Do We Store Potassium?

Fruits and veggies typically contain potassium.

Fruits and veggies typically contain potassium.

Your body seems to store lots of things -- a little extra cushioning on your thighs, carbohydrates for extra energy and fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A. But when it comes to the mineral potassium, your body handles things a little differently. Instead of focusing on potassium storage, your body works for potassium balance. This means you need to take in potassium each day to keep your body healthy and working optimally.

Potassium's Roles

Potassium is an ultra-important mineral when it comes to your health. The mineral keeps your heart beating, helps your body use carbohydrates for energy and conducts electrical nerve impulses. You need about 4,700 milligrams of potassium each day to meet your recommended intake, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Taking in enough potassium on a daily basis helps to keep your blood pressure low and reduce your risk for painful kidney stones.

Potassium in Your Blood

Potassium is the major mineral found inside your cells and is present in every fluid in the body. While this may be true, potassium is found in relatively small concentrations in the blood. Your kidneys are one of the major organs responsible for regulating potassium's concentration. The kidneys filter your blood, excreting excess amounts and holding onto potassium if you don't have enough or have the right amount. Potassium is generally considered to be circulating in the body, but not stored.

Nutrient Storage Examples

To understand the small differences between storage and circulation, you can examine other nutrients that are stored in the body. An example is fat-soluble vitamins, which include vitamins A, D, E and K. When you eat a food that contains fat-soluble vitamins, your body uses what it needs and stores the rest in your liver and fatty tissues. If your body does not have enough fat-soluble vitamins to perform daily functions, it releases the stored vitamins for use. This is different from potassium, which is not stored in a particular tissue for later use. Instead, it is circulated in your fluids.

Potassium Intakes

Potassium food sources include meat, milk, fruits and vegetables. If you eat a variety of healthy foods on a daily basis, you likely take in enough potassium. However, many Americans do not eat enough potassium-containing foods, according to the Colorado State University Extension. Signs you may not have enough potassium in your body include unexplained fatigue, muscle cramping, irregular heartbeat or stomach cramping. A lack of potassium in your diet does not typically cause low potassium. Low potassium is more commonly the result of a medical condition such as kidney disease or taking medications such as diuretics that can cause you to lose too much potassium, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

 

About the Author

Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.

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