When we think of potassium we usually think of bananas, but many of us fail to realize the vital role this mineral plays in the body. It’s important for muscle strength, nerve functioning and a healthy cardiovascular system; but how do we know if we are really getting enough? It can be tricky to tell, so to ensure that this common deficiency doesn’t sabotage your health, Nutritionist Sarah Flower reveals the biggest signs that you’re running low.
Your Muscles Feel Weak
Potassium is essential for the conversion of blood sugars into glycogen (the fuel stored in our muscles and liver), so when levels are low, you might experience muscle weakness throughout the day or while working out. Lower levels of potassium can also cause too much calcium to be excreted in our urine, which can also impact your bone health.
Your Muscles Feel Crampy
Potassium is essential for the muscles to work effectively, so when levels are low you might experience aches, pains and even spasms.
You’re Always Tired
Tiredness can be a symptom when the stores of glycogen in the liver and muscles are compromised by low potassium. Low levels of potassium can affect the efficiency of your nerve impulses and electrical signaling for good brain function, and can also contribute to brain fog, headaches, migraines and low mood.
The body needs potassium for good fluid balance inside the digestive tract, and when levels are low, the acidity of your stomach acid becomes low, and you might be at risk of not absorbing enough nutrients, causing constipation, bloating and abdominal cramping.
You Have High Blood Pressure
Potassium, along with magnesium and calcium, controls the fluid in our cells. Without enough potassium, there becomes a build-up of fluid and the blood vessel walls can become constricted, which in turn can cause blood pressure to rise. Low potassium can also cause heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat and in extreme cases cardiac arrest. Some trials have shown supplementing with potassium can help balance blood pressure, but I would avoid self-prescribing high potassium supplementation as this can be extremely dangerous. I would recommend using a low dosage supplement that provides on average 200mg of potassium, like Power Health’s potassium salts, New Era 6, available to buy from www.powerhealth.co.uk.
You Feel Dizzy, Faint and Tingly
One of potassium's many jobs is to keep the nervous system healthy. When you don't have enough, you may experience a tingling sensation in your arms and legs, as well as numbness. A large drop in potassium can also slow your heartbeat, making you feel light headed and as if you’re going to faint.
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