Potassium it’s a mineral and an electrolyte that plays a role in many essential body functions like:

  • resting cellular-membrane potential
  • vascular tone
  • blood pressure
  • pH balance
  • musles contractions
  • gastrointestinal motility
  • glucose and insulin metabolism

Food Sources

Main sources of potassium are:

  • Fruits such as bananas, avocado, apricots, cantaloupe
  • Vegetables such as potatoes, spinach, broccoli
  • Beans and nuts such as almond, sunflower seeds, pistachios
  • Meats
  • Whole grain


Overdose with potassium it’s called hyperkalemia. Causes of hyperkalemia are:

  • Kidney diseases ( Acute and Chronic kidney failure)
  • Food rich in potassium
  • Taking potassium-conserving diuretics
  • Diabetes

Too much potassium can lead to ventricular arrhythmia, stimulation of aldosterone secretion, insulin and catecholamines.


Deficiency of potassium it’s called hypokalemia. Certain condition can cause hypokalemia:

  • Excessive diahrrea, vomiting
  • Kidney diseases (primary aldosteronism, cushing syndrome, secondary aldosteronism)
  • Alkalosis

Depending on how severe your deficiency is, symptoms can be from mild to life-threating like:

  • Irregular heartbeat (atrial and ventricular extrasystole, ventricular fibrillation)
  • Muscle cramps or paralyze (membrane hyperpolarization)
  • Polyuria 

Call your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms.


Pathophysiology (Text book) – Stjepan Gamulin