Several individuals are unaware of the need for Potassium. It is the third most abundant mineral in the body, which plays a vital role in regulating fluid balance and sending the signals of nerve and muscle contractions. Potassium-rich food is beneficial for your health in many ways. These foods help to reduce blood pressure, protect against stroke and prevent kidney stones. It is said that 80% of Potassium is found in your muscle cells, and 20% of the nutrient can be found in the liver, bones, and red blood cells. It acts as an electrolyte inside your body.
Causes of Low Potassium
When the potassium level drops in your body, this condition is known as hypokalemia. There are many reasons for the low amount of this nutrient in the body. Some of the common causes of low potassium levels are
- kidney disease
- some diuretics
- excessive sweating
- use of some antibiotics
- Adrenal disorders
- Low magnesium levels
Symptoms of Potassium Deficiency
There are many ways to determine if the potassium level drops in your body. By identifying some of the symptoms, you can determine whether the potassium level has dropped or not in your body
Since Potassium maintains the fluid balance in your body and retains water, constipation is the first sign of low potassium level. When Potassium decreases, your body cannot retain water, resulting in constipation.
2. Muscle Weakness
Potassium is necessary for muscle contractions and strengthens them. When you have a low amount of potassium in your body, your muscle power becomes weak. You may even suffer muscle cramps in your legs or arms due to the low potassium levels. It can also lead to paralysis of the muscle.
Since potassium plays a crucial role in regulating the function of cells and tissues when you have a low potassium level, your bodily function gets affected, which leads to low energy, therefore, you feel tired.
4. Problems in Breathing
To breathe correctly, you require some muscles, including the diaphragm. If potassium drops severely in your body, you will face serious breathing problems. You will have difficulty taking deep breaths, or may also experience shortness of breath.
5. Increase in Blood Pressure
Potassium helps to relax the blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure. A higher amount of sodium leads to high blood pressure. Since potassium balances the sodium levels in the body, your blood pressure will also be under control. If you have a tendency to have high blood pressure, you should lower your sodium intake and increase your Potassium intake.
Benefits of Adequate Level of Potassium
There are many benefits of this nutrient. Some of these benefits have been discussed below:
1. Regulates Fluid Balance
Our body consists of 60% water. 40% of the water is present in our cells, called intracellular fluid. The remaining portion of water is found outside of cells, including blood, spinal fluid, and between cells. The amount of water in our body is affected by potassium and sodium, which act as electrolytes. Potassium is our body’s primary electrolyte, which determines the amount of water inside the cells.
2. Regulates the Functioning of the Nervous System
The nervous system sends signals via synapses to the brain. These signals help regulate muscle contraction and control heartbeat and other body functions. These signals are formed with the help of nerve impulses. The presence of Potassium in the blood helps to generate nerve impulses. Therefore, an adequate level of this mineral in your body helps to maintain good nerve function.
3. Reduces Blood Pressure
An adequate level of this nutrient in the body helps to regulate sodium in the body. By increasing potassium intake, people with high blood pressure can keep their blood pressure under control. By consuming potassium food, you can also reduce the risk of stroke.
4. Prevents Kidney Stone
When calcium increases in urine, you are at risk of kidney stones. According to a study, potassium lowers the amount of urinary calcium excretion. Thus, you can prevent kidney stones with the help of high potassium intake.
When Should You Visit a Doctor?
When any of the symptoms mentioned above is visible in your body and persists for a more extended time period, you should contact your doctor. For example, if you experience muscle paralysis, difficulty in breathing, or unusual heart rhythm, you should immediately visit your doctor and get your potassium level tested. Your doctor will diagnose the low level of Potassium by prescribing you some medications and a diet containing Potassium. The first step to diagnosing low potassium is to test your blood sample, and the doctor will also examine your history or medications to determine the underlying low potassium factors. After determining the level, the doctor will also recommend you to go through a further blood test to check the level of electrolytes, including phosphorous, calcium, and magnesium.
Treatment for Low Potassium Symptoms in the Body
The type of treatment to regain optimum health depends on the symptoms in a person’s body, and it will also depend on how low the level of potassium is in their body.
The doctor may recommend the following things to recover from low Potassium:
- Taking daily Potassium supplements
- Reducing the dosage of medicine that causes deficiency of Potassium
- Having a potassium-rich diet
- Taking medications that increase the level of Potassium in the body.
Food with High Potassium Levels
This nutrient is available in a wide range of food, including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and meats. To increase the level of the nutrient, you should eat potassium-rich food. A list of food sources containing a good amount of the nutrient has been given below:
- Cooked lentils
- Dried prunes
- Orange juice
- Cooked brown rice
- Coconut water
- Dry fruits
The body can absorb 85-90% of this nutrient from food sources. But an excessive amount of this nutrient may also lead to other problems. So always try to maintain a healthy balance. Many seniors are suffering from low amounts this nutrient in their bodies. Due to this, they suffer from many diseases like high blood pressure, heart problem, kidney stone, etc. To prevent these illnesses, you should consume potassium-rich food.
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Since you have become aware of the benefits of high potassium intake, you should eat potassium-enriched foodto prevent diseases that are associated with the low level of Potassium in your body. It would be best to connect with the doctor whenever you notice any low potassium symptoms before the problem becomes more serious. You should follow your doctor’s suggestions if you suffer from potassium deficiency.
Low potassium levels may cause difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis, irregular heartbeat, and fatigue.
To increase Potassium, you will have to eat potassium-rich meals, including foods like dry fruits, oranges, meat, banana, and other fruits and vegetables.
Potassium reduces blood pressure, prevents stroke and kidney stone, increase energy, and regulates the nervous system and muscle contraction.
Low potassium symptoms are constipation, fatigue, high blood pressure, muscle weakness, problems in breathing, etc.
When you suffer from a deficiency of potassium, the doctor will suggest a blood test. If the report shows a deficiency of Potassium, you will be prescribed medication based on how low your Potassium is.