Suppression

Potassium

Category: Natural chemicals

Type

Voluntary

Introduction and description

Potassium is a chemical element with symbol K (from Neo-Latin kalium). Naturally occurring potassium is composed of three isotopes, one of which, 40K, is radioactive. Traces (0.012%) of this isotope is found in all potassium making it the most common radioactive element in the human body. Potassium in nature occurs only in ionic salts. It is found dissolved in seawater (which is 0.04% potassium by weight), and is part of many minerals.

Generally Potassium is also found in many plants, but heavy crop production rapidly depletes soils of potassium, and agricultural fertilizers have to be used to supplement the poor soils – fertilisers consume 95% of global potassium chemical production.

Potassium is the eighth or ninth most common element by mass (0.2%) in the human body, so that a 60 kg adult contains a total of about 120 g of potassium. The body has about as much potassium as sulphur and chloride, and only the major minerals calcium and phosphorus are more abundant.

Diseases and illnesses caused by imbalance

Potassium ions are necessary for the function of all living cells. It is one of the key minerals used by the Physical nervous system. The section on Potassium imbalance describes the effects of either deficiency of potassium or of overdosing.

Sources of Potassium

There is some debate regarding the optimal amount of dietary potassium. For example, the 2004 guidelines of the Institute of Medicine specify a DRI of 4,700 mg of potassium (100 mEq). In fact this figure is a little meaningless unless we know the age and weight of the person or whether they are losing potassium.  Most Americans consume only half that amount per day, which would make them formally deficient. In the European Union, in particular in Germany and Italy, insufficient potassium intake is said to be 'common'.

Dietary supplements such as solid tablets of potassium chloride can kill tissue and cause injury to the gastric or intestinal mucosa. [For this reason, non-prescription supplement potassium pills are limited by law in the US]. As such it is far better to get your potassium from food. The following foods contain potassium and are listed in order of potassium content. For more details see the USDA Nutrients database.

Leavening agents – such as baking powder and cream of tartar

Herbs – especially parsley, but also chervil, dill, coriander, tarragon, basil, mint, marjoram, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves etc

Coffee

Tomatoes

Radishes

Red peppers and paprika pepper

Soy sauce, soya flour and soya beans

Chocolate [more specifically cocoa powder]

Seaweed – notably spirulina

Alliums  - such as leeks, chives, onions

Yeast extract spreads such as Marmite

Spicesturmeric, cayenne pepper, cumin seed, fennel seed, saffron, anise, black pepper, ground ginger, coriander seed, cloves, fenugreek, mustard seed, poppy seed

Dried fruit – especially dried Apricots and dried peaches, but also prunes , currants, raisins, persimmons, figs, dates including Medjool dates

Beans – white beans, lima beans, kidney beans, soy beans, adzuki beans, mung beans, broad beans, split pees, lentils, chick peas

Mushrooms – shiitake

Bananas

Wholegrains – especially wholegrain rice

Molasses

Fish – cod, smoked salmon, some shellfish, salmon, ling, mackerel, anchovy, herring, halibut 

Seeds – many sorts including celery seed, caraway seeds, dill seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds,

Egg white

Nuts – especially pistachio, but also gingko nuts, beechnuts, chestnuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, pine nuts

Peanut butter

Brassicas and other green vegetables – such as beet greens snd spinach, swiss chard

Worcester sauce - and tamarind [Worcester sauce contains tamarind]

Ovaltine

Water chestnuts and bamboo shoots

Baked potatoes – with skin

Related observations