Unlike many trace elements or micronutrients, the majority of Americans do not get enough potassium in their diet. While approximately 4,700 mg of potassium is recommended daily, most people do not consume near enough. It is estimated that less than 2% of the American population meet the daily recommended intake for potassium — yet it is one of the more important minerals in the human body.
There are many reasons why a potassium deficiency should be addressed immediately, including this mineral’s impact on the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscular tissue. Low levels of potassium are referred to as hypokalemia, which can cause headaches, dehydration, and swelling.
Classified as an electrolyte, this mineral carries an electric charge once dissolved in body fluids, including blood. However, the majority of potassium in the body is found inside cells, supporting optimal muscle, nerve, and cell functioning.
In fact, approximately 98% of potassium found in the human body is located inside cells — 80% of which is found in muscle cells followed by 20% across liver cells, bone cells, and red blood cells. Potassium has also been shown to reduce water retention and blood pressure, protecting against everything from kidney stones to cardiovascular complications.
Also important for the nervous system, potassium plays an essential role in nerve impulses. These impulses also help regulate the heart and aid muscle contractions while supporting other key processes.