Significance of potassium and how important it is ?

SIGNIFICANCE OF POTASSIUM

Andrea Fernandes

 


Potassium is a vital nutrient. Potassium is one of the chief blood minerals or electrolytes, that is essential to both cellular and electrical functions in the body. It is the most abundant cation in the intracellular fluid, where it plays an important role in maintaining the function of the cell, mainly in excitable cells such as nerves and muscles.

In addition, to helping in maintaining a proper fluid balance in the body, potassium also performs the following functions: It keeps the blood from clotting, maintains the pH balance of the body,  carries nutrients to the different cells in the body, protects the stomach lining from damage that can be caused by stomach acids, maintains a healthy blood pressure, promotes the health of the heart and also preserves bone health.

Athletes should be particularly apprehensive regarding their potassium intake; potassium is involved in the storage of carbohydrates to fuel the muscles. Specifically, potassium works in the body to regulate the muscles and nerves. The frequency and the degree to which muscles contract is heavily dependent on the right amount of potassium in the body. When the diet is deficient of potassium, or when the potassium movement through the body is blocked, the nervous and muscular systems may get compromised. A sufficient amount of potassium is essential for keeping the muscular system running smoothly, so it is imperative to get enough! ICMR recommends 3750 mg/d for adult sedentary male and 3225 mg/d of Potassium for an adult sedentary woman.

However, because potassium is lost through sweat and urination, it is essential to consume potassium-rich foods daily, especially in case of an athlete. Low potassium levels can reduce energy and endurance.

Increasing the level of potassium in the diet has a potential benefit for lowering the risk of hypertension, which is the major risk factor for the development of stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and also end-stage renal disease. In addition, adequate intake of potassium may be extremely influential in controlling the level of glucose and thus limiting the risk of diabetes, especially in those on thiazide diuretic treatment, and also those that are already at higher risks from the development of added co-morbidities.

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