Magnesium and potassium are two mineral salts necessary for the well-being and health of our body.
These are two electrolytes that regulate neuromuscular function and cellular osmotic balance. Furthermore, they are important enzymatic cofactors, i.e. they favor the action of some enzymes in our body.
Magnesium and potassium are also among the most abundant minerals in human cells and are often associated with each other. For example, magnesium activates the passage of potassium into and out of cells.
A magnesium deficiency, therefore, can lead to a greater loss of potassium. This is one reason why magnesium and potassium are often found together in dietary supplement formulations.
Then discover the functions of the association of magnesium and potassium and the health benefits.
Magnesium and potassium: what they are and why know them
They are two mineral salts that act in synergy in our body, which is why they are often combined in the different formulations of supplements available on the market. But what are they for and what functions do they perform?
Magnesium is perhaps one of the best known micronutrients also because it is often taken in the form of a supplement for different situations.
It is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Mg and the atomic number 12 and has great bio-physiological significance. In fact, it is an essential component for many biochemical reactions within the organism and plays a fundamental role in protein synthesis, in the transmission of nerve impulses, in muscle contraction and in the stabilization of cell membranes.
Furthermore, it is a molecule necessary for the correct functioning of enzymes. The latter are molecular activators, i.e. molecules capable of activating a chemical reaction or accelerating its development.
Magnesium is also used in various health and wellness products that are often recommended to compensate for any magnesium deficiency. In particular, they may be useful for relieving muscle cramps, improving bone health, promoting sleep and reducing stress.
If you want to know more, read our in-depth study on magnesium.
Potassium, whose chemical symbol is K and the atomic number is 19, is an essential element for our body. In fact, it plays a fundamental role in maintaining water and acid-base balance, in the transmission of nerve impulses and in muscle contraction, including that of the heart. It also deals with the functioning of nerve cells and skeletal muscles.
As far as health is concerned, an adequate supply of potassium is essential for the normal functioning of all our systems.
It is therefore important to maintain an adequate balance of potassium in the body, as its excess or deficiency can have negative effects on health.
Despite its infinitesimal dimensions, potassium is included in the category of food macroelements. This is because it is an element, together with sulphur, sodium, calcium and magnesium, which is essential for our body.
Suffice it to say that it is one of the minerals most present in the cells of the human body, reaching quantities of about 180 g.
Despite this importance, our body tends to always eliminate the same amount of potassium in urine and feces, regardless of what we have introduced with the diet. For this reason, diets lacking in this element can cause a strong physiological deficiency and malnutrition.
If you want to know more, read our in-depth analysis on potassium.
What are magnesium and potassium for? All benefits
Magnesium and potassium are therefore two essential minerals for the performance of various and all important organic functions, offering various health benefits. Here are some of the benefits associated with magnesium and potassium:
Benefits of magnesium
- Bone health: Magnesium is involved in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones. It contributes to bone mineralization and can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Muscle function: It is necessary for muscle contraction and relaxation. It therefore helps keep muscles healthy, reduces muscle cramps and can aid muscle recovery after exercise.
- Nervous system: plays an essential role in the transmission of nerve impulses. Contributes to healthy functioning of the nervous system, including mood regulation and stress control. Thus, it improves irritability, sleep disturbances and mental fatigue.
- Friend of the heart: Magnesium is involved in the normal functioning of the heart muscle. It helps regulate blood pressure, promotes normal heart rate and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Sugar control: It can affect blood glucose regulation and therefore helps blood sugar control by stimulating insulin production.
Benefits of potassium
- Heart function: Potassium is essential for the normal functioning of the heart. It helps regulate heart rhythm, supports muscle contraction of the heart, and can help maintain normal blood pressure.
- Water balance: it is involved in regulating the body’s water balance. It contributes to the correct hydration of cells and the maintenance of fluid balance in the body.
- Muscle function: Plays a key role in muscle contraction. Helps maintain healthy muscles, promoting optimal muscle strength and function. It also reduces the feeling of fatigue and muscle cramps.
- Kidney health: It is also involved in kidney function. It contributes to the proper functioning of the filter activity carried out by the kidneys and can help reduce the risk of kidney stones.
- Nervous Health: Potassium is essential for the normal conduction of nerve and muscle impulses. It contributes to communication and the transmission of impulses between nerve cells. It also improves mood.
- Energy: regulates the production of energy by contributing to the proper functioning of the metabolism.
If you are interested in the topic, discover the foods richest in potassium.
Magnesium and potassium: symptoms and causes of a deficiency
Both magnesium and potassium are well represented in the diet, so the risk of excess or deficiency is quite rare.
However, in specific cases, especially if you suffer from some disease or are following drug therapy, which alter the physiological supply mechanism of these nutrients, you may experience some deficiency symptoms.
The causes can be different, including a diet low in magnesium or potassium and rich in refined and industrial foods, as well as low in fruit and vegetables.
Certain medical conditions, such as chronic bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, kidney disorders, or intestinal surgery, can also interfere with the body’s absorption of the two minerals and cause a deficiency.
The same goes for excessive alcohol consumption or prolonged use of diuretics or laxatives which can interfere with the absorption and balance of magnesium in the body.
Finally, excessive sweating. Indeed, intense physical activity, especially in very hot weather, can cause greater loss of potassium through sweat.
If you are interested in the topic, discover the foods richest in magnesium.
Magnesium deficiency symptoms
- Fatigue and muscle weakness.
- Muscle cramps and spasms.
- Tingling or numbness.
- Irregular heart rhythm.
- Loss of appetite.
- Digestive problems, such as nausea and vomiting.
- Insomnia or sleep disturbances.
- Mood changes, such as anxiety and depression.
- Headache and dizziness.
Potassium deficiency symptoms
- Fatigue and muscle weakness.
- Muscle cramps and spasms.
- Heart palpitations or irregular heart rhythms.
- Numbness or tingling.
- Nausea and vomit.
- Loss of appetite.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Increased sensitivity to sodium.
Magnesium and potassium: needs and intake
According to LARN, the recommended daily requirement of potassium for adults is 3.9 g/day per day. But these quantities vary in the case of an infant, an infant or an adolescent.
In the case of an infant, a daily intake of approximately 0.7 g/day of potassium is sufficient. This quantity rises to 1.9 g/day between the ages of 1 and 3 years and to 2.3 g/day between 4 and 6 years.
A further increase is expected in the age group between 7 and 10 years (2.8 g/day of potassium) while from 11 years onwards, the requirement settles on the values expected for an adult.
The recommended daily intake of magnesium, on the other hand, is about 5-6 mg for each kg of body weight.
However, for pregnant women this threshold rises to 10 mg and 15 mg for children. The need for magnesium is then influenced by various factors: for example the amount of calcium, protein, phosphorus and vitamin D present in the daily diet.
Foods rich in magnesium and potassium
Magnesium, being an integral part of chlorophyll, is widely found in green leafy vegetables such as: chard, chicory, spinach, radicchio, lettuce, rocket, soncino or lamb’s lettuce etc.
Legumes, dried fruit and whole grains also have excellent concentrations of magnesium, especially those that maintain the embryo or germ such as wheat, rye, oats, barley, rice, etc.
Among fruits, bananas and avocados, while for foods of animal origin, fish is an excellent source of magnesium. Finally, dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa has a good amount of magnesium.