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The Power of Potassium



Potassium is a major mineral and critical electrolyte that is abundantly present in seawater (and sea salt) and soil.

Potassium contains a positive electrical charge and works closely with chloride in regulating blood pressure and PH balance. Potassium is necessary for the heart, kidneys, and other organs to work normally. Potassium allows our muscles to move, our nerves to fire, and our kidneys to filter blood. The right balance of potassium literally allows the heart to beat.

Potassium and Depression

Low potassium levels have been associated with greater risk for mood disturbances and depression. A 2008 study published in the “British Journal of Nutrition” examined the relationship between potassium and mood, and found that a high-potassium diet helped to relieve symptoms of depression and tension among study subjects. These findings suggest both that potassium may be useful in the treatment of mood disturbances and that low potassium levels may be linked to symptoms of depression.

Potassium and Pain

Potassium deficiency can cause irritability, fatigue, muscle weakness, cramps, Restless Leg Syndrome, and chronic pain. Depression often accompanies these symptoms. Depression and pain are intimately intertwined. According to the September 2004 Harvard Mental Health Letter, “Pain is depressing, and depression causes and intensifies pain. People with chronic pain have three times the average risk of developing psychiatric symptoms — usually mood or anxiety disorders — and depressed patients have three times the average risk of developing chronic pain”.

Potassium Helps Regulate Serotonin

A study in the journal “Nature Neuroscience” investigated the role of potassium in the regulation of serotonin, the neurotransmitter primarily targeted by antidepressants. The researchers speculated that potassium channels in the brain may play an important role in serotonin regulation. Potassium appears to act as a facilitator in ensuring the brain’s ability to properly utilize serotonin. Depression is often characterized by negative thoughts such as guilt, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, low self-worth, and suicide. Potassium is required to activate neurons involved in positive thoughts and feelings. Without the electrical charge sparked by potassium, neurotransmitters like serotonin cannot be utilized to make us feel better. This may explain why even a slight decrease in potassium levels can result in significant feelings of anxiety.

What Causes Potassium Deficiency?

Potassium deficiency can be caused by bulimia, chronic diarrhea, diuretics, and Crohn’s disease. One of the biggest causes of potassium deficiency is excessive consumption of cola drinks. This is one of many good reasons to limit cola drinks or, better yet, to not drink them at all.

The Canadian Mental Health Association reports that low levels of potassium, caused by hormonal imbalances that contribute to premenstrual syndrome, can lead to depression. In addition, they explain that consuming excessive quantities of caffeine, sodium, and alcohol can contribute to deficiency and lead to depression. Women who have recently given birth also may experience a drop in potassium associated with a decrease in progesterone. This can result in postpartum depression.

How To Increase Potassium in Your Diet

Most people probably associate bananas with potassium and while bananas are a source of potassium, there are better ones. One of the top things on the list is dark green leafy vegetables, especially spinach and chard. White beans are also an excellent source.

Sources of potassium:

  • Beans
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Apricots
  • Winter squash (acorn, butternut)
  • Yoghurt
  • Salmon
  • Avocados
  • Mushrooms
  • Bananas
  • Nuts, like almonds and peanuts
  • Citrus fruits
  • Milk
  • Potatoes
  • Raisins
  • Dates
  • Prunes
  • Carrots

Some vitamins and minerals, including potassium, leach out of fruits and vegetables into cooking liquid. So foods that contain significant amounts of potassium, like carrots, potatoes and greens among others, should not be boiled in water with the water thrown away. It is best to steam, bake, grill, broil, sauté, or roast vegetables to maintain more of the nutrients. If vegetables are cooked in water, the water should be consumed rather than discarded, as you would do with soup or stew for instance. You can also save the liquid to use as stock in other dishes.


35 Responses to “The Power of Potassium”

  1. henrydepetro says:

    Very glad I found you!!!

  2. Dawn Pickin says:

    You don`t mention that Conns syndrome has a detormentory effect on your potassium level.

    • admin says:

      If a person has a medical condition that interferes with absorption of nutrients, they should certainly discuss that with their doctor. Thanks.

    • laura says:

      yep thats how they detected mine low pottassium had to put me on a drip to raise pottassium to operate glad others are doing same as me parfectly safe to have pregnacys after tumour removal but just need progesterone to maintain pregnancys xx

  3. Mark Rowland says:

    A 1978 study of US marines in northern Queensland, Australia, showed that excessive sweating, some drinking 15 litres in a day, caused severe, debilitating symptom. Working in similar conditions calls for suppliments.

    • admin says:

      That is a good point, Mark. It is not common to drink that much water, or need to, but if you do, you will lose a lot of water soluble vitamins and minerals. My husband was a farrier (horse shoer) and sweated profusely from that work. He had to take sodium pills to help him retain some of his body’s water because he couldn’t replenish it fast enough.

  4. Jonathan Kilbey says:

    You don’t mention that although Licorice is high in potassium over consumption leads to very low potassium levels. Hence best not eaten!

  5. Mimi says:

    1 cup of coconut water carries 600mg of potassium.

  6. Kaya says:

    Some antibiotics (f. ex Clarithromycin) strips the body for potassium resulting in extreme anxiety and panic. Beware.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for posting this, Kaya!! I have had so much trouble with antibiotics causing panic, and the doctors don’t believe me. I’ll definitely look into this.

