Potassium chloride is a naturally occurring compound, and has a chemical formula KCl. Potassium chloride (KCl) has the same properties of table salt (NaCl). Both these salts are white crystalline solids that can easily dissolve in the water and absorbed by plant and animals. Both compounds have chlorine (a Halide) that imparts certain electrochemical properties to them.
This mineral is essential for both animals and plants. Potassium chloride is used as fertilizer in the agriculture sector. Humans usually get their needed potassium by consuming food; fruits, vegetables and meat. Soil content of potassium greatly affects the production of a crop.
Potassium is a major electrolyte that is important for the function of every cell in the body. An electrolyte is a substance that splits into ions in solution form, and have the ability to conduct the electricity or charge. Electrolytes are present in the body of all animals, including human. The balance of electrolytes in our body is necessary for the proper functioning of the body tissues and organs. The most common electrolytes are potassium, sodium, bicarbonate and chloride. The chemical notation of potassium is K+.
The optimum level of potassium is essential for normal cell functions. For example, it is important in nerve transmission, muscle contraction, kidney and heart function. A deficiency of potassium is called hypokalemia. It is a serious condition, as potassium is not only essential for growth and functioning, but also vital in keeping the heart healthy. Individuals with potassium deficiency may have irregular heartbeats or arrhythmia. Hypokalemia also affects the neuromuscular system of the body.
There is debate on the optimal amount of dietary potassium, American consumes half of the Dietary Reference Intake. In the European Union, the insufficient consumption of potassium is somewhat common, particularly in Italy and Germany.
A deficiency of potassium ions in the body fluids may produce a fatal condition called as Hypokalemia. This condition results in vomiting, diuresis, and diarrhea. Symptoms of potassium deficiency include muscle weakness, decreased reflex response, ECG abnormalities, cardiac arrhythmia, alkalosis, paralytic ileus and in severe cases respiratory paralysis may occur.
Potassium citrate is a mineral salt of potassium that is used to minimize the acidity in the blood and urine, so it can prevent the building up kidney stones. It can be used to treat the arthritic conditions by reducing uric acid crystal and waste.
Patients of hypertension might be fully aware of the fact that the sodium salt can worsen their condition. About 10% of the hypertension patients are sensitive to table salt (sodium chloride), and reduction in the use of table salt can reduce blood pressure. Replacing potassium with sodium salts can help reduce blood pressure. Various research studies in animals suggest, the diets that are high in potassium can reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. Some other studies also indicate that heart diseases are associated with a combined deficiency of potassium and thiamine in rats.
The patients of hypertension who are following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan have shown evidences of lowering blood pressure. The ingredients of DASH diet have high amounts of potassium, calcium and magnesium, and low total fats.
Potassium is essential for good health, and meeting the required level is not much difficult, if someone eats a variety of foods. It is suggested that, try to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and drink lot of water. A moderate increase of potassium in the diet and reduction of sodium may be good for the health.