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7 Signs Your Body Is Not Getting Enough Potassium

7 Signs Your Body Is Not Getting Enough Potassium

Potassium is an integral mineral when it comes to sending signals from any part of the body to the brain. So how do we know what's wrong?

Potassium is a mineral that is present in the food you eat but more importantly, it's an electrolyte that helps conduct electrical impulses all throughout your body. Food like apricots, bananas, kiwi, oranges, pineapples, leafy greens, carrots, potatoes, lean meat, whole grains, beans, and nuts are some daily foods nutritious in this mineral. And for people who have a well-balanced diet generally get enough potassium.

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It's essential to understand that we do not produce our own potassium so we need to get it from elsewhere especially since it helps sends electrical signals through our nerve endings and helps in transporting nutrients, increasing kidney function and regulating levels of sodium. 

So what happens when you aren't getting enough of the mineral? A deficiency of potassium is called hypokalemia.

There are certain conditions which can cause hypokalemia such as kidney disease, overuse of diuretics, excess sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, magnesium deficiency or use of antibiotics, such as carbenicillin and penicillin. Depending on how severe the deficiency is, the symptoms change accordingly.

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Activities like a hard workout can cause your potassium levels to drop but it's almost negligible and can be restored with a meal or having an electrolytic drink after it. Then, there is no damage or harm done. How do you know that you may be a suffering a deficiency though? Here are some of the symptoms of a potassium deficiency and it is advised that if you experience one or more of these symptoms, to immediately consult a doctor.

1. You feel weak and fatigued

You know that sometimes you have those days where you know you've been sleeping enough but when you wake up, you don't feel refreshed. In fact, the entire day you feel tired and sluggish. If this happens to you, it is important that you immediately have it checked out. While it could be nothing, it could also mean that you are facing the issue of potassium deficiency. Weakness and fatigue are usually the first indicators of hypokalemia.

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Since it is an electrolyte, it helps regulate muscle contractions and due to its function of helping the signals pass through the body, it helps in maintaining how the body uses nutrients. But if it is absent, there is nothing to tell the body what nutrients to use and when so tiredness starts to set in.

2. Your heartbeat is irregular

Even normally, an irregular heartbeat is a cause for concern. However, in this case, since potassium regulates muscle and the heart is a muscle, if the mineral isn't being supplied, it could cause the heart to beat at erratic paces. Heart palpitations are generally not too serious but it could very quickly turn into arrhythmia which is actually extremely life-threatening. So if you have no medical history of cardiovascular issues in your family or have never felt this before, consult a doctor about whether it is a potassium deficiency or an equally devastating health issue. 

3. Your muscles cramp up, spasm, and become stiff

Without potassium to help aid the neurons spread their electrical impulses to the muscles and other organs, your muscles become stiff. You also get severe cramps and your arm or leg, start to spasm uncontrollably. Withing the muscle cells, the potassium relays signals from the brain that stimulate contractions. It also helps in giving a command to end those contractions. However, if the level of potassium become very low, then the signals are not transferred effectively which ends up with you holding your arm or your leg because the cramp is too long. 

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4. You have trouble breathing

Potassium aids in the lung's ability to contract and expand. It's why we are able to take long breaths and be able to feel like we've filled our lungs. When there are very low levels of potassium in the body, the lungs aren't able to take in are properly. This could result to shortness of breath and in a worst case scenario, could effectively stop the lungs from working completely. If potassium is not fed to the person in time, due to the pressure on their lungs, they might not be able to live longer, because how much can anyone go without air. 

5. You have a tingling and numbing feeling

If you sit down for too long, when you get up, there's this odd sensation in your foot. You don't know how, but it feels like static from a T.V. It hurts a lot and you can't move your leg at all because it would cause a whole new pins-and-needles sensation. This is another symptom of potassium deficiency. Through research, it has been found that potassium helps keep your nerves healthy. So when you start to feel this, consult a doctor. 

6. You have mood swings

Though this is one of the lesser known symptoms, potassium deficiencies have been connected to mood changes and mental fatigue. If there is low potassium in the body, the signals that are sent to the brain for optimal usage may be disrupted an distorted.

In a study conducted, it was found that out of a sample, about 20% of the patients participating who had mental disorders actually also suffered from potassium deficiencies. Due to these signals going wonky or not reaching the correct organ, your mood can change drastically and the balance of hormones in your body will constantly be changing. However, there haven't been very many studies on this connection so it is still best to visit a doctor.

7. You feel dizzy and have high blood pressure

High blood pressure can be caused by a variety of reasons. Large consumptions of salt and being overweight can affect how your blood pressure is. Since potassium negates the harmful effects of sodium, they both can affect your blood pressure. But it's more important to eat more potassium-rich food as compared to salt. Seeing as this mineral can help relax blood vessels, without it, the vessels just become more constricted. This causes the blood pressure to rise. As a result, dizziness will accompany wherever you. Get it treated now before it turns any worse. 

Potassium is one of the most important minerals in our body and in order to live a longer life, it's important that make sure it is present in the right amounts. Don't ignore these signs because any one of these symptoms could turn ugly and create a ton of health issues. Visit your doctor today. 

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.