Potassium: function, effect & intake

kalium mineralstoff

Kalium: Funkion, Wirkung & Einnahme

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1. what is potassium?

Potassium is the most important mineral for the human body. Chemically speaking, it is an electrolyte. Over 90% of potassium is inside the cell, the rest outside the cell. By regulating electrical charges, potassium ensures a balance of cell components. Potassium is responsible for the regulation of the water balance. Potassium plays an important role in the transmission of stimuli from a nerve. Potassium creates the conditions for information to be passed from one cell to another. Therefore, potassium must always be present in the human body. In general, potassium is essential for the involvement of muscle activity, the regulation of the water balance and the activation of various enzymes.

2. the tasks of potassium in the body

Tasks of potassium briefly summarized:

  • Maintenance of a normal nervous system
  • Maintenance of normal blood pressure
  • Regulation of the water balance
  • Signal forwarding within the cells
  • Activation of various enzymes
  • Regulation of the PH value
  • Maintaining the balance between the cell interior and exterior
  • Maintenance of the osmotic pressure
  • Transmission of pulses
  • Transport of insulin into the cells
  • Maintenance of the energy metabolism
  • Regulation of the acid-base balance

3. the effect of potassium

Potassium is an electrolyte that helps to control electrical processes in the body with other electrolytes. Other electrolytes include sodium, magnesium, calcium and chloride. By eating potassium-rich food, the balance between chemical and electrical processes in the body can be maintained. The human organism adjusts the amount of potassium ingested to maintain a correct potassium level. Potassium is responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses. Nerve impulses are released to maintain the stability between potassium and sodium. If the body contains too much potassium, the excess potassium is excreted in the urine.

4. the correct dosage & daily requirement of potassium

The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends that an adult should consume approximately 4000 milligrams of potassium daily. Children under 10 years of age need half the amount of an adult, i.e. the requirement is about 2000 milligrams. For breastfeeding women, the recommended amount of potassium is about 4400 milligrams, as they have to supply their child via breast milk. In general, you should always bear in mind that height, weight and sex play an important role. If you take enough potassium daily, you can prevent chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, kidney stones and loss of bone mass.

5. the storage of potassium

Unlike other minerals, potassium cannot be produced and stored by the body itself. When potassium is absorbed but not needed, it is immediately excreted by the body through the urine. Taking too much potassium therefore does not bring any advantage. Potassium should be taken in regularly through food so that the human organism is always sufficiently supplied.

6. potassium - standard values

The human organism has stored an average of about 130 grams of potassium. The potassium value of an adult should be between 3.5 and 5.0 mmol/l (millimol per litre). In children the potassium value is between 4.0 - 5.7 mmol/l. Potassium is excreted via the kidneys.

7 When should the blood potassium level be determined?

Anyone who has problems with the heart muscle should see their doctor for regular monitoring of the potassium level in the blood. The potassium value is often used for the initial diagnosis of muscle problems, cardiac arrhythmia or sensory disturbances. There are also people who should have their potassium levels checked regularly. For example, people who are taking dehydrating agents or medication for heart failure. People who suffer from severe diarrhoea, eating disorders or stomach problems should also have their blood levels tested, as potassium is always excreted via the kidneys. Anyone suffering from complaints that could indicate a potassium deficiency should also have their potassium level checked and explain their complaints or symptoms to the doctor in detail.

8 Who is potassium particularly important for?

Potassium is particularly important for people who suffer from cardiac arrhythmia. The reason: cardiac arrhythmia is often caused by a disturbance in the composition of the electrolytes potassium and magnesium. A deficiency of both electrolytes triggers cardiac arrhythmia and can even intensify it. Potassium and magnesium help to stabilise the heart cells.

9 When is the potassium level too low?

When the potassium level is low, this is called hypokalemia. Hypokalemia occurs when too much of the mineral is excreted through the kidneys. A low potassium level can have many different causes. The main reasons for low potassium levels are vomiting, diarrhoea or kidney disease. A low level can cause cramps, tremors or paralysis. To be able to measure the value, a blood sample must be taken. The blood serum present is used to measure the potassium level and determine whether it is within the norm or how far it is.

10. when is the potassium value elevated?

