Potassium is one of the most common elements in the body and an important dietary mineral. It is the 8th major element that is present in our body by weight. A fully grown adult at any point of time will have around 120 grams of potassium in the body. the eighth or ninth most common element by mass (0.2%) in the human body, so that a 60 kg adult contains a total of about 120 grams of potassium.
Potassium cations (positively charged ions are called as cations) are important in proper neuron functioning (brain and nerve). The other major function of Potassium is controlling the osmotic balance between cells and the interstitial fluid.
Potassium – Sources
Potassium is rich in parsley, dried apricots, milk, nuts (especially almonds and pistachios), potatoes (Especially in the skin and the outer layer of the potato), bananas, avocados, soybeans, and bran, it is also present in good quantities in fruits.
Biological Functions of Potassium
Potassium is required by the body on an every day basis to maintain good nerve health and osmotic balance. The important biological functions of potassium are:[checklist]
- Potassium helps in preventing muscle contraction and muscular cramps
- Helps in proper muscle function and good reflexes
- Maintains proper cellular function[/checklist]
Potassium – Deficiency
Insufficient potassium intake can lead to potassium deficiency which is characterized by the symptoms such as high blood pressure and problems in nerve function. Potassium deficiency also causes hypokalemia, which results in vomiting, diarrhea, and increased diuresis. The other deficiency symptoms include muscular weakness and decreased reflexes and some times cardiac arrhythmia. However this deficiency is rare among healthy individuals.
Potassium – Requirements and supplements
On an average for a normal individual the daily requirement of Potassium is 4,000 mg/day. Sufficient amount of potassium in the diet can considerably reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. However individuals suffering from kidney diseases might aggravate their condition by consuming more potassium. Another risk of overdosage is fatal cardiac arrhythmia.
We always recommend natural sources of nutrients. Read more about the risks involved using nutrient supplement before opting for supplements.