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Potassium is chemically very similar to sodium , the previous element in group 1 of the periodic table. They have a similar first ionization energy , which allows for each atom to give up its sole outer electron. That they are different elements that combine with the same anions to make similar salts was suspected in 1702,  and was proven in 1807 using electrolysis . Naturally occurring potassium is composed of three isotopes , of which 40
K is radioactive . Traces of 40
K are found in all potassium, and it is the most common radioisotope in the human body.
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Manoj Parikh, MD FRCA, Stephen T Webb, MB BCh BAO FRCA EDIC FFICM; Cations: potassium, calcium, and magnesium, Continuing Education in Anaesthesia Critical Care & Pain , Volume 12, Issue 4, 1 August 2012, Pages 195–198, https://doi.org/10.1093/bjaceaccp/mks020
An ion ( / ˈ aɪ ə n , - ɒ n / )  is an atom , or a molecule , in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons , giving the atom or molecule a net positive or negative electrical charge . An atom, or molecule, with a net positive charge is a cation . An atom, or molecule, with a net negative charge is an anion . Because of their opposite electric charges, cations and anions attract each other and readily form ionic compounds , such as salts .