The mineral potassium occurs predominantly in the interior of body cells and is responsible for the regulation of the water balance. In addition, potassium plays a central role in the transmission of stimuli along a nerve. This important mineral is also involved in muscle activity and regulates a person's blood pressure. As a component of digestive juices, potassium plays a crucial role in the gastrointestinal tract and in energy production.
Importance of potassium for the body
Potassium has different effects in the body. Probably the most important role played by the mineral in the transmission of electrical impulses to muscle or nerve cells. The potassium level is strictly regulated by the body. If the potassium level is too high or too low, muscular dysfunction may occur.
Together with sodium, potassium is also responsible for the activity of the heart muscle. A balanced sodium and potassium balance is important. The more sodium absorbed, the more potassium the body excretes.
Another important task of potassium is to maintain the osmotic pressure in the cells and thus to regulate the fluid balance in the body.
Potassium in food
Since potassium is present in most foods, the daily requirement for potassium is usually met with a normal, balanced diet. Whole grains, potatoes, bananas, spinach, lettuce, legumes, cabbage, avocados and nuts are especially rich in potassium.
Both men and women have a daily potassium requirement of about 2,000 mg. These Daily dose of potassium is included in some foods.
These foods include:
- 150 g of wheat bran
- 150 g beans
- 300 g of spinach
- 400 g mushrooms
- 500 g of fish
- 500 g of vegetables
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Potassium Value: How Much Is Normal?
In adults, the normal potassium is in blood (more specifically in serum) 3.8 to about 5.2 mmol / L (millimoles per liter). In the urine the potassium level (measured in 24-hour urine) should be 30 to 100 mmol / 24h. Prolonged fasting may decrease the potassium level in the urine.
Potassium deficiency symptoms
Potassium is present in virtually all foods, which is why healthy people can hardly be deficient. Due to severe diarrhea, use of laxatives and water-repellent agents (diuretics) as well as excessive consumption of licorice or salt may, however potassium deficiency (Hypokalemia) arise.
The symptoms of potassium deficiency can be:
- Paralysis of the muscles
- Constipation (constipation)
- Conduction disorders in the heart
As a rule, potassium deficiency can be quickly compensated for by consuming foods containing a lot of potassium. Potassium supplements such as tablets or capsules, however, should only be taken on medical advice, otherwise it quickly becomes a dangerous Potassium excess can come. In acute cases of hypokalaemia, potassium chloride is administered intravenously.
Potassium: overdose and excess
Acidification or renal insufficiency can lead to life-threatening hyperkalemia (potassium overdose). Also, blood transfusions, burns, infections or kidney disease are often the cause of too much potassium in the body. If the potassium level is increased, there is a risk of cardiac arrhythmias, including ventricular fibrillation.
Other symptoms of potassium overdose include diarrhea, fatigue, headache, muscle weakness and cramping. Since potassium stimulates the kidneys to produce urine, an excess can lead to increased urination.
If the value of potassium is chronically increased, a low-potassium diet is used to lower the potassium level.