You may not know much about potassium, but your certainly should. Why? Well, potassium is an important mineral and an essential health nutrient. Without potassium many parts of your body would not be able to function, but you want to be careful not to consume too much of this element.
Here are 20 essential and interesting facts about potassium.
Fact 1: Potassium is an alkali metal, meaning it is silver-colored and soft enough to be cut by a knife. Its atomic number is 19 and its symbol K. It is quick to oxidize when exposed to air and is found in salts in nature.
Fact 2: Because it tarnishes in air within minutes, in order to preserve it, potassium is often stored in oil and kerosene. If the air is too moist potassium can catch on fire because of its reaction to water.
Fact 3: Potassium is most commonly used in fertilizers, while other potassium salts such as nitrate, carbonate, chloride, bromide, cyanide and sulfate are used for various purposes. For example, potassium carbonate is used in the manufacturing of glass and potassium hydroxide is used in detergents and liquid soap.
Fact 4: Potassium is vital for life. Plant cells contain plenty of potassium and the average human consumes up to 7 grams of potassium per day. Although potassium is important in a healthy diet and is found in leafy greens, cucumbers, eggplant, carrots, dairy foods, bananas and poultry, some foods such as sardines, nuts and potatoes contain above average potassium levels.
Fact 5: Potassium is the seventh most abundant metal in the world and the third most abundant mineral in the human body. It makes up around 2.4% of the earth’s crust.
Fact 6: Potassium mining extracts about 35 million tons of potassium a year.
Fact 7: The top three world producers of potassium are Canada, Russia and Belarus.
Fact 8: Potassium regulates fluid and electrolyte balance, meaning it counters a diet high in sodium, it also maintains normal blood pressure, helps transmit nerve impulses, maintains the health of our bones and controls the contraction of our muscles.
Fact 9: Potassium is involved with memory and learning! It is actually a brain food and can help you improve your brain function.
Fact 10: If your body is low on potassium you may experience the following: weakness, nausea, muscle cramps and fatigue.
Fact 11: The name potassium derives from the English word “potash” which refers to potassium’s extraction from wood ash, which was in early times used to make soap.
Fact 12: Potassium’s chemical symbol comes from the Latin word for alkali, Kalium.
Fact 13: Potassium was discovered by English the chemist Sir Humphry Davy in 1807, who isolated it from caustic potash. It was also the first metal to be isolated by electrolysis.
Fact 14: When burned potassium compounds emit a violet flame color.
Fact 15: Potassium nitrate, consisting of potassium, nitrogen and oxygen, is used in gunpowder and fireworks.
Fact 16: Potassium is radioactive! However, it is still vital for our good health. There are 17 known isotopes in potassium; however the potassium we consume has around 3 isotopes to it.
Fact 17: Americans are supposed to consume around 4,700 mg of potassium a day. This amount is found in about 11 bananas!
Fact 18: Potassium is vital for plant cells and crops often deplete potassium from the soil, this is the reason behind potassium’s use in fertilizer.
Fact 19: Potassium is never found free in nature and is obtained through the electrolysis of hydroxide.
Fact 20: Potassium is the second lightest metal, with lithium occupying first place.