Why is potassium essential for human health?

Nutrition Blog

The mineral ‘potassium’ is the third-most plentiful mineral in the human body. Potassium assists the body to regulate fluid, send nerve signals to the muscles and various other parts of the body as well as to modulate muscle contractions.

Approximately 98% of the potassium in a person’s body is found in the cells. Of this percentage, 80% is to be found in the muscle cells. The remaining 20% is present in your bones, liver and red blood cells.

Once ingested, potassium performs the function of an electrolyte. (Electrolytes are chemicals that create electrically charged ions in body fluids. These ions transfer the electrical energy which is necessary for many bodily functions, which include muscle contractions and the transmission of nerve impulses. Many functions in the body depend on electrolytes. Optimal performance – in all aspects of life – requires a consistent and adequate supply of these important nutrients.)

When you put an electrolyte into water, it dissolves into positive or negative ions. These have the ability to conduct electricity. Potassium ions carry a positive charge.

Advantages of Potassium intake

Potassium Helps to Maintain Fluid Balance

Around 60% of the body is made up of water. A total of 40% of this water is to be found inside your cells. It is contained in a liquid called intracellular fluid (ICF).

The rest is to be found outside your cells. For example, in spaces such as your blood, spinal fluid and between cells. The name of this fluid is extracellular fluid (ECF).

The volume of water in the ICF and ECF is affected by the concentration of electrolytes to be found here. In particular, these electrolytes are potassium and sodium.

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Potassium is the primary electrolyte in the ICF. As such, it determines the quantity of water in the cells. On the other hand, sodium is the main electrolyte in the ECF. It is responsible for determining the amount of water that is outside the cells.

The quantity of electrolytes relative to the volume of fluid is referred to as osmolality. Under usual conditions, the osmolality is the same inside and outside the cells of the body. In other words, in a normal situation there’s an equal balance of electrolytes between the outside and inside of your cells.

However, when osmolality is not equal water from the side with fewer electrolytes will move into the side with more electrolytes. This will happen in order to equalise the concentration of electrolytes. This shifting may cause cells to shrink as water moves out of them. Alternatively they may swell up or swell up and burst as water moves into them. That’s why it’s vital to make sure you consume the right amounts of electrolytes – this includes potassium.

Regulating fluid balance is essential for optimal health

Poor fluid balance can lead to dehydration. This, in turn, could affect the heart and kidneys, Consuming a potassium-rich diet, in addition to staying hydrated, can help maintain proper fluid balance.

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