Potassium deficiency is the known cause of some heart and kidney problems today. Potassium is a necessary mineral for the human body to function properly. It maintains the water and acid balance in blood and tissue cells. Lack of potassium intake can create abnormal manifestations of the body due to imbalance. If deficiency develops quickly, it could lead to heart problems and a condition known as hypokalemic paralysis that makes the entire body stiff. This is a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention.

Causes of Potassium Deficiency

          Potassium deficiency also known as “hypokalemia” is often the result of poor dietary habits and failure to get the required amount of potassium in your diet. Taking certain drugs can also cause this to happen as a side effect, drugs such as those that help control high blood pressure, diuretics and cortisones. Another cause is bowel movements where food moves fast through the small intestine, therefore, potassium is not sufficiently absorbed. It is the small intestine that absorbs potassium into the body. Hyperthyroidism is also a known cause of potassium deficiency.

Other causes

          Extensive burns and injuries, bowel related surgical operations, aldosterone excessive excretion, constant vomiting, chronic diarrhea, anemia, heart diseases and starvation.


Importance of Potassium

          This mineral helps the kidneys, pancreas and heart to function smoothly as well as the smooth functioning of muscles and nerve impulses, conversion of glucose into glycogen to give energy to our body. It maintains the water and acid balance in our blood and tissue cells and helps with carbohydrate metabolism.

Effects of Low Potassium Level

          Low potassium levels in humans can result in muscle cramps and muscular weakness. The way neuromuscular cells charge and discharge is affected by our level of potassium.  It affects the heart which is made up of muscle and may lead to arrhythmia. Frequent urination and extreme thirst is an side effect of potassium deficiency as well as experiencing a tingling sensation and numbness in the body. It may also creates palpitation or irregular heartbeats and fainting. It also manifests as abnormal psychological behavior in humans such as hallucinations, anxiety and confusion in extreme cases.

Symptoms of Potassium Deficiency

  • Muscular weakness
  • Slow reflexes
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Acne and other skin related problems
  • Temporary memory loss and weak in memory
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Hypertension
  • Constipation
  • Deterioration of the nervous system
  • Deterioration of the heart
  • Ear vibrations

How to Prevent Potassium Deficiency

           Including rich potassium foods in your diet is one way of avoiding hypokalemia. Potassium is available in large quantities in many foods such as beef, chicken and fish; like cod, salmon and sardines, which contains significant amounts of potassium. It can also be found in vegetables such as peas, tomatoes, leafy greens, lima beans and potato skins. Fruits that are rich in potassium include bananas, apricots, melons and citrus fruits. Dried mangoes and apricots also provide concentrated sources of potassium.

          Potassium supplements are also available in the market to get the required amount.

Recommended Potassium Levels in Human

For an adult human:                        2,000mg to 4,700mg per day.

For an infant to 6 months old:       500mg

7 to12 months old:                            700mg

1 to 2 years old:                                  1,000mg

2 to 5 years old:                                  1,400mg

6 to 9 years old:                                  1,600mg

10 year old and above:                      2,000mg

          Some recommendations are higher to help balance high salt intake.

          Potassium deficiency can be prevented by including rich potassium foods in your diet or by simply taking potassium supplements. It is important to maintain a normal level of potassium for good health and normal functioning of your body.