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Signs You Are Not Getting Enough Potassium


6. Mental or Emotional Issues


Potassium is important for mental health and brain function. It helps maintain the electrical conductivity of the brain and nerve transmissions.

Plus, it plays a key role in transporting serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of well-being and happiness. This is why a low potassium level can contribute to confusion, mood swings, depression, hallucinations and delirium.

A 1992 article published in Neuropsychobiology reported a relationship between sodium, magnesium and potassium in depressed patients.

Another 2009 study published in General Hospital Psychiatry reports that hypokalemia can result in depression.

7. Constipation


The mineral potassium is important for the digestive system, which is made of smooth muscles that contract rhythmically to aid digestion of food.

Low blood levels of potassium can disrupt the functions of the involuntary muscles of the stomach and intestines.

Proper functioning of these muscles is needed for digestion, absorption and metabolism to occur. Poor functioning can lead to constipation.

Apart from constipation, there may also be symptoms like abdominal bloating, pain and cramping.

As constipation can be caused by a number of problems, talk with your doctor to rule out the possibility of a nutritional deficiency such as potassium.

8. High Blood Pressure

high blood pressure

Potassium helps relax blood vessels, and without enough of it, they can become constricted, which causes blood pressure to rise. Potassium also balances out the negative effects of sodium.

When potassium is low, the balance of sodium in the body gets disturbed. This can also affect your blood pressure.

A 2008 study published in the American Society of Nephrology reports that low levels of potassium in the diet may be as important as high levels of sodium, especially among African Americans who suffer from high blood pressure.

According to this study, the relationship between low potassium and high blood pressure remained significant even when age, race and other cardiovascular risk factors (high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking) were taken into account.

Apart from low potassium and high sodium intake, many other factors contribute to high blood pressure. Hence, it is best to have your doctor determine what is causing the problem. Very low levels of potassium, however, may lead to low blood pressure and fainting.

Tips to correct a potassium deficiency

The best solution is to get this mineral from natural fruits. Some of the best sources are bananas, avocados, strawberries, oranges, mangoes, kiwis, apricots and dates.

Vegetables high in beta-carotene also contain a good amount of potassium. Some examples are carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard and red peppers.

Fish, such as sardines and salmon, also contain plenty of this mineral.

Gradually include more potassium-rich foods in your diet each day until you are getting the recommended amount. It is best not to try to compensate for a potassium shortage all in one day.

If you opt to take a supplement, always consult your doctor first.

When your potassium level is low, avoid long, strenuous physical activities to prevent further loss of potassium through sweating.

To fight this mineral deficiency, it is important to address the cause, such as improving your diet, treating diarrhea or consulting your doctor if a medication is at the root of the problem.

Too much potassium is also not good for your health, especially for the kidneys. People suffering from diabetes or heart failure are more at risk of developing this problem.

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