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Nutrition Key Deficiencies

Potassium Deficiency and Health Concerns

Potassium Deficiency and Health Concerns

Signs of Potassium Deficiency

  • Abnormally dry skin
  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Chills (often over the entire body)
  • Cognitive impairment (slow thinking or trouble remembering things)
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea (less common)
  • Diminished reflex function
  • Edema (swelling, water retention)
  • Fluctuations in heartbeat (chemical, electrical imbalance)
  • Glucose intolerance (sugar processing disrupted)
  • Growth impairment
  • High blood pressure (result of edema and kidney chemical problems)
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Hypokalemia
  • Insatiable thirst
  • Insomnia (acid, tense body)
  • Life-threatening, irregular or rapid heartbeat that can lead to cardiac arrest and death
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscular fatigue and weakness (electrical imbalance)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nervousness (lack of calming potassium and magnesium)
  • Periodic headaches (constriction and tension in blood vessels)
  • Proteinuria (protein in the urine)
  • Respiratory distress (acidic inflamed lungs)
  • Salt retention
  • Weakness, paralysis

Reasons To Use

  • Promotes regular heartbeat.
  • Promotes normal muscle contraction.
  • Regulates transfer of nutrients to cells.
  • Maintains water balance in body tissues and cells.
  • Preserves or restores normal function of nerve cells, heart cells, skeletal-muscle cells, kidneys, stomach-juice secretion.
  • Treats potassium deficiency from illness or taking diuretics (water pills),      cortisone drugs or digitalis preparations.
  • High blood pressure (for people not taking potassium-sparing diuretics)
  • Congestive heart failure

What Potassium Does

  • Aids in maintaining a regular heart beat
  • Helps prevent stroke
  • Important for a healthy nervous system
  • Maintains blood pressure (lowers high BP or raises low BP)
  • Maintains muscle tone and proper muscle contraction
  • Regulates levels of acidity (increase alkalinity in the body and urine)
  • Regulates the transfer of nutrients through cell membranes
  • Regulates water balance
  • Required for carbohydrate and protein metabolism

Cautions and Comments about Potassium

  • High potassium intake (several hundred milligrams at one time in tablet form) can produce stomach irritation
  • Kidney disorders, diarrhea, prolonged vomiting and the use of diuretics or laxatives all disrupt potassium levels
  • Potassium is needed for hormone secretion.  The secretion of stress hormones causes a decrease in the potassium-to-sodium ratio both inside and outside the cells.  As a result, stress increases the body’s potassium requirements.
  • Drug Interactions: The following drugs are known to interact with the absorption of potassium:
    • Amilorid: causes a dangerous rise in blood potassium.
    • Atropine: increases the possibility of intestinal ulcers, which may be caused by potassium supplements.
    • Belladonna: increases possibility of intestinal ulcers.
    • Calcium: increases likelihood of heartbeat irregularities.
    • Captopril: increases likelihood of potassium overdose.
    • Digitalis preparations: may cause irregular heartbeat.
    • Enalapril: increases chance of overdose.
    • Laxatives: may decrease effectiveness of potassium (due to the fact that they leach potassium from the body).
    • Spironolactone: increases blood potassium.
    • Triamterene: increases blood potassium.

Who Needs Additional Amounts?

  • People who take diuretics, cortisone drugs or digitalis preparations.
  • Anyone with inadequate caloric or nutritional dietary intake or      increased nutritional requirements.
  • Older people (over 55 years).
  • Pregnant or breast-feeding women.
  • Women taking oral contraceptives.
  • People who abuse alcohol or other drugs.
  • Tobacco smokers.
  • People with a chronic wasting illness, excess stress for long      periods or who have recently undergone surgery.
  • Athletes and workers who participate in vigorous physical      activities, especially when endurance is an important aspect of the      activity.
  • Those with part of the gastrointestinal tract surgically removed.
  • People with malabsorption illnesses.
  • Those with recent severe burns or injuries.

Lab Tests to Detect Defiency

  • Serum-potassium determinations
  • Serum creatinine
  • Electrocardiograms
  • Serum-pH determinations

Key Sources of Potassium

  • Blackstrap Molasses
  • Dehydrated prunes, dates, raisins, craisins
  • Berries - blueberries, blackberries raspberries…
  • Bananas
  • Most other fruits except seedless grapes
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes
  • Squash, cabbage, beets
  • Most vegetables
  • Sea vegetables, spirulina, algae
  • Grasses – barley, wheat, oat


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