Hyperkalemia is the elevation of the potassium level in the blood. More precisely, in blood serum. A mild increase is usually harmless and can be easily lowered again. A long-term increase in potassium can lead to muscle weakness and paralysis. Hyperkalemia can be triggered by taking certain medications (e.g. triamterene), which promote potassium excretion at the kidneys. Elderly people with kidney disease are also at risk. A pathological shift of potassium into the extracellular can cause an increased serum-potassium concentration. In general, chronic diseases can also be a cause. Many people who suffer from diabetic ketoacidosis are affected by hyperkalemia.

11. Is an overdose of potassium possible?

When taking potassium in the form of dietary supplements, one should always pay attention to the correct dosage. The recommended intake (daily dose) should never be exceeded. Excessive amounts of nutrients can have an unfavourable effect on the human organism. An extreme overdose of potassium can manifest itself in various ways. Those affected complain of fatigue and headaches. Frequent complaints are also sensory disturbances and disturbances of the acid-base balance. Another acute symptom can be disturbance of the heart function. Permanently excessive amounts of the trace element can cause serious damage.

12. side effects of potassium

Anyone who cannot manage to take in sufficient potassium can take potassium in the form of food supplements. These are available in the form of potassium tablets and potassium capsules. One should always pay attention to the recommended amount and not exceed it. It is also important that the product was produced in Germany and does not contain any additives. When taking potassium, different side effects may occur in rare cases. These can include nausea or vomiting. Other side effects include heartburn, diarrhoea or flatulence.

13 How can a potassium deficiency occur?

Potassium is an essential mineral which should normally be supplied to the human organism regularly in small amounts. The body cannot produce potassium itself. If the body is supplied with too little potassium in the long term, a potassium deficiency may occur. A potassium deficiency is called hypokalemia. This means that the body no longer has sufficient potassium available. Various drugs can cause a lack of potassium. These are, for example, medicines for dehydration (diuretics). These have the side effect of reducing the potassium level enormously. Hypokalemia can lead to numerous deficiency symptoms. A potassium deficiency is often caused by an insufficient or one-sided eating habit. The mineral is particularly found in fruit and vegetables. People who eat poorly can quickly suffer from a deficiency of the mineral. As a rule, essential minerals are lost through frequent vomiting or diarrhoea. Excessive use of laxatives or diseases such as anorexia can also cause a potassium deficiency. Heavy sweating, such as in the sauna, during sports or heavy physical work, causes a large amount of potassium to be excreted. A lot of potassium is lost through this increased potassium excretion.

14. interactions with potassium

Potassium deficiency can be caused by excessive consumption of licorice. The consumption of liquorice greatly promotes the excretion of potassium via the kidneys. Furthermore, the intake of certain drugs can trigger some interactions with potassium. If potassium is taken with cardiac drugs, their effect may be impaired. For example, it reduces the effect of glycosides. On the other hand, there are drugs which increase the potassium concentration in the human organism, such as ACE inhibitors, diuretics or kidney-damaging drugs.

15 Symptoms & consequences of a potassium deficiency

A lack of salt can have serious consequences. A potassium deficiency can lead to disorders such as muscle weakness and muscle pain. It can lead to problems up to neuromuscular problems and disturbances of the intestinal function. Furthermore, motor failures and paralysis can occur. This is because the electrolyte balance becomes unbalanced and a connection between cells and nerves is no longer present. Anyone suffering from a potassium deficiency is usually affected by several symptoms. Those affected often suffer from headaches, mood swings and tiredness. Kidney problems are often a symptom, as potassium is excreted through the kidneys. Those affected complain of digestive problems, dizziness, circulatory problems and in severe cases even heart rhythm disturbances.

16. potassium deficiency Risk groups

  • Women and men over 65
  • People who only eat one side of the diet
  • Athletes, because a lot of potassium is lost through sweat
  • Persons with a congenital elevated potassium excretion
  • Excessive sodium intake (this can lead to a potassium deficiency)
  • People who suffer from an unknown kidney dysfunction
  • Alcoholics

17. what causes can a potassium deficiency have?

