Why does the body need calcium, potassium together? Calcium has been gone over many times on this blog – we all know its role in bones, muscles, hormones and the nervous system. Potassium acts in a similar way to calcium – the mineral helps to regulate heart function, nerve and muscle activity and kidney function.
Like calcium, potassium is drawn from the diet – and is stored in muscles and cells. If there is too much of it in the body, it is excreted out.
There are a number of minerals like potassium that aid absorption of calcium in the body. These include vitamin D and K and magnesium and zinc. As absorption decreases as you age, there is a greater need to focus on what foods you are eating, and what nutrients they hold in order to maintain good levels of vitamins and minerals in the body.
However, potassium’s partnership with calcium is important and there are a lot of ways in which potassium can help calcium in the body. For example, potassium decreasing the amount of calcium lost from excretion out of the body.
On a high sodium diet, you will excrete more calcium. However, consuming potassium will decrease the amount lost. This is particularly useful for women who have gone past the menopause. Potassium-sparing diuretics have also been found to reduce the amount of calcium excreted in urine, which in turn increases calcium levels in the blood. Because of this, consuming more potassium may help prevent kidney stones from forming.
Other things that can help aid calcium excretion include alcohol and caffeine.
Calcium can also treat hyperkalemia – which is a common cause of cardiac arrhythmias. These occur when the level of potassium in the blood is higher than normal. Symptoms of hyperkalemia include muscle weakness, fatigue, irregular heartbeat or sudden cardiac arrest. Severe hyperkalemia is a medical emergency that can lead to death. Doctors normally treat this condition with a calcium infusion to help regulate cardiac arrhythmias. Emergency treatment of hyperkalemia generally includes giving calcium intravenously – typically in the form of calcium chloride or calcium gluconate. Administering calcium intravenously is usually the first step in managing hyperkalemia.