Potassium is a mineral that your body needs to work properly. It is a type of electrolyte. The health benefits of potassium include relief from stroke, blood pressure, heart and kidney disorders, anxiety and stress, as well as enhanced muscle strength, metabolism, water balance, electrolytic functions, and nervous system. Apart from acting as an electrolyte, this mineral is required for keeping the heart, brain, kidney, muscle tissue and other important organ systems of the human body in good condition. Recommended dietary allowance guidelines vary depending on age. Infants from 0 to 6 months old should receive 400 milligrams daily, and those from 7 to 12 months old need 700 milligrams. The RDA for children from 1 to 3 years old is 3,000 milligrams each day, those from 4 to 8 years old warrant 3,800 milligrams and those from 9 to 13 years old need 4,500 milligrams. Children older than 13 and adults should get 4,700 milligrams per day, except for lactating women, who require 5,100 milligrams. Deficiency of any nutrient in the body is undesirable and potassium is not an exception. A diet deficient in it may lead to symptoms like fatigue and muscle weakness. Other indications for its deficiency include inactive reflexes, abnormal heartbeat, heart palpitations, anemia and severe headaches. Potassium-deficient people may also experience high blood pressure, pain in their intestines, swelling in their glands and diabetes as serious side effects of this deficiency. Although uncommon, potassium levels can exceed normal limits in the body, leading to hyperkalemia. Symptoms of hyperkalemia include decreased blood pressure, stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, irritability and fatigue. An irregular heartbeat can occur when the muscles and nerves begin to malfunction. Some people report a tingling sensation in the hands, feet and tongue. In severe cases, hyperkalemia may cause respiratory failure or flaccid paralysis in the arms and legs. If not treated soon, hyperkalemia can have long-term effects on blood pressure, heart rhythm, digestion and kidney function.