Potassium Deficiency: What Happens In Our Body?

Potassium is one of the most important elements in the human body. Nothing works without potassium. Potassium deficiency can lead to serious health problems. You can find out here how this can happen and why potassium is so important for the body.

What is potassium?

Potassium is an essential mineral. Every cell needs it. Potassium regulates the fluid content of the cell and ensures a balanced metabolism. Potassium is abundant in nature. It is among the ten most common elements on our planet.

What does our body need potassium for?

Potassium has many functions. Our nerves and muscles are particularly dependent on potassium. In the nerves, potassium acts as a conductor of stimuli and in the muscles, it is involved in contraction. Potassium is also of great importance within the cell. There it regulates the fluid balance and takes over important functions in the metabolism.

Potassium deficiency: how can it happen?

Potassium deficiency usually occurs when the body loses a lot of fluid. Be it through vomiting or diarrhea. Drug treatments, such as laxatives or diuretics, can also lead to a potassium deficiency. A potassium deficiency is particularly dangerous when it occurs as a side effect of another disease such as leukemia or diabetes. Then you should pay particular attention to the potassium balance.

What happens when there is a potassium deficiency?

A potassium deficiency – also known as hypokalemia – is mainly noticeable through muscle weakness and difficulty concentrating. The required potassium is missing in the muscles and nerves. In worse cases, it can also lead to so-called palpitations. It is well known that the heart is also a muscle and therefore dependent on the supply of potassium. Constipation can also be an indication of potassium deficiency.

Treatment: what to do with potassium deficiency?

If you suffer from the above symptoms, you should consult a doctor. Hypokalemia always requires treatment. Together you can create a nutrition plan that will give you enough potassium. The daily requirement for potassium is high. An adult should consume about four grams of potassium per day. The good news is that potassium is found in almost all foods. If you have a potassium deficiency, however, you should use foods that are particularly rich in potassium. Dietary supplements can also be of help. These are available without a prescription in any pharmacy. But be careful: Too much potassium can also damage the body!

When does a potassium deficiency occur?

Potassium deficiency can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. The following applies: A value between 3.5 and 5.0 millimoles per liter is normal. A value below 3.5 mmol/l is referred to as a potassium deficiency. Incidentally, a lack of potassium is particularly noticeable when this value falls abruptly. Then it is important to consume a lot of potassium.

Beware of too much potassium

Just like potassium deficiency, too much potassium can also cause symptoms. The symptoms are similar to those of low potassium. It is therefore advisable to use a potassium-rich diet only for a short period (a few days). If the symptoms do not improve during this time, other complaints may be present. Then consult a doctor immediately. Medications can also cause excess potassium, such as certain antibiotics or ACE inhibitors.

These foods are particularly high in potassium

Potassium is found in most foods, but some foods are particularly high in potassium. This includes:

  • chanterelles
  • soybeans
  • Chickpeas
  • apricots
  • tomato paste
  • pistachios
  • Dark chocolate (at least 50 percent cocoa)
  • Potato Chips
  • hazelnuts
  • peanuts
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Written by Danielle Moore

So you landed on my profile. Come on in! I am an award-winning chef, recipe developer, and content creator, with a degree in social media management and personal nutrition. My passion is creating original content, including cookbooks, recipes, food styling, campaigns, and creative bits to help brands and entrepreneurs find their unique voice and visual style. My background in the food industry allows me to be able to create original and innovative recipes.

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