Low Potassium Symptoms? Top 8 Signs You Need To Boost Potassium

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

Potassium is a crucial mineral for your heart health and overall well-being, yet it’s all too often forgotten in your daily diet. This nutrient is truly the quiet hero of your body, playing a vital role in keeping your heart beating steadily, and your muscles moving smoothly.

Low Potassium Symptoms? Top 8 Signs You Need to Boost Potassium

Many of us don’t fully realize just how essential this mineral is, until we learn about the myriad ways it supports our bodily functions.

In today’s video, we’ll explore the role that potassium plays in your health, and what happens to your body when your potassium levels are too low. We’ll also look at why so many people are deficient in potassium, and the best foods you can eat to boost your potassium levels.

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Knowing about potassium can make a BIG difference to your health, so keep watching till the end.

First, did you know that 50% to 98% of people are not getting the recommended three thousand five hundred to four thousand seven hundred milligrams of potassium per day? This widespread deficiency is making medical professionals concerned, as the number of cases of people with low potassium levels, or hypokalemia, are on the rise.

This is happening, mainly because people are eating too many ultra-processed foods, which are seriously lacking in essential nutrients, like potassium. To make these processed foods last longer on the shelves, and taste better, manufacturers often add extra salt. The problem is, extra salt can cause you to lose even more potassium from your body.

Now, to understand why potassium deficiency is problematic, you need to know how potassium keeps your body functioning at its absolute best.

First, potassium acts as a natural pacemaker, helping to keep your heart beating at a steady rate and rhythm. It also helps keep your blood pressure in check, by acting as an electrolyte along with sodium, to balance the fluids in your cells.

Potassium is also a key player in nerve signaling, allowing your brain and nerves to communicate seamlessly. And it’s indispensable when it comes to powering the muscle contractions that enable your movement.

Furthermore, this mineral helps to make proteins and break down carbohydrates for energy. In short, potassium helps your body operate at peak performance across the board. Now, what are the consequences if you are deficient in potassium?

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Let’s look at the EIGHT signs and symptoms of low potassium levels, or hypokalemia.

Hypokalemia is defined as a potassium level below 3.5 millimoles per liter, with severe cases occurring when levels drop below 2.5 millimoles per liter.

The first symptom is, Number 8. “Muscle Weakness and Cramps.”

When your body’s potassium balance drops too low, the first telltale sign is often a creeping sense of muscle weakness – which causes difficulty when walking or holding objects.

Also, your muscles can twitch or cramp up unexpectedly. These painful spasms, often referred to as “charley horses,” tend to strike most frequently in the legs.

For athletes who sweat out massive amounts of electrolytes during intense workouts, a lack of potassium can make it harder for the muscles to contract properly, and reduces blood flow to the muscles. In severe cases, this electrolyte depletion can trigger a dangerous condition called rhabdomyolysis, where your muscle tissue starts to rapidly break down, often resulting in kidney damage.

The next sign is, Number 7. “High Blood Pressure.”

Striking the right balance between potassium and sodium is crucial for your heart health.

When you indulge in too many salty, processed foods, your sodium levels get too high, and your potassium levels fall too low. This puts immense strain on your blood vessels and sends your blood pressure soaring – increasing the risk for stroke.

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Experts recommend aiming for a sodium-to-potassium ratio of around 1 to 3, with potassium intake about three times higher than sodium. Potassium acts as a natural diuretic, flushing excess sodium from your body, and counteracting its heart-damaging effects. Plus, potassium has a relaxing effect on your blood vessel walls, which helps to lower your high blood pressure.

The next sign is, Number 6. “Irregular Heartbeat.”

If your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering, throbbing, or racing, it could be a sign of a potassium deficiency.

While the occasional heart palpitation is common and usually harmless, a moderate to severe imbalance in this essential mineral can trigger a dangerous irregular heartbeat, or cardiac arrhythmia – especially for those with pre-existing heart conditions.

In fact, research reveals that 7 to 17% of cardiovascular patients also suffer from hypokalemia.

Don’t ignore erratic changes in your heartbeat – see a doctor immediately. Irregular rhythms can be extremely dangerous, as they can potentially lead to cardiac arrest- a life-threatening condition where the heart suddenly stops pumping blood, causing you to lose consciousness.

Coming in at Number 5, we have, “Unexplained Fatigue.”

Every cell in your body requires the right amount of potassium to function optimally. When your potassium levels fall out of balance, it can result in an overwhelming feeling of fatigue. This can leave you feeling weak, sluggish, and completely drained of energy.

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Now, fatigue can stem from a wide array of potential causes, such as dehydration, medication, or certain health conditions, so it’s challenging to pinpoint the exact cause.

But if you’re getting plenty of rest and sleep, yet still find yourself struggling to muster the motivation to tackle your daily tasks, there’s a good chance your potassium levels are the culprit. The first step is to examine your diet and ensure you’re consuming enough potassium-rich fruits and veggies.

The next symptom is, Number 4. “Digestive Problems.”

Potassium is essential for relaying signals from the brain to the muscles lining your gut, stimulating the powerful contractions that propel food through your digestive tract (peristalsis).

But when potassium levels are too low, the brain’s seamless communication with these muscles starts to break down, and your digestive system cannot do their job properly. This can result in weaker contractions, slower food movement, and issues like constipation.

In severe potassium deficiency, the intestinal muscles may stop working entirely, resulting in more serious problems such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, bloating, and abdominal pain.

