Nervous system, Muscles, and Brain
One of Potassiums primary roles is within the intercellular fluid(inside the cell). It along with Sodium forms the Sodium-Potassium pump, which helps to generate the potential energy gradient that allows for the contraction of muscles and a regular heartbeat. Without enough Potassium in our cells, this potential energy gradient suffers leaving muscles and nerves to misfire or not at all. This can be experienced as cramps or muscle weakness. All of this relates to the overall potential and health of motor, cardiovascular, and nervous system functioning.
Potassium also plays an important role in keeping brain function at its optimum potential. Healthy levels of potassium allow more oxygen to reach the brain, thereby stimulating neural activity and increasing cognitive function. Potassium is crucial in preventing the occurrence of stroke. Almost all cases of stroke are associated with extremely low potassium levels. Since Potassium is a vasodilator, the blood vessels can relax in its presence. This means that blood flows more freely and is less likely to clot and break off to cause strokes.
In the Brain, Potassium channels play a key role in maintaining electrical conductivity. This dramatically affects the overall functioning of the brain. It is also involved in higher brain function like memory and learning. In addition to this, ailments like epilepsy are related to the dysfunction of potassium channels that can occur through its deficiency.
Potassium helps boost the efficiency of nerve reflexes that transmit the message from one body part to another. This, in turn, helps in muscle contraction to perform various activities every day without getting tired quickly, which is further benefited by potassium and is required to induce muscle contraction and function.
Potassium is the main electrolyte found within our cells. Due to its presence inside the cell, it is involved in almost every reaction in the body. It is required for cell respiration, the synthesis and transfer of nutrients into and out of cells, kidney functioning, and stomach juice secretion. It does this mainly through being an enzyme cofactor, meaning that it helps to turn certain enzymes on or off and catalyze the reaction needed to take place.
One example we see of potassium catalyzing a reaction is in the release of Gastric acid. This acid is a digestive fluid formed in the stomach composed of hydrochloric acid (HCl), potassium chloride (KCl) and sodium chloride (NaCl). The acid plays a key role in the digestion of proteins, by activating digestive enzymes and making ingested proteins unravel so that digestive enzymes break down the long chains of amino acids. It is the presence of Potassium in the stomach lining the stimulates the release of gastric acid, or the inhibition when the digestive process has been adequately performed. Low Potassium levels can lead to Heartburn or GERD.
A decrease in the potassium level causes a drop in blood sugar. A decrease in blood sugar can cause sweating, headache, weakness, trembling, and nervousness. Intake of potassium chloride and sodium provides immediate relief from such situations. This is also why diabetics are encouraged to keep their potassium levels normal, to reduce the chances of unpredictable spikes and plunges in their glucose and insulin levels by stabilizing the blood sugar levels throughout the body. Potassium works by influencing the pancreas and its release of insulin, the hormone that helps convey sugar into the cells. Lack of potassium may lead to reduced insulin secretion and impaired glucose tolerance that reduces cellular glucose uptake.
Potassium is helpful in reversing the role of sodium in unbalancing normal blood pressure.  Thus, it acts as a vital component that maintains the normality of blood pressure in the human body. This further reduces the risk of heart diseases and hypertension. Regulation of blood pressure is one of the most important functions of this powerful mineral. As mentioned earlier, it is a vasodilator that works to relieve the tension of blood vessels, which is one of the main causes of high blood pressure.
Potassium assists in the metabolic processing of various nutrients like fats and carbohydrates. Thus, it is of a great value in extracting energy from the nutrients that are consumed. Studies have shown that this mineral is also an integral part of the synthesis of protein, which has an impact on tissue regeneration, cell growth, and an overall balanced metabolism.
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