Potassium

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General Description:

  • K is the main cation inside the cells with a host of important functions

Actions:

  • K interacts with Na and Cl in the conduction of nerve impulses
  • mankind evolved on a high K, low Na diet as most foods naturally occur this way (even those that naturally taste salty are higher in K than Na)
  • food processing today reverses this healthy K:Na ratio and produces foods which are unhealthy
  • beneficial effect on blood pressure and is therefore expected to interact somehow with sodium, the mineral best known for its effect on blood pressure
  • with sodium (Na) outside the cells and potassium (K) inside the cells, the two work together to maintain the body’s water balance
  • K allows for the normal functioning of the nerves and muscles, particularly the heart
  • K also assists in the body processes that synthesize proteins and store carbohydrates

Deficiency:

  • average American intake of K is only 2500 mg.
  • RDA is 3500 mg
  • deficiency is rarely seen but most often happens in those with chronic diarrhea or vomiting, alcoholism, and anorexia nervosa
  • diabetics that progress to the state of ketoacidosis and those with hyperaldosteronism are also at risk of K deficiency
  • excessive loss of K occurs in the sweat of those with cystic fibrosis
  • impaired kidney function as well as the use of diuretics can predispose one to K deficiency
  • a desirable diet should contain Na and K in equal amounts
  • K weighs 1.7 times that of Na (so in weight you would need twice as much K as Na)
  • naturally occurring foods normally have this K:Na ratio needed for good health, however, processing reverses this healthful ratio
  • symptoms of K deficiency include:
  • average K intake in America is estimated at 2800 mg. for men and 2300 mg. for women while the Na intake is estimated at a whopping 4000-6000 mg. (2-3 times the K intake)

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • infants and children should never be given large amounts of potassium chloride

Sources:

  • plant sources are the richest in this mineral

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