11 Signs You Might Have a Potassium Deficiency

Few people ever give potassium a second thought, yet this mineral helps to keep them alive. Potassium is imperative for healthy nerve function, fluid balance in the cells and tissues of the body, relaxing muscles and regulating heartbeat. This essential mineral is critical to life. Yet, shockingly, some experts indicate that 98†percent†of peoplesí diets do not contain enough potassium.

But, a dietary inadequacy is not the only reason people are deficient in this important mineral. Due to our high sodium intake, which further depletes potassium, many people are deficient in potassium, which can cause some serious health risks. If the deficiency gets low enough, it can actually be life-threatening. Sadly, many people are suffering with poor health when they actually have a completely and easily addressable potassium deficiency.

 

11 Signs You Might Have a Potassium Deficiency

There are many signs and symptoms of potassium deficiency, including some which overlap with other health problems. If you have any of them it is advisable to see your doctor. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

Breathing difficulties

Because potassium helps to carry oxygen in the body, a shortfall of the mineral can result in shortness of breath and can even stop the lungs from working.

Digestive problems

While digestive problems like bloating and constipation can have many causes, potassium deficiency is one.

Fatigue and weakness

Fatigue (including muscle weakness) are often among the first signs of a potassium deficiency.

Heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat

Heart conditions in which your heart beats faster, harder or skips a beat are frequently linked to potassium deficiency.

High blood pressure

Hypertension can be linked to low levels of potassium.

High blood sugar levels

Also a factor in diabetes, high blood sugar can be the result of low potassium levels, according to research in the journal Nutrients.

Mental fatigue

Potassium helps to ensure healthy brain signals; without sufficient amounts of potassium mental fatigue may result.

Mood changes or mental illness

A†study in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry found a link between mental illness and potassium deficiency.

Muscle aches and stiffness

Potassium in the blood draws oxygen-rich blood to the muscles but insufficient potassium causes blood vessels to constrict, preventing sufficient blood flow to the muscles

Muscle cramps and spasms

Muscle cramps and leg cramps can be linked to either or both magnesium or potassium deficiency.

Numbness and tingling

Known as paresthesia of the arms, feet, hands or legs can signal nerve damage due to potassium deficiency.

 

How to Address a Potassium Deficiency

Because potassium deficiency can be a factor in many other health conditions, it is often helpful to improve your diet to include more potassium-rich foods. Additionally, it is important to reduce your sodium intake if you have a potassium deficiency since high levels of sodium can result in low levels of potassium.

Fortunately, potassium is found in many fruits and vegetables. Here are some of the ones with the highest levels of the nutrient:

  • Beet greens (and to a lesser extent beets)
  • Chinese cabbage (bak choi)
  • Purslane (a wild leafy green)
  • Watercress
  • Lambís quarters (a wild leafy green)
  • White beans
  • Clams
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Avocados
  • Pinto beans
  • Bananas

A potassium deficiency is almost always linked to too few plant-based foods in a personís diet and/or excessive sodium intake. Fortunately, itís easy to rectify this situation. In addition to cutting down on sodium, itís easy to eat more plant-based foods.

According to research by the American College of Cardiology, simply eating 1600 milligrams more potassium on a daily basis was sufficient to reduce stroke risk by 21 percent.

Due to the high amount of potassium in many fruits, vegetables and other foods, it is rarely necessary to use potassium supplements. The daily recommended intake for potassium is 4700 milligrams. Most supplements contain 99 milligrams. Compare that amount to a banana which contains 422 milligrams.

Of course, if your doctor has advised taking potassium supplements you should follow her or his orders. Follow package directions if supplementing with potassium since severely high levels of potassium can be dangerous.

 

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM shares her food growing, cooking, preserving, and other food self-sufficiency adventures at FoodHouseProject.com. She is the publisher of the free e-newsletter Worldís Healthiest News and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include her newest book: FOOD FIX: The Most Powerful Healing Foods and How to Use Them to Overcome Disease. Follow her work.

 

75 comments

Chad Anderson
Chad Ayesterday

Thank you.

SEND
heather g
heather g7 days ago

I should be OK with regular banana and avocados in my diet - also sweet potatoes

SEND
Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D11 days ago

Thankfully - no symptoms. Hopefully - no problems.

SEND
Caitlin L
Caitlin L12 days ago

Thank you for sharing

SEND
Richard E Cooley
Richard E Cooley14 days ago

Thank you.

SEND
John N
Daniel N16 days ago

Thanks

SEND
Mike R
Mike R17 days ago

Thanks

SEND
hELEN h
hELEN hEARFIELD20 days ago

tyfs

SEND
Angela K
Angela K26 days ago

Thanks for sharing

SEND
Ruth R
Ruth R27 days ago

Thank You.

SEND