Potassium: Why Is It Important?

Potassium (or K as it is identified in the periodic table of elements) is a silvery-white, highly reactive alkali metal. It ranks as the seventh most available metal in the world. It is an essential mineral for plants and animals to take in potassium in order to survive. This involves eating potassium rich foods like bananas. This will improve the body’s overall health and one need not worry about weight issues as, for example, the calories in a banana are relatively few.

However, an overabundance of potassium in the body can also lead to complications so it is important to keep potassium levels balanced. A condition called hyperkalemia may result if there is too much potassium in the body and hypokalemia when the opposite happens. This should be avoided at all costs because potassium is also used for regulating the body’s water levels and for protein metabolism, among other things. Most importantly, potassium is used in muscle contraction, which includes the contraction of heart muscles.

Potassium also has other specific uses in the body aside from contributing to its general health. It’s vital to keep the body functioning normally. The body uses electrical signals to communicate among its nerves and cells and potassium is needed to aid in this process. Potassium in processed form is also used in medicine such as when potassium chloride is used in making supplements for the treatment of hypokalemia. It is even added to diuretic medicines as the intake of diuretics can cause the body’s potassium stores to be depleted.