Potassium may be the most important electrolyte for the maintenance and proper balance of body fluid. Potassium and sodium work closely together in maintaining the internal and external fluid balance of all cellular structures located throughout the body. The majority of potassium found in the body is located in muscle tissues.
Potassium is available for biochemical use through a number of forms. The forms found in dietary sources include; potassium acetate, potassium bicarbonate, potassium citrate, potassium chloride, and potassium gluconate.
Potassium also regulates the body’s acidity levels, or PH levels. Having a proper fluid balance is fundamental in regulating smooth muscle, cardiac, kidney, and skeletal functioning. Potassium is also vital for the proper conduction of nerve impulses that stimulate muscle contraction.
The best food sources for potassium include fruits, vegetables, and juices. Potassium intakes may vary due to individual absorption rates and consumer product choices. The dietary sources listed below are based upon the percentage of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) in a particular food source. Percentages are based upon a 3.5oz serving: 
|Potassium rich foods||Potassium Content||RDA % *||Calories|
|Dried mixed fruit||880mg||25%||230|
|Nuts average (unsalted)||600mg||17%||600|
|Baked Potato + skin||600mg||17%||130|
|Soya beans boiled||510mg||15%||140|
|Muesli low salt||450mg||13%||360|
There are a variety of conditions directly associated with adequate intakes of potassium. Hypokalemia (having too little potassium concentration in the blood) may be among the most critical of potassium-related conditions to correct. Studies suggest that this stage of potassium deficiency may be in direct correlation with cardiac, and/or congestive heart failure.  Signs of abnormal heart rhythm and function are usually measured by a physician via EKG, or electrocardiogram. Potassium may also prevent the likelihood of one developing high blood pressure, a contributing factor to cardiovascular health.
Potassium has the ability to provide for other preventative properties. As we age, potassium may assist us in the ability to preserve the bone mass developed in the first three decades of our lives.  Proper dietary intakes of potassium may lessen the likelihood of an individual developing a disorder associated with his/her skeletal structure. Furthermore, a diet that is adequately supplied with potassium may also reduce the incidence of stroke in both men and women. [7, 8]
Lastly, lower potassium serum levels in the blood may increase the occurrence of asthma in children, and the development of kidney stones in adults. [9, 10]
The recommended daily intakes of potassium, or Estimated Minimum Requirement (mEq):
|Birth to 6 months||500 mg or 13 mEq|
|7-12 months||700 mg or 18 mEq|
|1 year||1000 mg or 26 mEq|
|2-5 years||1400 mg or 36 mEq|
|6-9 years||1600 mg or 41 mEq|
|Adults||2000 mg or 51 mEq||2000 mg or 51 mEq||2000 mg or 51 mEq||2000 mg or 51 mEq|
As previously mentioned, hypokalemia is the primary deficiency associated with the dietary absence of potassium. Illness (flu), fasting, diarrhea, eating-disorders, vomiting, or use of diuretics, are all areas of concern in the development of any mineral deficiency.
Certain medications may further inhibit the absorption of potassium and other minerals. Persons suffering from severe burns, diabetes, and kidney disease are especially at risk. Sign and symptoms of potassium deficiency includes; cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), extreme fatigue and muscle weakness, irritability, muscle paralysis. If a severe potassium deficiency is left uncorrected, further complications may arise, including death. 
Of Note: the body’s supply of potassium decreases with age. This is due to the loss of muscle tissue and function; referred to as sarcopenia. Therefore, it is imperative to obtain adequate intakes of potassium via diet, or by means of nutritional supplementation.
The excess intake of potassium is usually characterized by nausea and diarrhea. Hyperkalemia is the term used to describe excess potassium serum levels in the blood. Certain medications, such as ACE inhibitors, can cause increase levels of potassium in blood. Excessive intakes of potassium (acute hyperkalemia) can prove lethal; progressing from an initial decrease in heart rate, to cardiac arrest.
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