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It was given the name potassium because it was obtained from potash. It is an indispensible constituent of the body cells.
· Potassium is an important intracellular cation and needed for all cellular functions.
· It maintains the alkalinity of the bile and blood.
· It plays an important role in the regulation of acid-base balance in the cell.
· It influences cardiac muscle activity.
· The glycolytic enzyme pyruvate kinase requires potassium for its maximal activity.
Most foods contain potassium. Animal sources include meat, fish , egg, milk, cheese. Vegetables like onion and carrot, fruits like banana, grapes and legumes such as beans also contain potassium.
The normal intake of potassium in food is about 4 gm/day.
Normally potassium is completely absorbed from the gastro intestinal tract and it is normally eliminated almost entirely in the urine and a small amount in the feces.
Deficiency of potassium leads to depression in cardiac and nervous system. Severe vomitting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, fasting or starvation over a long period of time, may lead to deficiency of potassium. It also occurs during renal failure and shock. Fatigue, muscular weakness, heart and respiratory dysfunction are common signs of potassium deficiency.
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