- Potassium is the third most prevalent mineral in the body — but most of us (likely 97-100%!) aren’t getting enough.
- Hypokalemia (low potassium) can cause uncomfortable symptoms like heart palpitations, fatigue, constipation, and dehydration.
- Treatment for low potassium is tricky and some supplements may put you at risk for hyperkalemia (high potassium), which is life-threatening. You can get a safe dose of potassium through liquid minerals or potassium rich foods.
You’re ready to optimize your wellness journey and finally feel your best.
Maybe you’ve even started to take the first steps. You’ve increased your water intake, meal prepped a few protein-packed salads for work, and you’re exercising regularly…
But you can’t help but wonder if there’s something you’re missing — something that will change your wellness game for good.
You already know there’s no such thing as a miracle cure. But if there was, it would probably be minerals.
While minerals are often overlooked in the wellness community, they are essential for achieving peak wellness and performance. Minerals help you stay energized while regulating fluid levels in the body. (Hint: that gallon of water every day isn’t doing you any good without minerals!)
The problem is, our modern food and water sources are depleted of minerals and don’t contain enough to hit our daily requirements.
One mineral in particular — potassium — is working behind the scenes to ensure our heartbeat is regulated, our cells are hydrated, and our nervous system is performing optimally. Of all the minerals in the human body, it is the third most abundant (the top two being calcium and phosphorus).
In this blog, we’re diving into potassium deficiency and everything it could mean for your health.
Table of Contents:
- What Is Hypokalemia?
- What Causes Low Potassium?
- Symptoms of Low Potassium
- How to Diagnose Potassium Deficiency
- How Does Potassium Deficiency Affect Your Cellular Health?
- Treatment for Low Potassium
- How to Reduce the Risk of Hypokalemia
What Is Hypokalemia?
Hypokalemia (aka, low potassium) happens when there isn’t enough potassium in the blood for optimal function.
Potassium is an essential mineral that energizes the human body down to the cellular level. Since it carries an electrical charge, it’s also considered an electrolyte and commonly recommended for sports enhancement.
But this isn’t the only benefit of optimized potassium levels. Potassium also:
- Regulates the heartbeat
- Improves kidney function
- Aids in nervous system performance
- Relieves muscle cramping
- Regulates fluid levels in the body
So what causes low potassium? And how can you improve your intake of this essential mineral? We’ve gathered all the research so you don’t have to.
What Causes Low Potassium?
There are a variety of causes for low potassium. Similar to other mineral deficiencies, it can be difficult to get adequate potassium from modern food and water sources. Other causes are a little more complex and may include:
- A high sodium diet
- Chronic diarrhea (usually with a root cause like IBS or SIBO)
- High cortisol
- High adrenaline
- Insulin resistance
- Diuretic medication (used to lower blood pressure)
- Trauma or stress
Symptoms of Low Potassium
How do you know if you’re experiencing potassium deficiency? These symptoms of hypokalemia may clue you in and get you one step closer to a diagnosis.
- Heart palpitations
- Tingling in the skin
- Muscle issues (spasms, cramps, or weakness)
- Frequent dehydration
How to Diagnose Potassium Deficiency
As you may have noticed, the symptoms of low potassium are similar to those of other mineral deficiencies. To get a clear diagnosis, you’ll want to assess your medical history, diet, and potentially run some bloodwork with your doctor (ideally functional lab testing).
If there isn’t a clear reason why you may be experiencing symptoms of low potassium (such as diuretics, trauma, or high cortisol), you can use a few of these tools to reach a potential diagnosis:
The Liquid Mineral Test
With the liquid mineral test, you’ll swish a few drops of liquid potassium around in your mouth and determine if it tastes sweet or sour. If the mineral is sweet, pleasant, or has no taste at all, then it’s probably time to start adding potassium-rich foods to your diet (you are low!).
A Urine Test
This is a painless and inexpensive way to see if your potassium is lower than average. Some urine tests are available online or at a local pharmacy. While this test may not be as accurate as a blood test, it can give you a general idea of your potassium levels and help you find the right treatment.
