Potassium is an essential mineral that provides many important benefits to your body’s overall health. Potassium is present in many foods and can be taken as a supplement. However, if you are not providing your body with enough potassium, this deficiency may lead to some health concerns.
Talk to your doctor to see if you are in fact low in potassium. From here they will be able to help you come up with a plan to getting healthy amounts of potassium into your diet.
Read on to learn more about the effects and warning signs of low potassium levels and why potassium is crucial for your health.
What Is Potassium?
Potassium is an essential mineral that helps your body regulate blood pressure. It also helps your body maintain bone and muscle strength. It supports heart health, regulates the balance of body fluids, and helps balance sodium levels. You need potassium for your nerves, muscles, and cells to operate correctly.1
Potassium is also an electrolyte. When it dissolves in bodily fluids (including blood and fluid within and around cells), it carries an electric charge.
In addition to helping regulate muscle and nerve functions, potassium helps maintain pH balance in your blood and proper water balance in your body.2, 3
Potassium often works in tandem with other important minerals. For example, your body’s blood pressure is regulated by calcium and magnesium.4 Meanwhile, sodium and potassium work together to help maintain your body’s fluid and blood volume.5
What Is Considered A Healthy Level of Potassium?
Each day, our bodies require a minimum of 100 milligrams of potassium in order for these important functions to operate correctly. The body’s normal blood potassium level is 3.5 to 5.0 milliEquivalents per liter.6
How Is Potassium Obtained?
Potassium may be obtained in several ways. You can obtain potassium by consuming foods that are rich in potassium. You may also meet your daily intake levels by taking supplements under the guidance of your doctor. Some salt substitutes also swap sodium chloride for potassium chloride. In these, potassium levels can vary. Always consult your doctor to determine the right course for you.
Which Foods Are Rich In Potassium?
If you’ve heard that bananas are a good source of potassium, you’ve heard correctly. However, other foods like apricots, lentils, and raisins contain even more potassium than bananas. If you have a weakness for prunes, you’re in luck: they contain very high amounts of potassium.
Many different foods contain high levels of potassium. In fact, your regular diet likely includes several of them. These foods include:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Kidney beans
- Whole-wheat flour
- Brown rice7
Low Potassium Levels: What To Know
When your body’s blood potassium levels are extremely low, the condition is known as hypokalemia. Severe potassium deficiency may lead to certain serious health conditions.
If you’re experiencing any signs and symptoms of low potassium, seek medical help immediately.8
What Are The Symptoms Of Low Potassium In The Body?
Potassium deficiency or low potassium levels in the body can trigger many different symptoms. If you’re experiencing low potassium levels, you aren’t alone.
Studies have revealed that the diet of the majority of Americans is too low in potassium and too high in sodium. And your body needs far more potassium than it does sodium each day.9
Here are some potential signs and symptoms of low potassium levels in the body:
- Shortness of breath
- Contracted blood vessels
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle stiffness and aches
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle weakness and fatigue
- Constipation and other digestive issues
- Paresthesia, or tingling and numbness in the extremities10
If you suspect you’re struggling with any of these issues, speak to your doctor — they may have some suggestions for supporting your health.
What Are Some Possible Causes Of Low Potassium In The Body?
The causes of low potassium in the body may vary. Always check with your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Potassium levels in the blood can be determined by taking a blood test administered by your doctor11
Low potassium levels may be caused by:
- Profuse sweating
- Excessive or severe vomiting
- Use of diuretics or other drugs that cause frequent urination
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Adrenal disorders
- Other rare disorders including Bartter syndrome
- A diet lacking in potassium content
- Certain eating disorders involving frequent purging or laxative abuse 13,14
How Can I Increase My Potassium Levels?
The benefits of maintaining a healthy potassium level are plentiful. Studies reveal that a high-potassium diet may support heart and blood pressure health.15
Here are some possible ways to increase your potassium levels. Remember to check with your doctor before making any of these changes to your diet.
Eat Foods That Are High In Potassium
It’s that simple. Most doctors agree that the healthiest way to increase potassium intake is to eat foods that are high in potassium content. Your doctor may also choose to prescribe you a potassium supplement.
Balance Your Sodium Intake
As potassium and sodium work together to support many bodily functions, one way to increase your potassium levels is to keep an eye on your sodium intake.18
Potassium is a key to many of your body’s important functions. Hypokalemia, or low potassium levels, can be caused by a number of deficiencies or irregularities. Regulating potassium levels is important in both men’s and women’s health. Studies suggest that potassium intake in women may be even more integral for healthy blood pressure.23,24
But no matter your gender, body, or background, there are many ways to maintain healthy levels of potassium. Talk to your doctor to find out the best way to ensure you’re getting the right amount of potassium in your body.
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