Potassium is a vital element in the human body. Potassium had never been distinguished between sodium until the eighteenth century. Before potassium was recognized as an element, potassium carbonate was mixed with animal fat to make soap.
It was discovered by Sir Humphrey Davy in England, in 1807. Sir Davy was able to isolate potassium using electrolysis. Potassium was the first metal isolated by this procedure. Today, it is still not found free in nature. It is obtained by electrolysis of chloride or hydroxide.
Potassium is a solid silvery white element. It is soft and can be cut with a knife. Potassium is the least dense known metal, besides lithium. It is the seventh most abundant element. It makes up about 1.5% by weight of the earth\'s crust. It decomposes in water because of the hydrogen. It usually catches fire during reaction with water.
Potassium is an essential component for plant growth. Potassium is absorbed by plants in larger amounts than most other mineral elements. Potassium is supplied to plants by soil minerals, organic materials, and inorganic fertilizer. Potassium is not found in organic combination with plant tissues. Potassium plays an essential role in the metabolic processes of plants. Potassium also is essential in carbohydrate metabolism, a process by which energy is obtained from sugar.
Potassium is one of the most important elements in human diet. To begin with, potassium works with sodium for various reasons. For example, it helps to regulate body waste, control heart rhythms, and assist in reducing high blood pressure. It also aids in clear thinking by sending oxygen to the brain. This element is crucial to the maintenance of the nervous system and the muscular system. Potassium is an electrolyte, and therefor regulates the balance of fluids inside and outside the cells, including blood.
The human body needs potassium to function. The body may become short of potassium in many situations. Excessive physical activity, severe cases of stress, drinking of alcohol or coffee all consume the potassium in the body leaving the person with a deficiency of the mineral. As a result of this deficiency severe fatigues, muscle weakness, nervous disorders, cardiac arrest, and poor reflexes can occur. Too much potassium in the body may result in dehydration. The kidneys can retain or get rid of too much potassium. Either extreme is dangerous for the body.
If potassium is such a vital nutrient to the human body it has to be a mineral that can be found in a regular diet. Large servings of low potassium foods may provide more potassium than you need. Small servings of high potassium filled foods may not be enough for your body. On a daily basis the body should take in 3,500 mg of potassium. You can find a good source of potassium in everyday foods. Low potassium foods include apple sauce, cranberries, grape juice, lemon, and pears. Potassium is also found in apple juice, apricot ,cherries, pineapple, plums, strawberries and tangerines. Interestingly enough on an article on the internet one woman asked what the best source of natural potassium was. The typical response to this question would be bananas, but in doing some research they found that a single potato contains 800 mg. This is 350 than any banana.
Potassium is extremely important to life in general. It helps the plants to grow, and without these plants we cannot breathe. It regulates so much in our bodies and maintains our systems. It is crucial to have potassium in the body but all within its limits. Potassium must be regulated, too much or too little could be hazardous to your health. A little side note, I have been told that potassium help ease period cramps. Potassium helps ease any type of cramps.




Encarta 98


World Book Encyclopedia

Category: Science