Top Symptoms of Having Low Potassium

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Is potassium deficiency your concern? Today, we are going to talk about low potassium and its symptoms, so you can assess if you really lack this mineral in your body.

In this article:

  1. What Is Potassium?
  2. Potassium Deficiency Is Common in Most People
  3. What Causes Low Potassium?
  4. Symptoms of Potassium Deficiency

What You Should Know About Potassium Deficiency


What Is Potassium?

Potassium is an electrolyte reactive in water as it creates positively charged ions. This process allows it to conduct electricity that plays an important role in many body processes, such as regulating muscle contraction, sending nerve signals, and regulating fluid. You can find about 98% of this mineral in your cells, 80% in the muscle cells, and 20% in your red blood, liver, and bone cells.

Potassium is also necessary for the digestion, break down, and build up of protein. When people lose their hair and eat just protein hoping to grow their hair back, without potassium, it's not going to work. A low amount of potassium can significantly affect these processes in the body.


Potassium Deficiency Is Common in Most People

Food containing magnesium and potassium | The Top Symptoms Of A Potassium Deficiency

Potassium is probably the number one deficiency in most people, but it's the hardest to detect because when you take a blood test, most of the potassium is inside the cells, and it's not going to show up unless the deficiency is really extreme. You must undergo an intra-cellular test if you really want to check your potassium levels. It's a very sophisticated type of test. People don't really ask for it, and some doctors probably don't even know about.


What Causes Low Potassium?

The following are the causes of low potassium levels you should take note of:

1. Vomiting or Bulimic

If you are sick and vomiting or suffering from bulimia, then this may cause low levels of potassium because you are letting the nutrient come out from your body through vomiting, for example.

Bulimia Nervosa Definition: A serious eating disorder determined by a cycle of compensatory behaviors and bingeing to undo binge eating effects.

2. Not Taking Enough Nutrients from Your Diet

Lovely interracial couple having lunch at a restaurant | The Top Symptoms Of A Potassium Deficiency

Another reason is when you are not eating enough nutrients in your diet. You might say you eat bananas, but the fruit only has 300 mg, and you need 4,700 mg of daily intake. That means you might consume 11 or more bananas daily. You may get potassium from vegetables like salads, instead, and you need 7-10 cups. If you don't like salads, take kale with a few berries and water and then blend them. You will feel a lot better with the diet I suggested because if you're doing the Atkins diet, which is a high-protein meal plan, you'll definitely need potassium.

3. Ketosis

Ketosis is another reason, and it is a state of fat burning where you are eating more fat and a few carbs. This can lead to a lack of potassium. Just make sure you have enough vegetables or leafy greens to help balance potassium levels and ketosis.

4. Blood Pressure Medications

If you are in diuretics where you are taking blood pressure medications, you are going to deplete your potassium and keep the blood pressure at a certain level. The medication primarily helps you remove sodium and water by urinating. Some diuretics can cause you to remove even more potassium. Just make sure your medication is not pulling out the mineral.

5. High Cortisol Levels

Desperate woman suffering from stress | The Top Symptoms Of A Potassium Deficiency

Having high cortisol is also another reason. Stress can cause potassium depletion. In fact, I've had people who did advanced testing on their body's potassium levels, and they were eating a tremendous amount of foods rich in potassium. Because they are under great stress, their potassium stays low. So, when you are under stress, you even need more potassium.

6. Sugar or High Fat Storing Hormone

Sugar or high Fat Storing Hormone also causes low potassium as there is a relationship between sugar, blood sugar, diabetes, and potassium. You can even feel it with your heartbeat as it starts to go fast.

7. Drinking Too Much Water

Drinking too much water is also another cause. When you drink too much water, a condition where there is a dilution of all the electrolytes develops, and your heart starts to go out of balance, which can trigger a heart attack. You only want to drink water when you feel thirsty, so you don't flush out all the electrolytes. I like to flavor my water with lemon, a little bit of balsamic vinegar, or stevia.


Symptoms of Potassium Deficiency

I like to talk to you about the symptoms of low potassium content so you know if you are deficient of the mineral or not. Here's what to check:

1. Increase in Blood Pressure

One of the signs of low potassium is high blood pressure because the mineral is a physiological relaxer. It's a tranquilizer that calms things down, so when potassium is too low or you experience hypokalemia, blood pressure can rise.

2. Muscle Cramps

Runner suffering from leg cramp on the track | The Top Symptoms Of A Potassium Deficiency

You can also experience muscle cramps because the mineral is an electrolyte. This means your muscle function and nerve reactions depend on the proper exchange of electrolyte ions in and out of the cells. When there is potassium deficiency or when you have low potassium intake, you may experience muscle dysfunction, such as cramps.

3. Sugar Craving

Sugar craving is also another symptom of potassium deficiency. Potassium helps you store sugar, so when there is not enough of it in the body, sugar cravings increase.

4. Constipation

You may also suffer from constipation. The mineral aids in relaying signals from the brain to the muscles in the digestive system. These muscles support in stimulating contractions that help digest food. So, when potassium is low, the brain cannot release signals properly.

5. High Fat Storing Hormone Levels

Test For Diabetes | The Top Symptoms Of A Potassium Deficiency

High Fat Storing Hormone is also one. There's a relationship between blood sugar and potassium, as mentioned earlier. In fact, when you have enough potassium, the need for Fat Storing Hormone goes down. So, I always recommend potassium for diabetic clients.

6. Muscle Weakness

Muscle weakness is a symptom of low potassium as well. You can have this unexplainable muscle weakness not knowing why because your body needs electrolytes to help the muscles contract. That's why you can experience an abnormal heartbeat because the heart is a muscle.

7. Anxiety and Sleeping Problems

Anxiety and sleeping problems are other symptoms of potassium deficiency. Potassium is something that helps you calm down, so when it's low, you'll likely suffer from anxiety and many sleeping issues.

If you're doing something that does not involve enough potassium, like a diet, you can start manifesting a lot of these symptoms.

I wanted to discuss all of the things about potassium deficiency, so you can start thinking about it. If you have these symptoms, then you know you have low potassium, and you can start eating potassium-rich foods to normalize the mineral level in your body.

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

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