Potassium is essential to the life of every cell of a living being and is among the most generously and widely distributed of all the tissue minerals. It is found principally in the intra-cellular fluid where it plays an important role as a catalyst in energy metabolism and in the synthesis of glycogen and protein.
The average adult human body contains 120 gram as potassium and 245 gram as potassium chloride. Out of this body potassium, 11 7 gram is found in the cells and 3 gram in the extracellular compartment.
Potassium is important as an alkalizing agent in keeping a proper acid- alkaline balance in the blood and tissues. It is essential for muscle contraction and therefore important for proper heart function.
It promotes the secretion of hormones and helps the kidneys in detoxification of blood.
Potassium prevents female disorders by stimulating the endocrine hormone production. It is involved in the proper functioning of the nervous system and helps overcome fatigue.
It also aids in clear thinking by sending oxygen to the brain and assists in reducing blood pressure.
Potassium is widely distributed in foods. All vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, grapes, oranges and lemons, raisins, whole grains, sunflower seeds, milk, nuts, cottage cheese and buttermilk are rich sources. Potatoes, specially potato peelings and bananas are especially good sources potassium.
Potassium requirements have not been established but an intake of 0.8 to 1.3 gram per day is estimated as approximately the minimum need.
Potassium deficiency occur during gastrointestinal disturbances with severe vomiting and diarrhoea, diabetic acidosis and potassium- losing nephritis. It causes undue nervous and body tiredness, palpitation of the heart, cloudiness of the mind, nervous shaking of the hands and feets, great sensitivity of the nerves to cold and excessive perspiration of the feet and hands.
In simple case of potassium deficiency, drinking plenty of tender coconut water daily, can make up for it. It is advisable to consume plenty of figs, apricots, prunes, almonds and tomatoes during the use of oral diuretics. Potassium-rich foods should be restricted during acute renal failure and Addison’s disease.