As a mineral, potassium is involved in various bodily functions, which is why an adequate intake through food is essential. Potassium contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system and muscles. It is also involved in maintaining normal blood pressure. Together with magnesium, the mineral is also important for normal heart function. Furthermore, potassium as a so-called electrolyte plays a role in the regulation of the water balance.
The recommended daily intake of potassium for adults and adolescents aged 15 and over is 2,000 milligrams per day. The requirement is not increased during pregnancy or lactation. In children, the daily requirement increases with age:
- 1 to 3 years: 1,000 mg
- 4 to 6 years: 1,400 mg
- 7 to 9 years: 1,600 mg
- 10 to 12 years: 1,700 mg
- 13 to 14 years: 1,900 mg
Healthy people cover their potassium requirements with a balanced and varied diet. Potassium is found in more or less all foods. Many nuts and seeds are rich in potassium. The mineral is also found in the following foods, among others: avocados, kale, potatoes, spinach, Brussels sprouts, bananas, honeydew melon, kiwis, as well as whole wheat bread, and most mushrooms.
A slightly increased need for potassium may be present in people with cardiovascular disease. However, a deficiency is quite rare. However, intestinal diseases, high salt consumption, or alcohol abuse, for example, can lead to a lack of the mineral. Possible symptoms are tiredness, dizziness, nausea, headaches, cramps, and mood swings, in severe cases also muscle weakness, constipation, signs of paralysis, or cardiac arrhythmia.
If you have reason to believe that your blood potassium level is too low, have it checked by a doctor. He can recommend a particularly high-potassium diet and prescribe appropriate food supplements in acute cases. Self-medication with dietary supplements is strongly discouraged.