Potassium is a mineral that is beneficial for blood pressure; it maintains a normal blood pressure. Furthermore, potassium is important for the nervous system, muscle contraction and energy management in the muscles.
Potassium is found in almost any food. It is mainly found in fruits and vegetables, potatoes and meat, but also in bread, milk and nuts.
- Along with chlorine and sodium, involved in controlling fluid balance and blood pressure in the body. Potassium has a beneficial effect on blood pressure, because it counteracts the hypertensive effect of sodium.
- Good for the nervous system.
- Good for muscles.
- Important for the growth of the body.
Since potassium is found in many foods, it's unlikely that a shortage occurs because of inadequate dietary intake. A shortage may be caused as a result of an increased loss of potassium due to prolonged persistent diarrhea or vomiting. A potassium shortage may also result from using laxatives or diuretics.
Symptoms of potassium shortage include muscle weakness and impaired cardiac function. Psychological disorders, such as depression and confusion, may also be a consequence of a lack of potassium.
Too much intake of potassium via food and drinks is virtually impossible. The kidneys keep the amount of potassium in the body constant. A surplus of potassium can occur when the kidneys are not functioning optimally. Also in case of using certain drugs for blood pressure, the potassium level in the blood may be too high. An excessive potassium content in the body can at worst lead to cardiac arrest.
- Most of the potassium is located in the cells of the body. Approximately 2% is present in body fluids, including blood.
- In old days, the diet of people was high in potassium and low in sodium. Nowadays, sodium intake is much higher than potassium intake. This facilitates high blood pressure.
- When potatoes and vegetables are cooked with plenty of water, potassium is lost.
- Potassium was discovered in 1807 by the British chemist Humphry Davy.
- The term ‘potassium’ is derived from the Latin word potassa (potash). Davy first isolated it from potash. The symbol K is from the Latin word kalium, which in turn is derived from the Arabic word al qalī (the potash from seaweed, the roasted).
- In the periodic table of elements, potassium has the symbol K (kalium) and atomic number 19. The color is silvery gray.