How does potassium deficiency develop? Potassium is an important mineral that plays an important role in the body for fluid balance and the transmission of electrical impulses to nerve and muscle cells. The potassium level is precisely regulated by the body. The required amount of potassium is taken from the diet and what is too much is simply excreted. For various reasons, however, a potassium deficiency can develop in the blood, which can sometimes even be life-threatening.
Causes of potassium deficiency
Does potassium deficiency have clear causes? As a rule, a normal diet ensures a sufficient supply of potassium in the body, as potassium is in many foods. However, gastrointestinal discomfort with severe vomiting or diarrhea, fistulas in the intestine, and ingestion of laxatives or diuretics (water tablets) over a long period of time may cause potassium deficiency in the blood.
Even with excessive salt intake and alcohol abuse, heavy sweating and lack of fluid supply, it may be that the potassium level in the body drops. Therefore, athletes, the elderly and patients with bulimia are particularly affected by potassium deficiency (potassium deficiency, hypokalemia).
Potassium deficiency: symptoms and signs
A lack of potassium in the body is expressed by quite common symptoms such as:
- a headache
Striking symptoms are:
- muscle cramps
- Circulation problems
The most important functions of potassium in the body are the regulation of the fluid balance and the gastrointestinal tract as well as the involvement in muscle and nerve function. So, if symptoms occur in these areas, it may indicate potassium deficiency. It is dangerous if the potassium deficiency has consequences for the function of the heart muscle and thus leads to cardiac arrhythmia.
Balance potassium deficiency
In order to compensate for potassium deficiency, it usually does not require much effort. Those affected should preferably eat high-potassium foods such as whole grains, dried fruits, avocados, bananas, potatoes, and nuts to raise potassium levels in the body. Potassium supplements should only be taken on medical advice.
A simpler way to consume more potassium is to cook potatoes or legumes for a long time. Potassium is soluble in water and therefore remains in the cooking water. This can be picked up after cooking, used as a base for a soup or sauce, while eliminating potassium deficiency.