A potassium deficiency can have many different causes. Firstly, a potassium deficiency can be genetically determined. People who suffer from a congenital increased potassium excretion automatically excrete more potassium via the kidneys. The amount of potassium can also decrease with certain interactions. Regular consumption of liquorice causes the level to drop considerably. In the case of diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hyperactivity of the adrenal glands, cirrhosis of the liver or anorexia, it is often not possible to avoid a reduction in potassium levels. If people suffer from a hormone disorder, a potassium deficiency can also be the result. For example, the Cushing's symptom affects the potassium level and causes the potassium level to drop rapidly. Elderly people in particular should make sure that they always drink enough and provide the body with plenty of fluids. It is not uncommon for the feeling of thirst to diminish with increasing age. There is therefore a risk of drying out quickly. If the human organism is no longer sufficiently supplied with liquid, the potassium and sodium balance will diverge. As a result, those affected often have to struggle with a disturbance of the water and electrolyte balance. In general, it is always recommended to drink about 1.5 - 2.5 litres of fluid a day.

18 What are the possible causes of increased potassium levels?

If the potassium values are above the normal range, one speaks of hyperkalemia. To be more precise, these are elevated potassium values in blood serum. The value is above 5.4 millimol per litre (mmol/l). Causes for elevated potassium values are, for example, the hyperacidity of the blood. People suffering from diabetes often suffer from hyperacidity of the blood and thus rising potassium values. Severe injuries, burns or infections can also be a cause of hyperkalemia. Kidney disease or the intake of various medications can lead to excess potassium in the blood serum. Diseases of the cardiovascular system or cardiac arrhythmia can also be a cause. Anyone who is particularly under stress or is frequently exposed to stressful situations can also suffer from a potassium deficiency.

19 Typical groups for an increased potassium requirement

  • elderly persons
  • under stress
  • poor or unbalanced diet
  • Anorexia
  • Diets
  • for diseases of the kidneys
  • for diarrhoea or vomiting
  • when taking certain drugs (e.g. diuretics)
  • when taking laxatives
  • in case of excessive salt consumption
  • for inflammatory bowel diseases

20. occurrence of potassium

Potassium is an essential mineral. Almost 98% of the body's cells contain potassium. Potassium is mainly found in fruits and vegetables. Fruits such as bananas, peaches and apricots are very good sources of potassium. Vegetables are mainly potatoes, wheat germs and generally green vegetables are very good sources of potassium. Animal products also contain potassium, but less than fruit and vegetables.

21 How can I absorb potassium through food?

Foods rich in potassium are mainly fruits and vegetables. Potassium is found in the soil and is absorbed by plants through their roots. This is why the potassium content of plant foods varies greatly. Animals thus absorb potassium through their food, so that meat, dairy products and fish also contain potassium. The mineral potassium quickly combines with water. Therefore, vegetables such as potatoes should not be cooked for too long, because then the potassium from the vegetables remains in the cooking water. The less water you use for cooking, the more potassium and nutrients remain in the actual vegetables. A high concentration of potassium is found in tomato paste, dried fruits and fruit juices.

Top 10 foods richest in potassium: (milligrams per 100 grams)

1. dried apricots ca. 1700

2. dried peaches approximately 1500

3. beans and lentils approx. 1100

4. tomato purée approximately 1000

5. dates about 800

6. pistachios about 800

7. pumpernickel about 500

8. potatoes approx. 410

9. Brussels sprouts, kale approx. 400

10. bananas approx. 400

22. prevent high blood pressure with potassium

If the human organism receives too little potassium, the first signs of high blood pressure, such as cramps, can develop quite quickly. If a potassium deficiency lasts longer, heart disorders or paralysis can occur. There should always be a balance between potassium and sodium. However, this can be disturbed by salty food. A too high sodium level can lead to high blood pressure. Potassium, on the other hand, causes the blood pressure to drop again. To prevent high blood pressure, the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends a diet rich in potassium.

23 The correct intake of potassium

Those who would like to take potassium in the form of food supplements can choose between potassium capsules and potassium tablets. These should be taken with sufficient liquid (for example water or juice). It does not matter whether potassium is taken before or after a meal. However, if you have a sensitive stomach and cannot take potassium tablets or potassium capsules on an empty stomach, you should eat something first and then take the food supplements.

