As the principal cation of the intracellular fluid, potassium plays an important role in fluid and electrolyte balance. The normal potassium concentration in the intracellular fluid compartment is about 160 mEq/liter. The normal serum potassium range is 3.5 to 5.0 mEq/liter. The kidney normally regulates potassium balance but does not conserve potassium as well or as promptly as it conserves sodium. The daily turnover of potassium in the normal adult averages 50 to 150 mEq (milliequivalents) and represents 1.5 to 5% of the total potassium content of the body.
Acetate (CH3COO−), a source of hydrogen ion acceptors, is an alternate source of bicarbonate (HCO3−) by metabolic conversion in the liver. This has been shown to proceed readily, even in the presence of severe liver disease.