What exactly does potassium do for the body?

I was just wondering why I should keep eating all of these bananas. Could somone tell me what potassium does for the body?

All else being equal, you shouldn’t need to choke down extra bananas to keep your system stoked with enough potasium. But that shouldn’t stop the ever-important acquisition of knowledge.

As far as what potasium (or K for short) does, I don’t know how much detail you want. I’ll err on the side of brevity, but I’d be happy to provide more if you want.

In short, K is vitally important in maintaining electrical potential differences across celluar membranes. These potential differences are used to: (1) Send nerve signals; (2) keep the heart pumping and pumping in the correnct rhythm; (3) contract muscles, and then allow them to relax; (4) and many, many, many other important things.

If you have too much or too little K, problems can arise in all these areas, which can rapidly be fatal. In fact, one of the chemicals used for letal injection is KCl-- or potasium chloride. The massive dose of K stops the heart from beating and delivers the state’s final justice.

It keeps your eyelids from doing that little spasming thing. MAN, I hate that.

All of your muscles work on a sodium/potassium pump, IIRC. Without potassium, your muscles would stop functioning, and since your heart is a muscle that wouldn’t be a good thing.

I’ll try not to get too technical here.

Potassium is found in many foods. While bananas get all the credit, no one talks about figs and molasses, which are very good sources of potassium. But if you eat meat, fruits and veggies, you are getting enough. You don’t want too much potassium, since this might destroy your heart; and people with heart problems need to be careful of using salt substitutes which contain potassium chloride.

Basically, your nerves work by sending a message down a wire. The electricity that sends a message to your brain, heart or muscle is handed down the line by a bunch of tag-team runners composed of sodium and potassium. When there is too little potassium, the signal is too weak and the person feels drowsy and has muscle spasms called “tetany”. If there is too much potassium, the heart is overworked and has trouble getting enough oxygen, which can cause heart attacks. The kidneys work hard to keep your potassium at the right level.

A number of conditions can cause potassium levels to be too low: poor nutrition, overuse of steroids (although the inhaled kinds are safe) and taking high doses of most water pills (diuretics) are the most common cause.

The potassium might be too high if given medications like “ACE-inhibitors” or specific water pills like spironolactone. There are several other causes for high potassium, which can be a very dangerous condition.

Well, the DRV for potassium is something like 3 grams, right? What is overdose range? Or a range that is considered dangerous?