What is Potassium Good for in the Body?
Potassium is an essential nutrient required in amounts adequate to sustain proper functioning of each individual cell. It is a quantity mineral that must be obtained from the diet in relatively larger amounts as opposed to trace minerals. It serves as a major electrolyte inside the human body, and its physiological roles are important to the production and utilization of energy at the cellular level. Deficiency is often characterized by a feeling of malaise.
Dietary minerals are chemical elements known for their nutritional value. Potassium is one of the quantity minerals in that it belongs to the group of elements that are very pervasive in almost all living organisms at a microscopic scale. A balanced diet that comprises vegetables and fruits is a good source of potassium whereas foods that contain high amounts of sodium deplete potassium levels.
Reduces Bone Turnover
The skeletal system is subject to constant metabolic activity throughout life. As the primary reserves of minerals, especially calcium, the human body remodels bones in order to meet the mineral needs of other body organs. At the same time, the body must be able to keep a healthy bone density.
Bone resorption is the process by which the body redistributes the mineral content of bones. Regular intake of potassium is necessary to keep bone resorption to a minimum. For that reason, this dietary element is often added to supplements commercially touted to increase bone mass.
Aids Nutrient Absorption
Malabsorption of nutrients has long been associated with low levels of potassium. As a quantity mineral, potassium facilitates better digestion and promotes effective absorption of compounds that display bioactive properties, such as carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, purines, and vitamins.
Medical professionals also recommend supplementation of potassium to help reverse malnutrition. In several cases of inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s diseases, in which nutrient absorption is impaired, doctors generally prescribe potassium supplements.
Promotes Circulatory Health
Excessive loss of potassium ultimately leads to metabolic disturbances, muscular paralysis, and cardiac arrhythmias. It has also been noted that the absence of potassium in the human diet for long periods of time results in progressive cardiovascular problems, notably high blood pressure.
Healthy concentrations of elemental potassium supplies tissues with solutions that contain electrically conductive potassium ions. These ions are necessary to maintain cell membrane potential, which in turn influences muscle contraction, heart function, and circulatory health.
Modulates Energy Production
Metabolism of bioactive compounds such as glucose largely depends on chemical reactions implicated in the larger process of cellular respiration. This process creates several compounds that are active at the cellular level and also yield chemical energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate.
It is not surprising that weakness often accompanies medical conditions tied to low levels of potassium. Exercise and inactivity both requires healthy levels of potassium as the presence of potassium ions in cell membranes translates into efficient energy expenditure.
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