What is potassium?
Potassium is discovered by Sir Humphry Davy in 1807 when he isolated it for the first time through a process called electrolysis.
Its chemical symbol, K, came from its German name “Kalium”.
It is silvery white in color, a soft solid, and can be cut with a knife.
It is insoluble in water because its density is less than the density of water.
The Dead Sea is where potassium is found to be most abundant.
It has many industrial uses such as in making soap, glass, gunpowder, fertilizers, medicinal supplements, and detergents.
Potassium is an essential mineral needed by the body.
It belongs to the electrolyte family alongside sodium and chloride.
These electrolytes conduct electricity which works inside and outside the body cells.
It is a very important mineral because the normal body function usually depends on the tight regulation of its concentrations.
Health Benefits of Potassium – Things You Should Know
These days it seems like every time you turn on the news or pick up a newspaper, you’re bombarded with news that foods we once thought to be good for us can now cause health risks.
Substances once thought to put you at higher risk can now improve your health….
If you’re wondering how you can achieve better health through more natural means, you’re probably interested in learning more about the health benefits of potassium and other nutrients that can be infused into your system through a healthier diet.
Potassium is a naturally occurring substance that can greatly improve you overall well being.
In case you’ve never heard of potassium health benefits or been educated about the way that nutrient rich foods can be used to fight off illness and help you recover from injury, you should take a moment to become more familiar with this common substance.
Potassium is the third most common mineral in the human body and has been shown to be one of the most essential substances for maintaining good physical and mental health.
No matter whether you’re struggling with bad eating habits, or you’re trying to improve your marathon time, you should know that more potassium in your diet can help you achieve your goals.
One of the key functions of health potassium is to act as an electrolyte.
You’ve probably heard that electrolytes are lost in your sweat when you’re exercising at a particularly vigorous level.
However, potassium is lost every time you go to the bathroom as well, and if you’re drinking a lot of water, juice, coffee, or beer and using the bathroom on a very frequent basis, you’re probably flushing all of these necessary electrolytes and potassium out of your body.
On this same note, consuming enough potassium can also prevent you from forming kidney stones.
If you’re eager to start taking advantage of potassium, you should know that there are many naturally occurring foods that can increase your daily intake of this essential mineral.
Bananas, Pecans, Potatoes, Spinach, Almonds, Prunes, Sunflower Seeds, Yams, Red Snapper, and Acorn Squash all contain significant levels of potassium.
Adding these foods to your weekly diet can help you to achieve all the health benefits that potassium can provide.
When your potassium levels are depleted, symptoms can include: excessive sweating, irritability, fatigue, muscle weakness, vomiting, dehydration, and a fast heart beat.
If you are interested in taking a potassium supplement, you should talk with your doctor first.
To know more about the benefits of potassium browse through this article.
Potassium Food Sources :
What can potassium-rich foods do to our body?
Potassium together with sodium and chloride comprise the electrolyte family of minerals.
They are so-called electrolytes because once they are dissolved in water they conduct electricity which is important in regulating the activity of the muscles and nerves.
Foods rich in potassium can help your muscles and nerves function properly, help guard against bone loss, maintain the proper electrolyte and water balance in your body, help lower your blood pressure, and reduce the risks of having kidney stones.
Potassium is a chemical element which is considered as an essential nutrient once introduced to the body in the proper levels.
It is said that this nutrient is responsible to maintain the balance of electrolyte sin the body.
There are several adverse effects one may experience due to its deficiencies.
They may be increased fatigue, hypertension and dehydration.
On the hand, over levels of potassium in the body is also detrimental.
Though such over-dosage won’t happen by just consuming potassium-rich natural foods, other sources such as potassium salts and supplements would be able to cause over-dosage.
Of course, it is accompanied by vomiting, headache and even cardiac failure.
The daily amount of potassium recommended for the body is 3.50 grams.
What are those foods rich in potassium?
High Potassium Food:
1. Dried spices and herbs
Aside from being used for healing purposes, some herbs are rich in potassium.
Such herb is Chervil. Dried Chervil has the highest concentration of potassium with 4.7 grams per 100 grams of serving.
2. Red Chili Powder and Paprika
These spices add flavor to every dish and we may not know that they are excellent sources of potassium as well.
When combined with other vegetables and fruits as in a salad or guacamole, a serving of 100 grams will give you 0.485 grams of potassium.
4. Chocolate and Cocoa
Aside from potassium, dark chocolate is one of the most excellent sources of zinc and iron.
Basically, dark chocolates and unsweetened cocoa powder provide the highest amounts of potassium.
5. Nuts and Pistachios
Aside from being a hearty snack, pistachios also add flavor and twist to salads.
Who knew that they can provide 1 gram of potassium per 100 grams of serving.
Daily Requirement of Potassium
For the first time, an intake value of potassium has been recommended by the Institute of Medicine.
Since potassium helps in regulating blood pressure, improving muscle control and stimulating nerve responses, meeting the daily requirement is definitely helpful for everyone.
Of course, potassium daily requirement differs in each age bracket.
Between ages 1 – 3
Each day, children under this age bracket should take in approximately 3 grams or 3000 milligrams of potassium.
Since foods rich in potassium are easily accessible, maintaining a good level of potassium is easily achieved.
These foods include milk, yogurt and banana.
Between ages 4 – 8
Since are body is continuously growing, the potassium requirement is too.
From 3000 milligrams of potassium a day, the daily requirement becomes 3800 milligrams.
