Potassium is an essential trace mineral belonging to the alkali metal group on the periodic table of elements. Potassium is vital to the proper function of living cells. It is especially important to the heart, the kidneys, muscle contractions, and digestion. Potassium can be found in a variety of foods, including bananas, potatoes, avocados, some legumes, chocolate, nuts (notably pistachios and almonds), soybeans, and bran, but it is also found in smaller quantities in many other fruits, vegetables, and meats.
Americans generally ingest sufficient potassium from their diets, but those with poor diets or special health circumstances run the risk of developing potassium deficiency (hypokalemia), the symptoms of which are heart palpitations, dizziness, numbness, muscle aches, and even paralysis. Advanced hypokalemia is extremely dangerous and ought to be treated by a doctor, but potassium deficiency can generally be prevented through dietary alterations or the use of a quality potassium supplement.
Potassium is used for an array of ailments, including high blood pressure, acne, headaches, insomnia, Alzheimer’s disease, constipation, stress, arthritis, cancer, and alcoholism. Certain studies conducted on potassium’s potential as a means of treatment for various health conditions have been encouraging. Studies involving the use of potassium to treat hypokalemia have yielded strong results, predictably enough.
Some studies suggest that potassium is linked to bone health, and may help prevent osteoporosis. Others have indicated a link between potassium and lower blood pressure. Ingesting plenty of dietary potassium may also lower the risk of stroke. Though potassium is generally safe in the quantities provided by supplements, hypokalemia is a serious condition, and those who suspect they are exhibiting symptoms of hypokalemia ought to first consult with a medical practitioner before routinely taking a potassium supplement.