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Potassium – An Essential Electrolyte That Sustains Life & Health

Tuesday, September 14, 2010
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POTASSIUM – An Essential Electrolyte for Health & Life
Certain minerals are essential to sustain life - to keep the body’s electrical and cellular functions going by maintaining a balance between these minerals. These are called electrolytes – and sodium, chloride and potassium are three critical electrolytes.

Potassium plays other important roles in the body’s metabolism -

  • Regulate the water balance and acid-base balance in the blood and tissues, along with sodium.
  • Maintain the normal electrical activity of the heart.
  • Play a vital role in the synthesis of protein from amino acids in the cell.
  • Potassium is active in glycogen and glucose metabolism, in carbohydrate metabolism,
  • Important for building muscle and normal growth.

Our blood potassium level is normally 3.6 to 4.8 milli equivalents per litre (mEq/L) and if it exceeds 6.0 mEq/L it is called Hyperkalemia and if it drops lower than 2.5 mEq/L it is called Hypokalemia. Both conditions can be life threatening and require immediate medical intervention.



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User Comments

11 July, 2012 | sathish | Reply

sathish my mom had her mitral valve repair surgery 12 years before, now recently for the past 6 month she is suffering from swollen foot and shortness of breathing while lying down. is this is the cause of MR(MITRAL REGURGITATION) SHE HAS BEEN DIAGNOSED with mild MR and artial fibrillation is this condition a serious one for surgery recent ly she stopped taking some tablets and potklor syrup is this is the cause for her complication.

31 May, 2012 | IstanbulBar | Reply

IstanbulBar I do not even know the way I stopped up right here, hewevor I assumed this post used to be great. I do not know who you're but definitely you're going to a famous blogger should you aren't already. Cheers!

10 August, 2011 | Dr Kalyani | Reply

Dr Kalyani HI I would like to warn the readers, that if you are being treated with certain medications, you should not use potassium supplements without first checking with your attending physician. Only generic names are here, so check if your medication falls under any of them
• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
• ACE inhibitors: for high BP, heart disease, diabetes, some chronic kidney diseases, migraines, and scleroderma
• Heparin (used for blood clots)
• Cyclosporine (used to suppress the immune system)
• Trimethoprimand sulfamethoxazole, called Bactrim or Septra (an antibiotic)
• Beta-blockers: Used to treat high blood pressure, glaucoma, migraines
• Thiazide diuretics
• Loop diuretics
• Corticosteroids
• Amphotericin B AntacidsInsulinFluconazole (Diflucan): Used to treat fungal infections
• Theophylline (TheoDur): Used for asthmaLaxatives
• Digoxin -- Low blood levels of potassium increase the likelihood of toxic effects from digoxin, a medication used to treat abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure. Your doctor will test your potassium levels to make sure they stay normal.
Dr Kalyani

10 August, 2011 | Mrinal | Reply

Mrinal Dear Dr. Kalyani, Thank you for enhancing the article and listing the medications that could trigger serious side effects in patients already fragile.
We had mentioned the warning on page 4 "Older people have a greater risk of Hyperkalemia because the kidneys are less efficient at eliminating potassium as age advances. So they should be careful while taking medication that may affect potassium levels, such as non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and ACE inhibitors." but you have provided a more comprehensive list.
Best wishes.

24 January, 2011 | Leeta | Reply

Leeta I have been a reader for a long time, but am a first time commenter. It is a wonderful read. I just wanted to say great post!

25 January, 2011 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Dear Leeta
Thank you for really encouraging response to our article/s. Appreciation like yours, is what makes our work worth it. It is always been our endeavour to bring in the latest research findings to the public so that everybody benefits.
Kindly read many of our other articles too and do tell your friends about us.
Thank you
warm regards
Vijayalakshmi Iyengar
Sr Dietitian

24 January, 2011 | Saravanan | Reply

Saravanan Hi,my name is saravanan,my problem is low pottasium in the body,When the pottasium level became low it effects my muscles,at the time i can't able to walk,So the doctor adviced me to take the syrub (potklor k+ pottasium) 10mg diluted in water.When i take the medicine ,the problem solved for temperary .
usually daily night i will eat any food items,If i took food means morning muscles will be attacked and i can't do any thing ,so daily night i will take only 2 or 3 bananas.
The low pottasium problem effects big problem in my life.The Medicines (POTKLOR K+ POTTASIUM)is good for my health or not.I don't known what to do.Please advice me what to do.

29 October, 2010 | karthik | Reply

karthik hi,am from chennai,i need to know where can i get pottasium chloride for cooking purpose,and what is kosher salt?and where i can get sweet marjoram leaves,wild marjoram leaves?kindly some one guide me...

30 October, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Hello Mr Kartik, You can get Potassium salts in many of the big pharmacies or chemists in any city, but please ask them to give you the cooking brand.

Kosher salt is rock salt, mainly sodium chloride but unrefined and not iodized. therefore even though it’s mainly sodium chloride it tastes less salty than refined table salt. It’s called `kal uppa’ and available in all grocery shops in Chennai.

Information on Marjoram in Chennai can be got from It’s very popular in `Pot pourri’ or in perfumery industries

18 September, 2010 | shiv | Reply

shiv Hi are potassium salts easily available in stores and are they as salty as Nacl? Are Potassium salts also iodised?

15 September, 2010 | Nivedita | Reply

Nivedita Is potassium permanganate a form of potassium supplement.

Also, does potassium work best when had with sodium and other minerals or can potassium by itself work as an electrolyte?

15 September, 2010 | Sangeetha Narayana Swamy | Reply

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy Dear Nivedita,

(a) Potassium permanganate, is not a medicine/supplement but rather a caustic alkali that oxidizes organic matter. It is sold as a powder, which is a purple crystalline powder or granules with a metallic sheen.

Potassium permanganate is used as a powerful oxidizing agent, as a disinfectant in a variety of applications. Therefore it is effective against waterborne bacteria infections, external fungal infections, and all ciliate infections that are not encysted, present in the food products like fish, vegetables, fruits etc for cleaning purposes and that too in very minute proportions. A small amount must be dissolved in clean water before usage and after this the food product must be washed thoroughly before cooking.

(b) Electrolytes are substances that become ions in solution and acquire the ability to conduct electricity. Electrolytes are present in the human body, and the balance of the electrolytes in our bodies is necessary for normal function of our cells and our organs.

Potassium is one of the major electrolytes with important functions in the body. It is important to have a balance of all the electrolytes like sodium, chloride and bicarbonate along with potassium.

15 September, 2010 | Nivedita | Reply

Nivedita Hey Sangeetha,
Thank you. I am sorry I asked such a stupid question. I actually meant the liquid potassium the nurse gave my aunt in the hospital when she was very heavily dehydrated.
what type of potassium is that?

15 September, 2010 | Sangeetha Narayana Swamy | Reply

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy Liquid potassium is Potassium chloride that is used to treat/prevent low levels of potassium in the blood.

Low levels of potassium in blood is seen during severe vomiting, diarrhea, inadequate potassium in the diet and also the use of certain medications like diuretics.

Thank you for your query.

15 September, 2010 | Nivedita | Reply

Nivedita Thanks.
It was an orange flavored thing that smelled sharp. They also said they were giving her salt in the bag drip as was very weak. She had been throwing up a lot for 4-5 days. She is ok now.

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