Hair Mineral Analysis Test
Some practitioners use a hair mineral analysis test to look at mineral levels and see how the body is using up potassium, magnesium, calcium, and certain trace minerals like zinc and copper. Just make sure you find a practitioner who is skilled in interpreting these tests since they are a little less common than blood or urine testing.
How Does Potassium Deficiency Affect Your Cellular Health?
Potassium is a kind of electrolyte. Its job is to stabilize fluid levels within the cells (keeping you hydrated!). Potassium is also significant when it comes to waste management in the cell. It invites nutrients in while kicking waste out.
Studies show that offsetting the balance of potassium in the cell can cause disease and life-threatening illness — so it’s really important that we pay attention to this mineral when it comes to our cellular health!
Treatment for Low Potassium
Ideally, you should be getting about 4700 mg of potassium daily, more than any other mineral. But the way that you get that potassium can be tricky.
Potassium supplementation isn’t usually recommended unless you’re experiencing a severe deficiency. Even then, supplementation is highly monitored. This is because too much potassium can put you at risk of developing hyperkalemia (high potassium).
Hyperkalemia is life-threatening and can cause shortness of breath, high blood pressure, vomiting, and may lead to a heart attack.
That’s why it’s best to play it safe and get your potassium through natural food sources or through liquid mineral drops (a much lower source of potassium).
Foods High In Potassium
Eat something delicious and hit your recommended macromineral dose at the same time. Win win!
Foods high in potassium include bananas (of course!), avocados, legumes, spinach, sweet potatoes, coconut water, aloe juice, and fish. The cream of tartar hiding in your spice cabinet is also a source of potassium.
If you’d like to try the popular adrenal cocktail, you can whip one up by mixing a little cream of tartar, salt, and orange juice together. Not only is it delicious and energizing, but it will help you meet your daily dose of potassium too. You can also add a scoop of collagen or protein powder for a blood sugar balancing pick me up.
Our Adrenal Cocktail Recipe:
- A 4-8 oz. glass of orange juice (if using 4 oz., add an equal amount of water)
- 1/8th-1/4th teaspoon of cream of tartar (or, substitute a few tablespoons of coconut water)
- 1/8th-1/4th teaspoon of mineralized salt.
Mix and enjoy!
Decrease Your Sodium Intake (Possibly)
Sodium and potassium have a complicated relationship. They are both essential minerals that play different roles in the body. But on average most of us are getting way more than the recommended intake.
Too much sodium offsets the balance of potassium and could even cause a deficiency! Ideally, your potassium intake should be more than twice the amount of sodium. Decreasing your sodium intake is one way to ensure your potassium levels stay balanced and your blood pressure levels remain healthy.
However, we also know what mineralized salt, like Celtic sea salt or Redmond’s Real Salt, can be extremely beneficial, and there is new research linking salt intake to better health. So the trick is to realize what kind of salt you allow into your diet, and to make sure your potassium intake far outweighs that sodium level.
How to Reduce the Risk of Hypokalemia
First, be aware that, if you’re not already actively paying attention to it, you naturally aren’t getting enough potassium in your diet. Developing awareness of the minerals in your food will help you to purposefully seek out potassium-rich options and make you more conscious of the minerals you’re consuming through liquid sources.
These days, tap water is extremely toxic and should be filtered through a high quality filter. While this process removes icky things like fluoride and heavy metals, it also often eliminates essential minerals like potassium.
You may be surprised to discover that simply balancing your potassium levels helps you feel hydrated, healthy, and energized.
Avoid Potassium Deficiency with BodyBio Liquid Minerals
Get your daily dose of potassium from a safe, gentle source. Liquid minerals allow for optimal absorption, hydration and precise dosing. Take our liquid potassium as a daily supplement based on your needs or include a few drops in your water before a workout.
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Weaver C. M. (2013). Potassium and health. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 4(3), 368S–77S. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.112.003533
Birukov, A., Rakova, N., Lerchl, K., Olde Engberink, R. H., Johannes, B., Wabel, P., Moissl, U., Rauh, M., Luft, F. C., & Titze, J. (2016). Ultra-long-term human salt balance studies reveal interrelations between sodium, potassium, and chloride intake and excretion. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 104(1), 49–57. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.116.132951
Berg, Eric D.C. (2017). Causes & Symptoms of Potassium Deficiency. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWqnMS4ywp0