  7. laura says:

    this was 2012/ 2018

  8. Deeali says:

    Thanks, I am potassium Happy Now .
    Reason why Potato Chips , Aloo Paratha makes Us happy 😊

  9. Nils says:

    Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. Id prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don?t mind. Natually Ill give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Nick says:

    Thank you I had noticed a measurable difference in my mood from eating potatoes. But then it decreased, but now I believe that may have been because recently I have been boiling the potatoes to cook them.

  11. Karen says:

    Does anyone know how quickly potassium levels can be replensihed by drinking potassium chloride in water? Is 24 hours possible? I added a pinch to each glass of water and within 24 hours felt a mood shift and energy increase, plus had a better sleep.

    • Sal says:

      I had low potassium so was put on a Chlorvescent and it took a month to get me out of my depression but now I feel great. I’m on medication that leashes potassium from your body but these tablets have made all the difference

    • Kalium says:

      I do the same, just add some potassium chloride salt to a glass of water a day. I combine it with magnesium, btw. Sleep improved enormously from day one, I feel much more rested, less anxious. It is said potassium levels can be raised relatively easy, in a week time or so.

  12. Sal says:

    I had low potassium so was put on a Chlorvescent and it took a month to get me out of my depression but now I feel great. I’m on medication that leashes potassium from your body but these tablets have made all the difference

  13. Therese says:

    This has been a wealth of information as I recently came off an antidepressant and wanted to address my depression through my diet

  14. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m inspired!
    Extremely helpful information specially the ultimate section :
    ) I handle such info a lot. I used to be looking for this particular information for a
    long time. Thank you and good luck.

  15. Petros says:

    Very very interesting!!!!!!!!!.

  16. Lizard says:

    I have had low potassium from birth. My siblings also suffer from it. I have seen many doctors through my lifetime and not one has been able to help me except to say eat bananas. If you have low potassium please cut sodium out of your diet completely!! It changed my life! God Bless!

  17. Alex says:

    Potassium deficiency does not cause restless leg syndrome. That’s been disproven by John Hopkins. Serum Ferritin levels (in the brain) below 150 can cause RLS. An IV iron infusion is the solution as oral iron does not raise ferritin to these levels.

  18. terryl says:

    hello, i get really bad leg cramps that wake me up. it feels like a charley horse and sometimes my toes get stuck in a crooked position. usually i have to message my legs to make it stop.

  19. Richard says:

    Can high K levels also unbalance you and cause anxiety problems? Maybe it works in about the same way if high not low?

  20. Troy Turley says:

    I suffered from restless leg syndrome for years until I started drinking a V8 juice (12 oz) pretty much every day. I assume it was the potassium. It seems to help with my mood as well, especially in the winter.

    • Sal Milne says:

      there are so many naturul foods out there that contain potassium and so people should be eating them. It would make them a lot happier

  21. Michael Ballard says:

    I was suffering from all the symptoms of potassium deficiency’s for many years before I discovered what was wrong. And besides the muscle weakness, depression, fatigue, anxiety that are mentioned in your website there were numerous others that weren’t mentioned that I had.

    Nightmares, “floaters“ in my eyes, fear of heights, fear of running fast serious depression especially when first waking up, and thoughts of suicide. Sometimes a loss of the ability to control my arms.

    This began mildly 20 years ago but gradually came to a total disability. When I started ensuring I was getting at least 2000 mg per day I started feeling normal and all of the symptoms, everyone of them, disappeared. And when I finally found Ways of getting my potassium intake up to 4500 mg I have become elated, euphoric, totally positive attitude,! Actually a total miracle.

    I had needed a total hip replacement which required opioids for a while. And whenever I tried to stop taking them the withdrawal symptoms were horrendous. When I boosted my potassium intake to 4500 mg a day all and every withdrawal symptoms disappeared.!! I am now beginning to wonder whether the symptoms of opioid with drawl are inextricably intertwined with potassium deficiency. I have a science background and I think Research in this area would be rewarding

    • Sal says:

      I couldn’t believe the change in my attitude to life after I started taking the potassium supplement – I just wish my doctors had discovered my problem years ago. I have never been so calm in all my life. I have epilepsy and they have discovered that some medications can interfere with potassium channels in the brain

    • Carel says:

      Thank you so much, Michael, for your post. I was researching potassium because I was having “die off” symptoms after starting a natural antibiotic (oregano oil) and had terrible anxiety and other symptoms yesterday and wanted to find a natural alternative to Alka Seltzer Gold, which worked really well in the past but I did not have any on hand. It contains potassium so my guess was that I was low in that, and when I checked my total daily potassium intake for the past three months, I could clearly see that when I was getting only low amounts, I had to take a lot of homeopathic supplements for both anxiety and depression to be able to even partially function. As I have increased my potassium intake through better nutrition the past few weeks, I have gotten better but gradually. Now I will aim for 4500 mg a day. Thanks again!

  22. Sal says:

    I’m interested to know if there are any other redheads out there who suffered from depression as I’m wondering if redheads are born with damaged potassium channels – my father had such a fowl temper I don’t think he was born with any potassium at all !


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