Potassium is an essential mineral required by our body to ensure proper functioning of all our cells, organs (particularly important to proper heart function) and tissues in our body.
It is of great importance that normal levels are maintained at all times. A level which is too low or too high will result in a shutdown of the nervous system and heart. If optimal amounts are not supplied to our body, then our health will pay the price. It is found in nearly every food in varying amounts. Potassium is (along with chloride, sodium and magnesium) an electrolyte. An electrolyte is an element which helps to conduct electrical charges in our body. It also plays a vital role in allowing skeletal & smooth muscles to contract. If you don’t have enough potassium in your blood it leads to a condition called Hypokalemia (low potassium). Symptoms of this are weakness, a lack of energy, stomach disturbances, muscle cramps and an irregular heartbeat (an abnormal electrocardiogram may also be evident). It is important to get Hypokalemia treated by your doctor as the condition can be life threatening.
98 percent of the bodies Potassium is in the interior of our cells, and only 2 percent is in the space outside of our cells. Women have a total of about 100 grams of potassium, men about 150 grams. The concentration in the blood plasma is about 3.5 to 5 mmol/L and within the cells of about 140 mmol/L.
Potassium for Bone Health
Potassium has a direct impact on the health of our bones. Bone depleting metabolic acids will be neutralised by potassium salts. These acids will literally eat away at your bones if no neutralised by these potassium compounds. Also aided by magnesium compounds. By allowing potassium to do the role of neautralising metabolic acids, precious calcium can be conserved.
Potassium for Maintaining Normal Blood Pressure
Potassium plays a vital role in helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure level. Some of the mechanisms which contribute to this beneficial effect are an improved kidney function, blood clotting reduction, and an improvement in the opening of our blood vessels.
Potassium for Kidney Health
By maintaining a healthy blood pressure you will be helping to maintain strong, healthy kidneys. As mentioned above, potassium is one mineral that contributes towards this goal. Furthermore, potassium has been linked with a reduced risk of getting kidney stones. Potassium salts have the ability to neutralise acidity present in our bloodstreams. If our bloodstream has excess acid, then calcium will be leeched from our bones in an attempt to buffer the acid. This has the effect of reducing urine calcium, which prevents it from depositing in the form of a kidney stone.
The Sodium-Potassium Pump
The sodium-potassium pump is the mechanism which allows high concentrations of potassium ions and low concentrations of sodium ions to move in opposing directions across the plasma membrane.