Symptoms of Low Potassium

By Doris Temple

Few people recognize the symptoms of low potassium. That is because few of us know the role potassium plays in health.

Every living cell, whether plant, animal or human needs potassium.

It is in plants and animals. Which leads to the assumption that since it is everywhere-we get enough. Never considering the potassium deficiency symptoms or causes of loss of potassium.

The symptoms of low potassium are:

  • low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • low blood potassium (hypokalemia)
  • sciatica
  • leg cramps
  • muscle weakness
  • paralysis
  • confusion
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • water retention (edema)
  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • cardiac arrest

To understand these symptoms let's look at the function of potassium:

  • maintains fluid balance
  • maintains pH balance
  • needed for cell integrity
  • needed for production of protein
  • needed for muscle contractions
  • needed for transmission of nerve impulses

Deficiencies can result from diet. The body maintains a potassium to salt ratio. So a diet with high salt content will through off this balance.

Dehydration is another cause of low potassium. Athletes know they must replace salt in high temperatures. But potassium is also an electrolyte that is lost in sweating.

My first marathon was in 32 degree Celsius. At the end I had edema and temporary paralysis of my hands. I received medical aid at the finish line. Now, I recognize this to be one of the symptoms of low potassium. Preventable with a potassium supplement; one that also contains a balance with other minerals and vitamins.

The role in nerve function and muscle contraction can explain the heart disease related symptoms; the heart must contract.

Potassium losses result from dehydration, high salt intake, high sugar intake, stress, and drugs (ACTH, cortisone and non-potassium sparing diuretics).

We can also add to the list, fast weight loss. This is because with fast weight loss the first to go is fluid-not fat.

Foods high in potassium include legumes, baked potatoes, bananas and citrus fruits.

Avoid processed foods. These contain a high salt content that in turn disrupts the potassium to sodium ratio. A diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables contains enough potassium for most people. Discuss with your doctor your symptoms of low potassium as it relates to heart disease or exercise level.

Doris Temple
Article by Doris Temple
Doris Temple created to fill the need for unbiased information. The Website provides information about organic food, products and healthy nutrition. Sign up for a free monthly email newsletter (ezine) to get the answers you need and keep updated:

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