Potassium

Sources
About 98 percent of potassium is found in body cells and four fifths of this in skeletal muscles. The rest occurs in extracellular fluids. Potassium absorption from foods is passive requiring no assistance or special mechanisms. It is daily excreted to maintain a balance. The metal activates a number of enzymes, assists the synthesis of proteins, helps to preserve the acid/alkali balance of the body, nerve impulse transmission, stimulates the muscles including the heart, and movements of the intestinal tract. Potassium is widely available in foods, such as almonds, apricots, asparagus, avocados, bananas, beans, beef, beet greens, bran, brazil nuts, brewer's yeast, chocolate and cocoa, cowpeas, cress, garlic, blackstrap molasses, peas, potatoes, walnuts, etc.

Uses

  • Assists heart function
  • Controls body's water balance
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Maintains a healthy nervous system
  • Regulates nutrient transfer to body cells

Interactions
Potassium may be depleted from body cells by hydrogen ions, and acidosis may deplete cellular potassium. Excess sodium and manganese may also upset the potassium balance.

Safety
Rapid intravenous infusion of potassium may cause a cardiac arrest. Excessive potassium may also accumulate as a result of burns, injuries, severe infection, adrenal insufficiency, and kidney failure. The result is weakness, paralysis, impaired electrical stimulation of the heart, eventual ventricular fibrillation and death.