Potassium is a mineral in your body that helps your nerves and muscles work.

A recent study provides early evidence that increased potassium may help prevent hardening of the arteries, which contributes to serious heart-related conditions.

Hardening of the arteries causes plaques of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances that reduce blood flow. This leads to serious conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

The new research provides a deeper understanding of how dietary potassium prevents hardening of the arteries. Beans, spinach, bananas, yogurt, and potatoes are good sources of potassium.

For most people, natural foods rich in potassium are safe and part of a healthy diet. But extra potassium may not be right for everyone. Certain people need to watch their potassium intake, such as those with kidney issues or taking certain medicines.

Source: NIH Medline Plus Magazine

What is a safe or normal potassium level?

A typical potassium level for adults is between 3.5 and 5.0 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). Hyperkalemia occurs when potassium levels go above 5.5 mmol/L. A potassium level above 6.5 mmol/L can cause heart problems that require immediate medical attention.

Source: Cleveland Clinic

How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

Understanding the heart-healthy benefits of potassium

Foods that are rich in potassium are important in managing high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, because potassium lessens the effects of sodium. The more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine. Potassium also helps to ease tension in your blood vessel walls, which helps further lower blood pressure.

Increasing potassium through diet is recommended in adults with blood pressure above 120/80 mm Hg who are otherwise healthy. Potassium can be harmful in patients with kidney disease, any condition that affects how the body handles potassium or those who take certain medications. The decision of whether to take excess potassium should be discussed with your doctor. 

Potassium and your diet

The recommended potassium intake for an average adult 19-50 years of age is 3,400 milligrams (mg) per day for men and 2,600 mg per day for women.

Many of the elements of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet — fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) dairy foods and fish — are good natural sources of potassium. For example, a medium banana has about 226 mg of potassium and half a cup of plain mashed sweet potatoes has 456 mg.

Other potassium-rich foods include:

  • Apricots and apricot juice
  • Avocados
  • Cantaloupe and honeydew melon
  • Fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk
  • Fat-free yogurt
  • Grapefruit and grapefruit juice (talk to your health care professional if you’re taking a cholesterol-lowering drug)
  • Greens
  • Halibut
  • Lima beans
  • Molasses 
  • Mushrooms
  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Prunes and prune juice
  • Raisins and dates
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes, tomato juice and tomato sauce
  • Tuna

Source: Heart.org

Symptoms of low Potassium

Few people meet the daily recommended potassium intake, which is 3,400 mg for men and 2,600 mg for women.

Nevertheless, hypokalemia is rarely caused by dietary deficiency alone. It can be caused by a number of factors, including fluid loss, malnutrition, shock, using certain medications, and medical conditions like kidney failure.

Common signs and symptoms of potassium deficiency include weakness and fatigue, muscle cramps, muscle aches and stiffness, tingles and numbness, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, digestive symptoms, and changes in blood pressure

Sources of low

Source: Health line