Potassium – What is the importance of this mineral

I have talked about salt in my previous blog and now I would like to talk about potassium as it is an essential mineral that works very close to sodium in the body as well as other minerals. Around 270 mg of potassium that we ingest is found inside the cell. This is an intracellular mineral, while sodium is extracellular mineral mainly. Potassium affects the contractility of the smooth, skeletal and cardiac muscles and deeply influences the excitability of nerve tissues. Potassium also deals with the maintains of electrolytes and pH balance.

The balance between sodium (NA) and potassium (K+) occurs though the kidneys. Usually a hormone called aldosterone is released from the adrenals to reabsorb sodium and eliminate potassium.

Hyperkalemia, which is abnormally high serum potassium is toxic to the body, it can result I sever cardiac arrhythmias and even cardiac arrest. It is very hard to produce hyperkalemia by dietary means in an individual with normal circulation and renal function. This is because the body control system keeps it in a very narrow concentration range. Hypokalemia causes muscular weakness, nervous irritability, mental disorientation, which can result from profound alimentary fluid loss such as sweating or severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

Contrary to sodium, potassium keeps the calcium in the body instead of eliminate it from the body, which is a good thing. Too much sodium in your diet means that you might get osteoporosis eventually, as well as all the other problems that comes with high salt and sugar diet.

Low potassium is very rarely seen as potassium is found in many foods. It is found high in fruits, especially bananas, blueberry, and any other berry, many vegetables such as potatoes, spinach, dark leafy vegetables, and fresh meats. Many salt substitutes contain high potassium.

It is best to ingest potassium through fresh food choices such as fruits and vegetables which also might help with people with hypertension (high blood pressure). Usually potassium is checked to make sure that the individual renal function is fine and to monitor also the electrolytes.

Reference:

Groff J. L. & Gropper S. S. (3rd ed) 1999. “Advanced Nutrition and human Metabolism”. Wadsmorth UK.

© copyrights Maria Esposito BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapist – NAET – R-Craniosacral Therapist

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