Dr Wallach COLLOIDAL MINERALS
Dr Wallach What is the use and function of POTASSIUM ?
Potassium (K) in the form of K+ is the most essential cation of the cells. Its
high intracellular concentration is regulated by the cell membrane through the
sodium - potassium pump. Most of the total body potassium (TBK) is found in
muscle tissue. Total body potassium has been used as a measure of lean body
mass, of muscle mass, or (more accurately) of cell mass. Because of its association
with the metabolizing, oxygen-consuming portion of the body, a decline in total
body potassium is usually interpreted as a loss of muscle mass due to a catabolic
condition. Potassium exists in nature in three isotopes: 39K (93.26%), 40K (0.0117%)
and 41K (6.73%). 40K is radioactive and responsible for most of the naturally
occurring internal radioactivity in the body. This property enabled several
investigators to monitor total body potassium values as a function of age and
Works with sodium to regulate the body's waste balance and normalize heart
rhythms; aids in clear thinking by sending oxygen to the brain; preserves proper
alkalinity of body fluids; stimulates the kidneys to eliminate poisonous body
wastes; assists in reducing high blood pressure; promotes healthy skin.
With the exception of starvation, low or declining total body potassium is not
a result of insufficient dietary intake but the outcome of a catabolic, protein
wasting condition which reduces the total cell mass of the body. Hypokalemia
(low serum K) is the result of excessive loss of K in the urine, usually as
a result of use of diuretic agents to treat hypertension. Hypokalemia may result
in cardiac failure. May result in poor reflexes, nervous disorders, respiratory
failure, cardiac arrest, muscle damage. Anxiousness, drowsiness, weakness, nausea,
irrational behavior, irregular heartbeat. Spectators are used to watching marathon
runners swig cups of fluid on the run to help them replace bodily fluids lost
through sweating. Actually, far less potassium is lost through sweat than through
prolonged vomiting, diarrhea or diuretics used to treat hypertension.
The Estimated Mininum Requirement for potassium for adolescents and adults is
2000 mg or 50 mEq/day. The usual dietary intake for adults is about 100 mEq/day.
However, many nutritionists now recommend upping the daily quota to 3,500 milligrams
to reduce the risk of high blood pressure. For hypertension patients using diuretic
medication, it is often recommended to supplement their diet with orange juice,
bananas and vegetables which contain high amounts of potassium. Increased potassium
intake helps maintain normal plasma levels. However, the blood level of potassium
(which may be sensitive to diet) is not indicative of total body potassium which
is an index of cell mass and muscle.
Most of the foods contain potassium. The best food sources are fruits, vegetables
and juices, dairy products, fish, lean meats and poultry (bananas, cantaloupes,
orange juice, baked potatoes and low-fat yogurt, in particular, are stellar
sources). Note: The less fat food contains, the richer it's likely to be in
potassium. There is no known food supplement which would directly increase total
body potassium by compensating for a dietary K deficiency.
The fraction of potassium which is present outside the cells plays an active
role in the propagation of electrical signals between neurons, skeletal muscle
function and regulation of blood pressure. Urinary excretion protects against
the accumulation of high levels of potassium. However, acute hyperkalemia can
be lethal by causing cardiac arrest.
Potassium is sacrificed when grains are milled. It also leaches into cooking
water if food is cut too fine and cooked too long, but recycling the "pot likker"
salvages most of it. Because laxatives and diuretics both wash potassium from
the body, they should be taken only as a physician directs. Some of the diuretics
used to treat hypertension — hydrochlorothiazide and furosemide, to name two
— deplete body potassium. Water is flushed out of the body along with potassium,
thus blood volume is reduced as well as blood pressure. Anyone taking potassium-wasting
diuretics must monitor his potassium intake carefully and make sure that the
lost potassium is replaced. Drinking lots of orange juice, eating plenty of
potatoes, bananas and other potassium-rich foods are good ways to go about it.
Most of the recent research is related to the importance of total body potassium
as an index of cell mass. The accelerated loss of total body potassium compared
to protein loss in AIDS patients can be used to predict the time of death of
the patient. Total body potassium is depleted with age, a phenomenon associated
with sarcopenia (loss of skeletal muscle mass and function with age).
For further information:
Flynn, M.A, Nolph, G.B, Baker, A.S., Martin, W.M. & Krause, G. (1989) Total
body potassium in aging humans: a longitudinal study. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 50:
Forbes, G.B. & Reina, J.C. (1970) Adult lean body mass declines with age:
some longitudinal observations. Metabolism 19: 653-663
Kotler, D.P., Tierney, A.R., Wang, J. & Pierson, R.N. (1989) Magnitude of
body-cell-mass depletion and the timing of death from wasting in AIDS. Am. J.
Clin. Nutr. 50: 444-447.