My name is Christine Marquette and I am a
Registered and Licensed Dietitian with The Austin Regional Clinic and I am going to talk
to you about potassium. Potassium is one of the required minerals in the body it acts
as a cation in the body. It is often referred to as one of the electrolytes. Electrolytes
also include sodium, calcium, magnesium and chloride. The way potassium works in the body
is it interacts with the other electrolytes to maintain fluid balance and to maintain
acid base balance as well as to make sure that waste products are regulated effectively.
Most potassium is actually found in the muscle tissue so often a measurement of potassium
is used to determine a person’s muscle mass. If they have a low potassium level in their
muscle tissue that indicates that they have some type of muscle waisting condition, some
type of protein wasting conditions. Potassium that is found in the fluids also is an indicator
of kidney function and again your acid based balance so if somebody has very low potassium
levels they may have had an excessive amount of vomiting or diarrhea or they have experienced
some other form of fluid loss say for example they were in a very bad accident and had a
lot of blood loss or a very bad trauma such as a burn that their body flooded that particular
area or that particular wound with a lot of blood so that is another type of reason that
could cause a low level of potassium. Potassium generally also is recognized for its role
in muscle and heart regulation. A lot of times people are deficient in potassium and they’ll
experience cramping and they will experience problems with their heart if they also have
low or extremely high levels of potassium, irregular heart beat or they could also experience
cardiac arrest so potassium is a very important mineral, it has a lot of functions in the
body and it is important that it is kept at normal levels.