Potassium is one of the electrolytes essential to the smooth running of the human body; in fact just about all bodily functions depend on it to some extent. It is also one of the most abundant minerals in the body, constituting 70% of the positive ions inside cells; the rest are a mixture of sodium, magnesium, calcium, arginine, and others. Potassium is distributed to the cells by a process of passive diffusion and is regulated by an enzyme called adenosinetriphosphatase together with the level of sodium concentration inside the cell. Potassium and sodium are antagonistic, which means that an imbalance of one will automatically cause an imbalance of the other; normally potassium should predominate inside the cell.
Potassium is necessary for normal cell respiration; a deficiency can cause decreased levels of oxygen, which will reduce the efficiency of cell function. Adequate supplies of potassium are also required to regulate heartbeat, facilitate normal muscle contraction, regulate the transfer of nutrients to cells, and regulate kidney function and stomach juice secretion, among other things. One of the most important uses of potassium in the body is in the process of nerve transmission, as it is a cofactor catalyst for the activation of several enzyme systems, but since only minute amounts are required for these processes, deficiency in this respect is unlikely.