The organism is a well-lubricated mechanism where different micro- and macro-elements are in a harmonic interaction. The deficiency of one of them causes an imbalance that occurs in various symptoms.
Potassium is one of the most important macroelements. The lack of potassium destroys the whole body. That is why it is extremely important to maintain its normal levels. In this article, we will show you the most common symptoms of potassium deficiency and what foods rich in potassium can compensate for it.
Potassium and its importance to the body
Usually, we associate potassium with bananas because we know that this yellow fruit contains it in large quantities. What is the biological role of potassium in the body, are there symptoms of potassium deficiency?
Potassium is an electrolyte, a positively charged ion. Electrolytes are charged with minerals that are present in all body fluids. They carry electricity, transmit electrical impulses, which are essential for the normal functioning of the heart, muscles, and nerves. They maintain the fluid balance and many functions of the internal organs. Lack of potassium is tantamount to serious health problems.
The potassium content of the body is inversely proportional to the amount of sodium: more sodium, less potassium, and vice versa. For normal cell life, sodium is also needed. But its excessive quantity has a negative impact on our health. We all know, for example, that excess sodium causes an increase in blood pressure.
Functions of potassium in the body:
- Protective material for muscle and muscle tissue
- The stabilizer of heart rate
- Maintains the normal pH
- Supplying nutrients to the cells
- Regulates fluid balance in the body
The lack of potassium in the body is mostly due to improper and unbalanced eating or the use of a large number of salty foods.
Other possible factors for potassium deficiency are:
- Kidney disease
- Taking certain medicines, such as diuretics or antibiotics
- Dehydration due to excessive sweating, diarrhea or vomiting
- Magnesium deficiency
Since potassium in the body in sufficient quantity is very important for normal functioning, it is necessary to determine the symptoms of potassium deficiency in order to maintain an optimal level of this mineral.
Symptoms of potassium deficiency in the body
1. Constant fatigue
Do you feel tired, exhausted all the time, do not you have enough energy to do your usual job and you lose interest in everything? The reason for this condition may be a lack of potassium. Potassium provides water and electrolyte balance in the body, produces energy, regulates its use, and transfers it to cells.
2. Increased blood pressure
Potassium is located inside the cell, it relaxes blood vessels. Sodium is a potassium antagonist. It keeps the water in the body. If there is a deficiency of potassium in the body, sodium immediately builds up, which increases the water content of the body and hence the blood pressure.
Excess blood pressure is a precursor to cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, decreased libido, and neurological disease.
3. Muscle weakness, cramps, and cramps
Potassium provides normal muscle work. More physical exercise – higher potassium loss. Therefore, before and after an intensive workout, it will not be unnecessary to fill the body’s electrolyte stores.
4. Cardiac arrhythmia
The heart is a very powerful muscle that is never at rest. Potassium is especially important for the functioning of the heart as it is a conductor of electrical impulses that regulate contractions of the heart muscle. Prolonged lack of potassium may cause heart failure, which occurs as an arrhythmia or a rapid heartbeat.
The ability of the heart to contract and relax is determined by the amount of potassium and sodium in the body. Without potassium, the heart can refuse at any time, as it will stop shrinking. Lack of potassium is a common cause of irregular heart rhythms in which blood flow is disrupted. Heart failure develops, there is a risk of thrombosis.
Good digestion requires muscle work, and potassium is responsible for muscle contraction. Lack of potassium leads to poor peristalsis and indigestion. The result is a difficult bowel movement.
6. Tingling, cramps in legs
The connection between nerve cells is carried out by means of electrical impulses. This process is provided by electrolytes.
There is a constant pump in the body – a sodium-potassium pump. Its task is to accumulate positively charged potassium ions inside the cell, to pump negatively charged sodium ions. This is necessary to maintain the potential difference in the cell membrane.
As a result of the constantly changing ratio of potassium and sodium, an electrical potential for transmitting nerve impulses is generated. If the potassium is depleted by the cell, the potential of the cell membrane changes, resulting in electrical impulses.
This difference in potential created by the potassium-sodium pump causes an abbreviation of muscle fibers and heart muscle. It is the disturbance in the transmission of nerve impulses that causes numbness and cramps of the limbs.
Low potassium has a negative effect on blood circulation. In the case of potassium insufficiency, the brain is poorly supplied with oxygen, resulting in dizziness. In the case of constant dizziness, consult a doctor.
An important factor in the shortage of potassium is processed foods. As a rule, they contain a lot of sodium. The use of high-salt foods is a sign of fluid accumulation for the body to reduce the salt concentration in the blood. The lack of potassium does not compensate for a large amount of sodium supplied with food. Sodium-potassium balance is impaired.
Thus the symptoms of potassium deficiency in the body are varied. Symptoms described may be symptoms of other illnesses. Therefore, if you feel bad, you should consult a doctor. Symptoms of potassium deficiency should be confirmed by a diagnostic method.
To avoid the listed symptoms of potassium deficiency, avoid the reasons for its occurrence. Keep in mind that women often have potassium deficiency symptoms due to dietary compliance, taking diuretics and laxatives. In men, symptoms of potassium deficiency occur as a result of significant physical stress and alcohol abuse.
How to compensate for the lack of potassium in the body
Compensation for potassium deficiency is quite simple. Its balance is restored in just a few days. The main source of calcium are foods rich in potassium. By making small changes to your diet, you can easily compensate for the lack of this mineral. Potassium-rich foods are quite varied. Their list is wide, these are our common products of animal and plant origin.
Which are the richest foods for potassium? Here is an approximate list: avocados, green leafy vegetables, beets, carrots, potatoes, legumes (especially beans, peas, and lentils), citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit), mushrooms, pears, bananas, and others. Also include beef, milk, fish in your diet.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to choose from. The diet can be tailored to any taste. But choosing foods rich in potassium should be moderate and careful. Potassium-rich foods significantly load the kidneys.