K is for Potassium (K)

K is for Potassium (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Potassium

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Potassium
 (play /pɵˈtæsiəm/ po-tas-ee-əm) is the chemical element with the symbol K (from Neo-Latin kalium) and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.

Because potassium and sodium are chemically very similar, it took a long time before their salts were differentiated. The existence of multiple elements in their salts was suspected from 1702,[1] and this was proven in 1807 when potassium and sodium were individually isolated from different salts by electrolysis. Potassium in nature occurs only in ionic salts. As such, it is found dissolved in seawater (which is 0.04% potassium by weight[2][3]), and is part of many minerals.

Most industrial chemical applications of potassium employ the relatively high solubility in water of potassium compounds, such as potassium soaps. Potassium metal has only a few special applications, being replaced in most chemical reactions with sodium metal.

Potassium ions are necessary for the function of all living cells. Potassium ion diffusion is a key mechanism in nerve transmission, and potassium depletion in animals, including humans, results in various cardiac dysfunctions. Potassium is found in especially high concentrations within plant cells, and in a mixed diet it is mostly concentrated in fruits. The high concentration of potassium in plants, associated with comparatively low amounts of sodium there, resulted in potassium’s being first isolated from potash, the ashes of plants, giving the element its name. For the same reason, heavy crop production rapidly depletes soils of potassium, and agricultural fertilizers consume 95% of global potassium chemical production.[4]

 

The action of the sodium-potassium pump is an example of primary active transport. The two carrier proteins on the left are using ATP to move sodium out of the cell against the concentration gradient. The proteins on the right are using secondary active transport to move potassium into the cell.

 The largest deposits ever found lie 1000 meters (3000 feet) below the surface of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The deposits are located in the Elk Point Group produced in the Middle Devonian. Saskatchewan, where several large mines have operated since the 1960s, pioneered the use of freezing of wet sands (the Blairmore formation) in order to drive mine shafts through them.

A potassium intake sufficient to support life can in general be guaranteed by eating a variety of foods. Clear cases of potassium deficiency (as defined by symptoms, signs and a below-normal blood level of the element) are rare in healthy individuals. Foods rich in potassium include parsley, driedapricotsdried milkchocolate, various nuts (especially almonds and pistachios), potatoesbamboo shootsbananasavocadossoybeans, and bran, although it is also present in sufficient quantities in most fruits, vegetables, meat and fish.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jesse Saum
    Mar 28, 2013 @ 21:04:11

    Potassium is a crucial mineral for the functioning of the heart and tissues. This mineral aids muscle function and digestion, and it plays a vital role in nerve function. Additionally, potassium functions as an electrolyte in the body, meaning it conducts electricity. Some studies indicate that potassium may be instrumental in b^

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