Potassium is a necessary mineral that helps the kidneys, heart and other organs function properly. Fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium, providing people who eat a healthy diet with plenty of potassium. Unfortunately, many people in the United States don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables per day, causing a potassium deficiency. Potassium supplements are often recommended by doctors and nutritionists for people who don’t have enough potassium in their diet in order to prevent or treat different medical conditions that result from lack of potassium.

potassium from bananas
Aside from eating a diet low in fresh fruits and vegetables, there are several reasons that a person can have low potassium, which can result in the need to take a supplement. These causes include:

  • Taking medications, such as diuretics for high blood pressure, that expel potassium from the body at a higher rate than normal
  • Losing potassium through sweat from physical activity
  • Working at a physically demanding job
  • Having a digestive medical condition, such as Crohn’s disease, which limits the absorption of potassium eaten in food
  • Smoking
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Having an eating disorder
  • Digestive sickness causing potassium loss through diarrhea and/or vomiting

Though every fluid in the human body contains potassium, the majority of it is located in the cells. It is a necessary mineral and an electrolyte, which carries a positive electric charge. Potassium is responsible for:

  • Proper contracting and relaxing of the muscles and nerves
  • Keeping the heart healthy with a steady, regular heartbeat
  • Keeping the proper amount of fluid levels and pH balance in the blood
  • Strong bones, preventing the kidneys from excreting too much calcium that can cause osteoporosis
  • Preventing kidney stones by excreting excess citrate through the urine
  • Regulating blood pressure levels

When a person is deficient in potassium, an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, bone problems, muscle cramping, kidney stones and kidney problems may occur. Though doctors recommend eating a healthy diet as the first defense against these problems, if a person can’t properly absorb potassium or they expel too much, supplements should be taken to prevent these problems.

Potassium is usually one of the ingredients in most daily multi-vitamins. It is also found in multi-supplement products such as Elimidrol.

A study by St. George’s Medical School in London found that taking potassium supplements lowers blood pressure. The study tested adults who had an average blood pressure of 151/93. After taking potassium supplements, participants were able to reduce their blood pressure to an average of 138/88.

Another study looked at the benefits that potassium supplements have on bone health. The study, which was published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, found that those who took a potassium supplement, along with calcium and vitamin D, were able to significantly increase their bone mineral density and microarchieticutre at many sites. Strong bones in seniors may decrease their risk of breaks due to falls.

Current dietary guidelines recommend that people consume 1,600 to 2,000 milligrams of potassium each day. For those who fall short, supplements can help provide the necessary mineral to the body, helping to keep it strong and working properly.