicity — 15.01.2018 11:16
      Hello Denise, have you had this confirmed by your doctor? Please feel free to come back to us with more information.


    • Ashley's photo avatar
      Ashley — 08.07.2018 21:23
      Magnesium helps your body maintain potassium. You might want to get your magnesium levels checked


    • Ashley's photo avatar
      Ashley — 08.07.2018 21:23
      Magnesium helps your body maintain potassium. You might want to get your magnesium levels checked



Spinach and beef are the most famous sources of iron – but how else can you get more of this vital mineral in your diet?

More about iron

We love pumpkin seeds!

Pumpkin seeds are packed full of vitamins and minerals like zinc, vitamin E and B vitamins.

Pumpkin seed health benefits

Did you know?

Vitamin C promotes healthy circulation and strengthens vein walls, so it can be really beneficial for people with varicose veins

The best vitamins for varicose veins

Video: Fermented Tomato Ketchup

Ready to try something new? Watch Emma's recipe video for a delicious Fermented Tomato Ketchup!

Get the recipe

Kick it up a notch!

Our Herbamare combines herbs and vegetables with a little sea salt to create a delicious, healthy seasoning for any dish!

Find out more

Healthy & nutritious dinner ideas

Get new recipes in your inbox every week. Sign up now

Sign up & get new recipes every week