Next, at Number 3 we have, “Tingling and Numbness.”

When your potassium levels plummet, the delicate nerve pathways that allow you to feel, move, and function with ease, become weakened and disrupted.

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This can lead to a persistent, prickling sensation of tingling and numbness, that creeps into your hands, arms, legs, and feet; this condition is known as paresthesia.

Now, the occasional tingle after sitting in an awkward position is nothing to worry about. But if these aggravating sensations linger on, it’s best to seek attention from a medical professional.

The next symptom is, Number 2. “Frequent Urination.”

If you are constantly low in potassium, it can trigger a cycle of kidney-related issues:

The electrolyte deficiency impairs your kidneys’ ability to concentrate urine. As a result, your kidneys produce larger volumes of diluted urine. This causes you to urinate more frequently, a condition known as polyuria.

This water loss then triggers an unquenchable thirst, leading you to drink more fluids, which further increases urination. Left untreated, this cycle of polyuria and electrolyte imbalances can impair kidney function, and potentially result in kidney failure, especially for those with pre-existing kidney disease.

And at Number 1, we have, “Breathing Difficulties.”

If potassium deficiency becomes severe, it can affect your breathing in three ways:

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First, potassium helps relay the signals that stimulate your lungs to contract and expand properly. If potassium levels drop low enough, this signaling is disrupted, and your lungs cannot function normally; this leads to shortness of breath.

Second, hypokalemia can weaken the very muscles responsible for powering your respiration, including the diaphragm, making it more difficult to breathe normally.

Third, low potassium can cause an irregular heartbeat, which reduces oxygen delivery to the body; this contributes to breathing difficulties.

In especially severe cases, dangerously low potassium levels, could potentially stop the lungs from functioning altogether, leading to fatal consequences.

Next, if potassium is so important, why don’t we hear more about it?

This is because potassium often gets overshadowed by its well-known counterpart, magnesium.

While magnesium receives a lot of attention for its muscle, nerve, and heart health benefits, the reality is that potassium and magnesium work together as a dynamic duo to maintain a steady and strong heartbeat. Magnesium helps potassium enter your heart cells, and without magnesium, potassium would not be able to do its job properly.

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This close relationship between the two minerals is highlighted by the fact that, 50% of people with a potassium deficiency also have a magnesium deficiency. And, magnesium deficiency can also cause potassium deficiency.

Which brings us to the next question: What causes potassium deficiency?

It’s important to note that hypokalemia is usually not due to NOT getting enough potassium in the diet alone.

There are often other factors involved, like:

  • Excessive fluid loss, such as from severe diarrhea, vomiting, or excessive sweating;
  • Malnutrition, whether due to poor dietary intake or malabsorption issues;
  • Conditions that cause shock, such as severe bleeding or sepsis;
  • Certain medications, including diuretics, laxatives, and some antibiotics;
  • Medical conditions, that affect the kidneys and adrenal glands.

If your blood potassium level drops below the 3.5 millimoles per liter threshold, it’s important to address the root cause immediately to prevent potentially serious complications.

Next, how can you check your potassium levels?

To get a comprehensive understanding of your body’s potassium levels, a simple blood test will not give a complete picture. Standard lab tests can only provide a general snapshot. This is because 90% of the body’s potassium is found within the cells themselves, rather than circulating in the bloodstream.

To really see what’s going on, doctors need to look at the potassium levels inside your actual cells, by doing a intracellular potassium measurement test. By assessing your intracellular potassium, your doctor can detect deficiencies earlier and more accurately than standard serum testing alone.

Next, how can you treat hypokalemia?

If you have moderate to severe hypokalemia, your doctor will suggest oral supplementation, or intravenous therapy to restore your potassium levels, and also check your magnesium levels.

For mild hypokalemia, eating potassium-rich foods can help restore your potassium levels. But if you have a medical condition, or are taking certain medications, your doctor may recommend a potassium supplement.

Next, what are the potassium-rich foods that can help reduce blood pressure?

To get the recommended 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day, the best way is to load up on a variety of fruits and vegetables. While bananas are a classic potassium-rich food, there are plenty of other great options too.

You can find plenty of potassium in whole, natural foods like Swiss chard, spinach, avocado, sweet potato, bok choy, potato, white beans, beets, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, watermelon, tomato, salmon, beef, blueberries, mushrooms, okra, pistachio, almonds, cashews, milk, yogurt, and lentils.

Eating a mix of potassium-packed foods throughout the day is a delicious and nutritious way to meet your daily needs.

Finally, let’s summarize the TEN health benefits of getting enough potassium in your diet:

One. Helps maintain healthy sodium levels – This balance is key for blood pressure regulation.

Two. Supports converting carbs into energy – Potassium powers your cells to use carbs efficiently.

Three. Keeps your heart beating steadily – Adequate potassium reduces your risk of irregular heartbeats and stroke.

Four. Lowers your blood pressure naturally – Potassium counteracts the effects of sodium to bring your levels down.

Five. Builds and protects your bones – Potassium helps prevent bone loss and osteoporosis.

Six. Nourishes your nervous system – This mineral is essential for proper nerve and muscle function.

Seven. Prevents painful kidney stones – Potassium helps stop the formation of stones.

Eight. Reduces water retention and cramps – This electrolyte regulates fluid balance in your body.

Nine. Supports overall muscle health – Potassium keeps your muscles working at their best.

Ten. Helps prevent type 2 diabetes – By improving insulin sensitivity.

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