Have you had your potassium today? Potassium is an electrolyte that is a vital part of a healthy body. In fact, it helps keep the nerve and muscle cells functioning properly. Unfortunately, low potassium levels can negatively affect many different functions in the body. While a potassium deficiency can be caused by diuretics, vomiting, or diarrhea, you can also become potassium deficient by taking some antibiotics or just by failing to get enough potassium in your diet. (1)
Here are six signs you have low potassium levels:
1. Heart Palpitations
You heart can be affected by a potassium deficiency. Low potassium levels can disrupt the rhythmic and coordinated heart contractions, controlled by electric impulses. Furthermore, the balance of potassium and salt in the body influences these electric impulses. Imbalances caused by low potassium can lead to heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat. (2)
When your body is low in potassium, it struggles to regulate sodium levels in the body. This imbalance can cause you to feel constantly bloated, because the salt in your body isn’t being regulated. (3)
3. Numbness and Tingling
Potassium promotes healthy nerves. A potassium deficiency can have a negative effect on your nerves, causing numbness and tingling or a needles-and-pins sensation. Potassium is an important nutrient in nervous system function.
4. High Blood Pressure
Because potassium plays an important role in regulating salt in the body, low potassium levels can affect your blood pressure. Therefore, consuming potassium-rich foods can help your body maintain a healthy blood pressure level. (4)
Low potassium levels have a negative impact on the digestive system because potassium keeps salt levels in check. Salt that isn’t being properly regulated can cause constant bloating, which can lead to gas and constipation. (5)
Fatigue can be a sign of many different health issues, including potassium deficiency. Your body needs potassium in order to function properly, so without it, you may feel constantly tired for no apparent reason. (6)
Incorporate these six potassium-rich foods into your diet to keep your body healthy and functioning properly:
Spinach is rich in potassium. As a bonus, studies have also shown that spinach contains plant chloroplast glycoglycerolipids, which are believed to act as cancer-fighting agents. Lastly, one cup of cooked spinach contains 839 milligrams of potassium. (7)
2. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes contain more nutrients that white potatoes, including potassium. They are also high in beta-carotene, Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. Additionally, one large sweet potato contains 855 milligrams of potassium.
Avocados are a superfood for many reasons. For one, this fruit is relatively high in protein. Along with several other nutrients, they contain a healthy dose of potassium. One whole avocado contains 1,067 milligrams of potassium.
Pomegranate seeds and pomegranate juice are both great sources of potassium. They’re also loaded with other nutrients the body needs, including fiber, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K. And one whole pomegranate contains 667 milligrams of potassium. (8)
5. Coconut Water
If you’re looking for potassium in a liquid form, try coconut water. But make sure you choose a brand with no added sugars. Just one cup of coconut water contains 600 milligrams of potassium. (9)
6. Dried Apricots
Dried apricots are the perfect potassium-rich snack. Studies have shown that people who consume dried apricot and other dried fruits tend to have healthier overall diets with more nutrients, as well as a lower body weight. Half a cup of dried apricots contains 756 milligrams. (10)
Potential For Potassium Toxicity
While most Westerners suffer from potassium deficiency, it is possible to have too much potassium in the body, leading to potassium toxicity (called hyperkalemia). The kidneys generally keep potassium levels at an optimal level if you’re eating enough of it. But kidney problems can lead to potassium toxicity. What’s more, some of the symptoms of toxicity are similar to those of deficiency, for example, numbness or tingling, as well as heart palpitations. So consider your diet and supplement intake to make sure you’re getting enough potassium but avoid toxic levels! (11)