potassium As a positively charged ion (cation), it is one of the essential minerals and is essential for cell and nerve function.
A blood test of the potassium levels is used by the doctor to further diagnose various diseases.
potassium Together with sodium as an antagonist, it is one of the most important electrolytes in the human body, which are essential for maintaining the so-called osmotic pressure in the cells.
Thus, as an electrolyte, potassium also regulates the water balance. Potassium occurs almost exclusively within the cells. As with sodium, the concentration gradient between the inside and outside of the cell is maintained on the cell wall with the help of a so-called ion pump (here sodium-potassium pump).
This creates an electrical voltage, which is a prerequisite for the transmission of information between the cells. This is why potassium, together with sodium and calcium, plays an essential role in the excitability of nerve and muscle cells, for example those of the heart. An adult body contains around 170 grams of potassium.
Adults need about 2g potassium Every day. Since the mineral is found in many foods, a balanced diet usually covers the need. The body itself keeps the potassium levels within narrow limits, as increasing or decreasing potassium levels can quickly lead to impulse disturbances in the muscles and nerves, which can then no longer contract properly.
The hormone aldosterone is responsible for regulating the potassium level. If the potassium level rises, the body releases more of this hormone, as it stimulates the kidneys to excrete more potassium.
However, potassium is not only important for muscle and nerve functions, it also regulates the fluid balance within the cells. In addition, it plays a role in the production of various proteins, regulates blood pressure and heartbeat and is involved in carbohydrate metabolism and thus in energy production.
A potassium deficiency is usually caused by an increased loss of fluids. Since the potassium value is strongly linked to the sodium value, an increased intake of sodium automatically leads to a higher excretion of potassium. A high-salt diet can therefore lead to a lack of potassium. Certain medications such as laxatives and diuretics can also lead to a deficiency. Vomiting and diarrhea, alcoholism, eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia, certain intestinal diseases and decreased fluid intake also often lead to a deficiency symptom.
Symptoms for this are usually tiredness, reduced performance, cramps, muscle pain, circulatory problems and cardiac arrhythmias. A potassium deficiency can easily be counteracted by changing your diet.
Athletes in particular should make sure they get enough intake, as they lose more potassium through sweating. Endurance athletes or athletes with intensive training are particularly affected here. A deficiency can lead to serious performance losses and muscle complaints.
However, the effects of an excess of potassium are more extreme, as it can quickly lead to life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias with ventricular fibrillation and even death. In bodybuilding in particular, the use of appropriate preparations, which are supposed to provide drainage before a competition, has already led to some deaths.
Food with a high percentage of potassium are above all plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, grains and nuts. There is a lot of potassium in wheat germ, avocados and bananas in particular. When preparing vegetables, make sure that potassium is transferred to the water through boiling. If this is no longer used, the potassium is also lost.