The World of Pregnancy

6 Signs You Are Experiencing a Deficiency of Potassium

Perhaps you know already that bananas are an essential source of potassium, but what you may not know is the vital role that the mineral has in your organism. Potassium regulates heartbeat, helps restore glycogen deposits after physical exercises, controls the contraction of muscles and protects the health of the nervous and cardiovascular system.

Signs Deficiency of Potassium

More than this, potassium accelerates dieresis and intervenes in the process of sodium removal – which is frequently in excess, therefore ensuring an efficient elimination of toxins and normal adrenal gland activity.

It also controls blood pressure and helps blood vessels to relax. According to a study that was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology a few years ago, a diet that is rich in potassium along with a reduction in sodium consumption may reduce the risk of stroke by almost 21% as well as reduce the risk of heart diseases.

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Potassium prevents vascular accidents, kidney stones and osteoporosis, being a great partner of calcium in maintaining the health of bone structure. Additionally, it has a vital role when treating allergies. Lauren Blake, from the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University, says: “If your diet is based on refined foods or from boxes, there are high chances for you to have a potassium deficiency. A diet that is rich in potassium

Recommended Potassium Daily Dose

A diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits is very important to reaching the daily dose of 4.700 mg recommended by experts. The recommended potassium daily dose is:

  • 400 mg for infants (0 to 6 months);
  • 700 mg for children (7 to 12 months);
  • 000 mg for children (1 to 3 years);
  • 800 mg for children (4 to 8 years);
  • 700 mg for children (9 to 13 years);
  • 500 mg for adolescents (14 to 18 years), adults and pregnant women;
  • 100 mg for breastfeeding women.

Potassium Deficiency

Potassium deficiency may be manifested by muscle cramps and weakness, heart rhythm and digestive disorders (bloating, constipation abdominal pains), fatigue, etc.

Read more on Iodine While Pregnant: What Is Its Role & Why Do Its Requirements Increase?

A low amount of potassium in blood leads to a medical condition known as hypokalemia. This affection may occur due to medication consumption, a disease or rarely due to insufficient food intake.

The causes of potassium deficiency include:

  • Magnesium deficiency;
  • Kidney illnesses (Bartter syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome, Liddle`s syndrome);
  • Excessive sweating, diarrhea, prolonged vomiting;
  • Alcoholism;
  • Diuretic, antibiotic, laxative administration.

When potassium deficiency is mild, the symptoms might be absent. That is why it is essential to go to a specialist if you think you may suffer from such a deficiency. Hypokalemia is diagnosed by assessing the potassium level in the blood. In the light forms of the deficiency, a diet that is rich in this mineral might be advised, and in the most severe forms, the specialist will recommend potassium supplements.

When a medium or severe hypokalemia is involved, there are the most obvious symptoms:

You Feel Tired All the Time

If you feel you are always tired and don`t have enough energy, you may feel like this due to a potassium deficiency. Every cell from your organism needs potassium to function. If you are feeling tired all the time although you get enough rest, lack of potassium might be the reason. Also, stress, lack of sleep or an unhealthy diet may cause chronic fatigue, so don`t hurry to draw the conclusion that a deficiency of potassium may be the reason before talking to a doctor.

You Have Muscle Spasms

This mineral plays a vital role in muscle contraction, which includes heart muscles. Therefore, muscle spasms are signs that outline the lack of this mineral. A serious deficiency of potassium won`t only affect the smooth muscle functioning, but may even lead to the muscle tissue destruction, causing rhabdomyolysis.

You Feel Weak or Dizzy

The levels of potassium might vary during a day, and a high decrease might slow your heartbeat, leading to fainting that is caused by low blood pressure. This isn`t a frequent reaction, and other factors might be triggered, but it`s essential to go to a medical consultation. Numbness, tingling and hotness in the feet and hands are another symptom which you shouldn`t ignore.

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A deficiency of potassium is very dangerous for the health of the kidneys, leading to large water losses through the kidneys and leading to frequent urination. A permanent thirst is another consequence of frequent urination that is caused by a deficiency of potassium in the organism.

Hypertension & Palpitations

With a sufficient amount of this mineral, the blood vessels may get damaged, leading to hypertension. Palpitations are among the most important signs of deficiency of potassium in the organism, affecting heart rhythmical contractions and causing accelerated beatings.

You Always Feel Bloated

When a deficiency of this mineral occurs, the organism attempts to regulate the level of sodium and affects the stomach and intestine muscles, which causes cramping, bloating, constipation or abdominal pains.

Best Sources of Potassium

Potassium can be found in a large amount in vegetables and fruits, such as: bananas, tomatoes, spinach, potatoes, dried apricots, plums, almonds, mango, sunflower seeds, raisins, sardines, salmon or cod. For instance, an average banana contains around 450 mg of potassium, and a baked potato with shell contains 930 mg.

Be Careful!

  • The level of potassium from the body decreases when we consume alcohol, coffee or sugar in excess, as well as white bread or refined sweets.
  • Due to the strong secondary effects, supplements that contain a higher amount of 100 mg/tablet of potassium should be taken only with the doctor`s approval.
Image courtesy of slideshare.net
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