Again, children under this age bracket are fond of eating fruits like raisins, oranges, bananas and apples.
Finding excellent sources of potassium is not a problem.
Between ages 9 – 13
Approaching puberty, children within this age group should get around 4500 milligrams of potassium daily.
For ages 14 and above
Teens and adults should be able to consume 4800 milligrams of potassium daily.
Since the people in this age group are more indulgent to eat nutritious foods, it becomes very easy to integrate potassium in their regular diet schemes.
Some fun snacks include tomato juice, baked potatoes and nuts.
If you feel the symptoms of having an inappropriate potassium level in your body, it is always best to consult with your physician.
Potassium in Water: Its Reactions and Environmental Impact
How much potassium is present in water?
Though Potassium is found to react wildly in water, it sometimes ends up in seawater through natural processes and mainly settles in the sediments.
But before dissolving in water, potassium from dead plants and animals first bound to clay materials in soils.
Seawater contains about 400 ppm potassium.
Rivers generally contains 2 to 3 ppm potassium.
The variation is mainly caused by the large potassium concentration in oceanic basalts.
Calcium-rich granite contains up to 2.5% potassium.
Its concentration in seawater is 0.38 g/L.
Potassium content in rainwater may be mainly affected by both sea salt aerosols and soil dust.
Its concentrations in rainwater are low in general, with a yearly average of 0.1 mg/L only.
For drinking water, the average potassium concentrations generally range from 1.0 to 8.0 mg/L.
How does potassium react in water?
Through studies, they have found out that potassium reacts violently in water.
Its reaction is established as dangerous because of its violent and sufficient exothermic character and release of hydrogen gas.
It reacts very rapidly with water to form a colorless solution of potassium hydroxide (KOH) and hydrogen gas (H2).
Near the beginning of the reaction, the potassium metal turns out to be so hot that it catches fire and burns.
It is a very strong reducing agent and has a very violent reaction when put in water.
Though Potassium in water is proved to be dangerous and violent, we cannot deny the fact that we need it in our daily lives.
Uses of Potassium In Our Lives
As the seventh most abundant element in the earth’s crust, potassium definitely has a myriad of uses be they in health, agriculture and industry.
Listed below are the significant uses of potassium.
In Bodily Health
Potassium is a very significant nutrient in the body since it plays an important role in maintaining acidity levels and helps control our blood pressure.
Since it is an electrolyte, right level of potassium in the body is necessary for proper transmission of electric signals from the nerves to the cells and the other way around.
It is also necessary for hydration, muscle development and protein processing.
Deficiency of this mineral will give you hypokalemia, leg cramps, increased fatigue and physical weakness, paralysis of muscles and others.
Over-dosage will also entail problems like hyperkalemia.
In other words, right concentration of potassium is always best for the body.
Even for plants, potassium is also an essential of their overall well-being.
Potassium helps control the functions of stomata in plant cells.
It helps the stomata to regulate water within the plant so that water losses will be avoided.
Since hydration is one of the main help that potassium offers for plants, deficiency of this mineral will make those plants more vulnerable to diseases and drying.
So then, if the soil in which the plant grows is not rich in potassium, fertilizers are used to fill in the gap in the form of potassium nitrate.
In the Industry
Since potassium is a very reactive metal, its forms and uses are usually found in combination to other materials in nature.
1. Potassium Hydroxide
One of the most commonly used strong base.
This is used for neutralizing acids to control pH.
Another use is for saponification or soap-making process.
This is an alloy from potassium with sodium which is liquid at ambient conditions.
This is used to desiccate some solvents.
3. Potassium cyanide
This is used in gold mining since it can dissolve gold and silver.
This is usually termed as potash.
Acesulfame Potassium – Use with Caution
The more nutritionists learn about the secret power of many common fruits and vegetables, it becomes obvious that an individual’s diet is the best way to prevent disease and recover when suffering from an illness or injury.
You’ve probably heard of potassium, the third most common mineral in the human body, and available in abundance in bananas in addition to many other fruits and vegetables.
When you hear the term acesulfame potassium, you might assume that it is simply another form of this natural and beneficial mineral, but you might want to think again before consuming it.
In case you’ve never heard of acesulfame potassium before, you should know that it is a not a naturally occurring mineral, but rather an artificial sweetener that was created by a chemist named Karl Clauss in the late 1960s.
At the time, Clauss was working for a chemical company that would later become known as Nutrinova.
Currently this artificial sweetener is used in many food and beverage products around the world.
It has been approved for human consumption by the United States Food and Drug Administration, and food safety organizations in the European Union.
Although you might assume that because acesulfame potassium has been approved for use in so many food and beverage products that it is completely safe for you and your family to eat, it’s important to realize that these approvals might not be taken all the available scientific information into account.
This artificial sweetener is very popular because if provides a level of sweetness that is far above natural sugars and sweeteners, but is very low on calories.
You’ll often find it as the main sweetener is products that claim to be “light” or “diet.”
This might seem like you can still enjoy as many sweets as you want without having to worry about weight gain, but it’s important to remember there could be other consequences of consuming this substance.
One of the main health concerns associated with acesulfame potassium is that it is similar to known carcinogens, and could be responsible for causing cancer in some individuals.
Although a lot of this criticism comes from people and advocacy groups that are interested in promoting only natural foods, you should also know that The Center for Science in the Public Interest has encouraged the U.S. government to repeal its approval of the substance since 1988.
Another concern about this substance is that it could aggravate hypoglycemia, or increase low blood sugar attacks.