24 What is the function of potassium capsules?

Anyone who does not manage to eat an adequate diet rich in potassium lurks the danger of suffering a potassium deficiency. If a potassium deficiency is not treated in the long term, life-threatening consequences can be the cause. Potassium not only provides the essential connection between nerves and cells, but is also closely related to the functioning of the muscles. In severe cases, this can even affect the activity of the heart muscle. In order to replenish its potassium stores, it is worth taking potassium in the form of food supplements. You can buy potassium capsules and potassium tablets in shops. By taking it regularly, the human organism is supplied with potassium again.

25 What is contained in potassium capsules?

Potassium capsules contain pure potassium in the form of potassium citrate and rice flour. The capsule shell consists of vegetable cellulose. There are no additives such as microcrystalline cellulose or magnesium stearate. These potassium capsules are vegan and free of preservatives, colorants, flavors, genetic engineering, lactose, gluten and sugar. One should always make sure that the potassium preparation was produced in Germany to ensure a consistently high quality.

Kalium Kapseln von Vitamineule

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26. which is better: potassium capsules or potassium tablets?

People often ask themselves whether capsules or tablets are the better alternative. Potassium tablets, which are sold in bulk in pharmacies and drugstores, often contain cheap active ingredients and many chemical additives. A variety of fillers and pressing aids are often used to keep the tablet in shape. In general, you should buy potassium capsules without additives, as these are usually in the vegetable capsule shell which can hold the active ingredient together without artificial additives. Capsules are also generally the most common dosage form. They are easy to handle and to swallow. This means that they can release their active ingredient in the stomach very quickly.

27 How can the doctor diagnose a potassium deficiency?

If you have symptoms that could indicate a potassium deficiency, it is best to see your doctor. A potassium level that is too low has a direct effect on health. As an important mineral in the body, potassium is responsible for passing from cell to cell. If this no longer works, serious consequences can arise. Because only through this transmission can the organs, the nervous system and the heart function properly. Potassium is an ion (k+). It is electrically charged. It participates in many electrical processes. The physician can detect a potassium deficiency via the blood. The blood serum determines the potassium level.

28 When does the doctor determine the potassium value?

In a healthy person, the human organism simply regulates the potassium level by itself. The required amount of potassium is taken from the daily diet and the amount that is too much is excreted via the kidneys. However, there are still people who suffer from a potassium deficiency. They often notice certain symptoms such as flatulence, headaches or constipation. In this case you should definitely see your family doctor.

29 How can I remedy a potassium deficiency?

To remedy a potassium deficiency, you need to know the cause. If you have been on a diet low in potassium, you can easily change your diet. Changing your diet with foods rich in potassium can be very useful. Foods rich in potassium are mainly fruit and vegetables, i.e. especially vitamins. Especially dried fruit such as apricots or peaches contain large amounts of the mineral. Anyone who suffers from a severe potassium deficiency despite eating potassium-rich foods should think about taking potassium preparations (potassium capsules or potassium tablets). People often suffer from a potassium deficiency due to the intake of certain medications (e.g. diuretics) or due to congenital kidney function. In these cases it is difficult to get the deficiency under control again only through a potassium-rich diet. Potassium preparations ensure a healthy balance by regular intake. However, you should always pay attention to the stated dosage. Because a strong overdose of the mineral can have bad consequences.

30. conclusion

Potassium is an essential mineral. It is vital for the human organism. The mineral is responsible for regulating the water balance. Potassium is essential for the transmission of nerve impulses. The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends a daily intake of potassium of about 4000 milligrams for an adult. Children need half the potassium of an adult. A potassium deficiency can be caused, for example, by vomiting, diarrhoea or a disease of the kidneys. Typical symptoms of a deficiency are disorders such as muscle weakness. An excess of potassium, on the other hand, can trigger consequences such as loss of sensation or tiredness. Potassium-rich foods are mainly fruit and vegetables. People who suffer from a potassium deficiency can take potassium in the form of food supplements, i.e. potassium capsules or potassium tablets. If you would like to know whether your potassium level is okay, you can have it determined by taking a blood sample from your family doctor. The value is measured in blood serum.


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