What is potassium?
Potassium is a pure chemical element with the symbol K on the periodic table and is one of the most important essential minerals. Potassium has the atomic number 19, meaning that each atom of potassium has 19 protons and 19 neutrons in its nucleus. Potassium has only one electron in its outer valence shell, and as a result loses that electron and exists as a positively charged, unbounded ion when introduced to an aqueous (watery) environment like the body. Together with sodium, potassium helps to transmit electrical impulses along our nerves, and regulate blood pressure and the body’s water balance.1
What does potassium do in the body?
Potassium is an important ion for normal nervous system function. Potassium and sodium are actively pumped to either side of neuron cell membranes in order to create an electrochemical gradient that allows the conduction of neural impulses.
Like other electrolytes in the body, sodium and chlorine for instance, potassium regulates the body’s osmolarity, or water balance. Excess potassium is excreted by the kidneys via urine. Unlike sodium, potassium is poorly conserved by the body, resulting in a need for constant replenishment.
Potassium is also needed to build proteins in the body and to metabolize carbohydrates for energy or glycogen storage.1
What foods contain potassium?
Potassium is contained in most whole fruits, vegetables, and grains and all meats including red meat, fish, and chicken. Dairy products and nuts are also a great source of potassium.2
How much potassium do I need?
Recommended Dietary Intake for Potassium2
Check our products that contain Potassium:
1) Insel P, Turner RE, Ross D. Discovering Nutrition. 3rd ed. Jones and Bartlett, Sudbury Massachusetts. pp 412-413.