Potassium: biological information
Potassium salts are essential for both animals and plants. The potassium cation (K+) is the major cation in intracellular (inside cells) fluids (sodium is the main extracellular cation). It is essential for nerve and heart function. A normal diet containing reasonable amounts of vegetables contains all the potassium necessary.
Levels in humans
The abundances of the elements in humans.
- Human abundance by weight: 2000000 ppb by weight
- Human abundance by atoms: 320000 atoms relative to C = 1000000
How much potassium is in your body? Find out here.
You can use this form to calculate how much potassium your body contains. Enter your weight in either kilograms or pounds and click the "Calculate" button. You must enter a number, not text! Elements for which there are no data will always give a value of zero for the weight, no matter what you put in the weight box.
Hazards and Risks
Hazards and risks associated with potassium:
Potassium metal is a major fire risk since it catches fire when reacting with water. Potassium salts are extremely toxic when injected. Vomiting (emesis) helps prevents toxic effects from ingestion of excess amounts of potassium.
- J.E. Huheey, E.A. Keiter, and R.L. Keiter in Inorganic Chemistry : Principles of Structure and Reactivity, 4th edition, HarperCollins, New York, USA, 1993.
- S. Budavari (Ed.) in The Merck Index, 11th ed., Merck, USA, 1989.
- N.N. Greenwood and A. Earnshaw in Chemistry of the Elements, 2nd edition, Butterworth, UK, 1997.