by johnah on November 20, 2020
Potassium is essential for life. Without it, cells cannot function properly and the body suffers from a lack of energy. One of the most common causes of death in children under five years old are kidney stones caused by too much potassium in their urine. Another cause of death among elderly people is due to heart failure or stroke because they have no more blood flow to vital organs such as brain, heart and kidneys.
The problem with potassium is that it’s so easy to get. Potassium chloride (KCl) is used widely in industry and agriculture for its ability to keep food fresh. KCl is also needed in medicine and cosmetics because it helps remove impurities from water.
It’s even found in some toothpastes as a preservative.
But there’s another type of potassium called “potassium” which is not found naturally in nature. Potassium nitrate (KNO3), also known as potash, is a form of potassium that’s been chemically altered to make it easier to obtain. Potash comes in many forms including granules, crystals and powder.
It can be mined from rocks or made synthetically using chemicals. Heating, washing and evaporating solutions containing potash produces the many types of potash.
Potassium is used in fertilizers mainly because it’s included in the potash group and is necessary for plant growth. It’s also used in gunpowder, fire extinguishers and fireworks. Other uses include de-icing, welding, glass manufacturing, polishing metal and refining sugar.
It’s also a key ingredient in many drugs, including time release capsules and antibiotics.
Did You Know?
Potassium and sodium are also the key minerals in alkaline batteries.
Potassium is a good conductor of electricity. It has the ability to transfer electrons between atoms.
When mixed with water, potash will produce a thick foam which can be used as a fire extinguisher.
The fertilizer industry uses potash to enhance the growth of plants.
Potassium is a necessary ingredient in gunpowder.
Potassium metal can be found in thearta trusses and airplanes. It is a very strong metal that doesn’t rust easily.
Potassium is usually found dissolved in water or minerals in the earth’s crust. It makes up about 2% of your body weight and your body needs it for many important functions. It is necessary for keeping cell membranes functioning properly and it allows your nerves to send messages to your brain.
It’s also needed for the conversion of food into energy.
The most dangerous effect of too much potassium is that it can cause irregular heart rhythms and can trigger cardiac arrest. The effects of too much potassium don’t happen immediately. Instead, they build up over a period of days or weeks.
Other serious effects of too much potassium include kidney damage, muscle weakness and paralysis.
Treatment for hyperkalemia includes administering sodium bicarbonate which can help neutralize the acid in your blood. Your doctor may also choose to give you medications that help break down extra potassium in your blood and kidneys. In more serious cases of hyperkalemia, the doctor may have to insert a tube into your throat to help you breathe or perform cardiac massage to keep your heart beating.
After treatment, it is very important to follow your doctor’s instructions and get plenty of rest. Your potassium levels should return to normal within a few weeks.
Preventing hyperkalemia means eating a healthy diet and avoiding supplements that may cause your potassium levels to increase. It’s also extremely important to tell your doctors if you have any other medical conditions, such as kidney disease or diabetes.
Recent studies have shown that eating too much sugar can also contribute to high potassium levels. Most people in the United States eat about twice as much sugar as they should each day. The average American eats about 150 lbs of sugar per year.
How can you reduce your sugar intake?
Start by reading the nutrition labels on the food you buy. Foods that have high amounts of sugar will say so in the list of ingredients. Try to avoid foods with sugar listed in the top 5 ingredients. You should also try to reduce how much fruit juice you drink and switch from sodas to water or other unsweetened beverages.
Too much sugar can cause more than just high potassium levels. Refined sugars can cause weight gain, increased chance of heart disease and diabetes, and cavities, among other conditions.
Sources & references used in this article:
Testing soils for potassium, calcium, and magnesium by VA Haby, MP Russelle… – Soil testing and plant …, 1990 – Wiley Online Library
Soil amendment with biochar increases the competitive ability of legumes via increased potassium availability by NJ Oram, TFJ van de Voorde, GJ Ouwehand… – Agriculture, Ecosystems …, 2014 – Elsevier
Effects of long-term nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium fertilization on Chenin blanc vines. II. Leaf analyses and grape composition by WJ Conradie, D Saayman – American journal of enology …, 1989 – Am Soc Enol Viticulture
Phosphorus and potassium soil test and nitrogen leaf analysis as a base for citrus fertilization by JA Quaggio, H Cantarella, B Van Raij – Nutrient Cycling in …, 1998 – Springer
Research on potassium in agriculture: needs and prospects by V Römheld, EA Kirkby – Plant and soil, 2010 – Springer
Potassium-solubilizing microorganism in evergreen agriculture: an overview by VS Meena, I Bahadur, BR Maurya, A Kumar… – Potassium solubilizing …, 2016 – Springer
The role of potassium in alleviating detrimental effects of abiotic stresses in plants by I Cakmak – Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, 2005 – Wiley Online Library
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