Minerals of life – sodium and potassium
Happy New Year to all the great readers of this column. I thank you very much for your patronage for yet another year. I thank GOD for keeping all of us alive, most especially those of us that read the articles we post in this column. You are alive not only because you read the articles, but because you practise what you read. I welcome you to 2018. I personally think it is a year of abundance of the blessings of the Kingdom of heaven, a year of great accomplishments and a year of abundance of life. The abundance of life in 2018 will surely be your portion as you continue to be a partaker of the articles in this column. I believe the Almighty GOD will reveal nature itself to us on a larger scale and like I always say, it is only nature that can repair nature; we are part and parcel of nature. This revation will come from further studies that I intend to undertake in the study of plants and their components, especially those components that will be of relevance to our wellness. This will be a good year and all I can say is get ready to see nature at work in you.
At the end of 2017, I wrote on antioxidants, their role in neutralizing free radicals and the food sources of these antioxidants. One thing that was made clear in those articles is the fact that all that our bodies need are to be found in the food that we eat and water that we drink. This is what we intend to continue doing as 2018 begins.
To kick off in this new year, I will be writing on the minerals and elements that are essential in maintaining the physiological status of our bodies and those that even function in preventing diseases and curing some diseases as the case may be. I will be presenting two minerals, sodium and potassium for starters. I am writing about these two minerals because, apart from their individual contributions to the wellbeing of man and their functions in the body, the two of them together play a very significant role in the maintenance of osmotic balance between the cells and the interstitial fluid. Not only that, they are both involved in the electrochemical gradient that is created over the cell membrane that gives rise to the transmission of nerve impulses in neurons.
This is an alkaline mineral that is predominantly found in the plasma and the extracellular fluid compartment. As an alkaline mineral, sodium helps to maintain the alkalinity of the tissues and fluid of the body.
Sodium is the main mineral involved in regulating the blood pressure through balancing the osmotic pressure and fluid volume in the body. It does this through the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system.
The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system
This is a system that regulates the fluid volume in the body and by extension, the blood pressure. In response to reduced renal blood flow caused by dehydration for example and low concentration of sodium in the kidney, certain cells in the kidney convert prorenin in the plasma to renin. Renin in turn acts on angiotensinogen released from the liver to produce angiotensin 1. Angiotensin 1 is further converted to angiotensin 2 by the action of the enzyme, angiotensin converting enzyme produced in the lungs. Angiotensin 2 has two functions: Firstly, it causes the constriction of the arterioles and capillaries in the body. Secondly, it causes the release of aldosterone from the cortex of the adrenal glands. Aldosterone acts on the tubules of the kidneys to cause them to increase reabsorption of sodium and water into the blood. This helps to increase the fluid volume in the body. Increased fluid volume and sodium concentration block the production of renin and puts a check on the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone impulse.
In next week Thursday’s edition of the Guardian Newspaper, I will continue this article as I write on the food sources of sodium and the role of potassium in the maintenance of fluid and electrolyte balance in the body.
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