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Potassium

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Potassium is an alkali metal, a mineral that is the main component of the fluid within cells. Potassium is essential for the proper functioning of cells, as it helps to maintain an adequate amount of fluid within the cells and plays a role in the electrical properties of cells, thereby (involved in cell-to-cell signalling and communication).

Because of its role in electrical properties, potassium is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system and muscles. Since the heart is also operated by muscles, it affects blood pressure and heart rate. Both too low and too high levels of potassium cause abnormal heart rhythms. Adequate levels can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

For people who do strenuous physical work or sports, it is particularly important to supplement, as reduced potassium levels increase fatigue and muscle fatigue.

Potassium-rich foods:

  • Fruits: apricots, plums, oranges, grapes, bananas
  • Lentils, potatoes
  • Spinach, soya
  • Chicken breast

Recommended daily intake of potassium (RDI):

  • For men: 3400 mg
  • For women: 2600 mg
  • During pregnancy: 2900 mg
  • During breastfeeding: 2800 mg

No tolerable upper limit is set for potassium, as excessive potassium consumption is not thought to be harmful for healthy people. However, excessive intake may cause side effects:

  • In people with chronic kidney disease
  • People with heart problems (especially those taking blood pressure medication, ACE inhibitors)