by timrel

December 2, 2021

potassium deficiency signs

Potassium deficiency, also known as hypokalemia, can impede some of our basic bodily functions. You might not know much about potassium at all, let along whether you have a potassium deficiency, but this mineral is essential for our health and wellbeing.

Symptoms of potassium deficiency include cramping, heart palpitations, digestive issues, and fatigue. It's important to seek medical advice if you have any reason to believe you have hypokalemia.

Signs of Potassium Deficiency

Potassium deficiency occurs when you have low levels of potassium in your blood. We need potassium to keep our bodies functioning normally. Potassium is responsible for muscle movement, helping cells to obtain the nutrients that they need, and helping nerves send signals throughout the body. A doctor can carry out blood tests to determine how much potassium you have in your body.

Muscular Cramps

You may experience symptoms such as muscle cramps due to potassium deficiency. When potassium levels are low in the body, the brain doesn't received the appropriate signal to contract or stop contracting muscles. This can cause muscular cramps, especially when you're exercising.

As our bodies respond to exercise, we lose vital electrolytes. Potassium can be essential during exercise, as it helps promote proper muscle contractions. So, if you have low potassium or a potassium deficiency, these contractions can quickly become painful cramps that may impede athletic performance and recovery time.

Heart Palpitations and Arrhythmia

Potassium is essential in regulating the heartbeat, which makes sense, knowing that our heartbeat is essentially a muscle contraction. When there isn't enough potassium in the cells to carry to the heart, you may experience a palpitation, or arrhythmia. Arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat, and research has linked it to low potassium levels in the body.

Muscle Stiffness

a person exercising

Muscle stiffness can be caused by a loss of potassium through exercise. This stiffness is due to muscle breakdown. Having low potassium levels or a potassium deficiency can mean that blood flow isn't directed to your muscles. You should replenish electrolyte levels after working out to prevent potassium related muscle stiffness.

Digestive Issues

You might not immediately think your digestive issues are a result of low potassium levels in your body, but it's possible. Peristalsis occurs when the smooth muscle in the stomach contracts to help us digest our food. When you have low potassium levels, peristalsis slows, and can cause bloating, discomfort, and constipation.

Chron's disease makes it more likely for this to happen. This is because potassium isn't as easily absorbed, and diarrhea is more common. If you have inflammatory bowel disease, it's worth speaking to your doctor or a nutritionist about ways to add enough potassium into your diet.

Fatigue and Feeling of Weakness

a tired person

You may experience fatigue even if you only have a mild potassium deficiency. When you have low blood potassium levels, your muscles can't contract properly, which can affect how the rest of the body uses its electrolytes - resulting in muscle weakness. Low potassium can also affect how signals are sent to the brain, resulting in fatigue and mind fog.

Blood Pressure

blood pressure apparatus

Potassium helps to relax the blood vessels that lower blood pressure. If you have a potassium deficiency, you may be experiencing high blood pressure as well. High blood pressure is typically a result of too much sodium in your diet and not enough potassium.

If you're concerned, talk to your doctor, who can provide medical advice on how to lower your blood pressure. Having high blood pressure can be dangerous, and can lead to a potential heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure, so seeking professional help is essential.

Foods High In Potassium

A poor diet can contribute to hypokalemia. To treat potassium deficiency, you should try to add some of the potassium rich foods below. Potassium supplements are fine as a second resort, but it's better to prioritize getting potassium from the natural foods in your diet.

Speak to a nutritionist for trustworthy health information if you're struggling to maintain healthy potassium levels.

Brown Rice

Brown rice can be included as part of a healthy diet. It contains good levels of potassium, as well as magnesium and fiber. All of these nutrients can help with symptoms of potassium deficiency. Brown rice is cheap and easy to add to any savory dish. A half cup can provide you with an impressive 41mg of potassium.



Bananas are perhaps the most well-kown source of potassium, and are commonly used to help athletes keep up their energy and prevent muscle problems from occurring. Bananas can be used for people experiencing digestive issues as they're easy on the stomach and part of a low FODMAP diet.

Black Beans

Black beans are an easy-cook, potassium-rich food that can help increase the levels of potassium in the blood. However, it's important to note that black beans contain phytates, which may impede how much potassium is absorbed.

If you're eating black beans to get more potassium in your diet, you should supplement with other foods. You can also soak the beans overnight, which may reduce the amount of phytates they contain.



Adding beets to your diet can help you manage high blood pressure as a result of potassium deficiency. Beets are a good source of potassium. Because beets also contain nitrates, they can help with symptoms of high blood pressure and overall heart health.

Winter Squash

Winter squash, such as butternut squash, is a great seasonal addition to your diet. Butternut squash is high in potassium, providing around twelve percent of your recommended daily intake. It also contains vitamins A, C, E, and B.

Butternut squash can be blended into pasta sauces, roasted, or steamed. You can also blend it into a soup.


sliced avocados

Avocado can help add potassium to a low-potassium diet. Half of an avocado contains 10% of your potassium needs. This potassium-rich food also contains vitamin K and folate, both of which are important for healthy red blood cells.

signs of potassium deficiency

Coconut Water

Coconut water is high in potassium and can help replenish other electrolytes as well. This can help with muscle cramps and stiffness caused by low potassium. Coconut water is an easy way to supplement potassium levels while keeping hydrated.

You should drink coconut water after you work out to help replenish electrolyte levels. This can help boost your sports performance and help replenish glycogen stores in your muscles.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens, like swiss chard, contain double the amount of potassium than a banana - despite the fact that they're rarely touted as potassium-rich foods. Swiss chard also contains, fiber which may help with digestive symptoms associated with low potassium levels. Swiss chard can be cooked and added to a range of dishes to help boost your potassium levels.



Research suggests that potatoes are the best source of potassium. Potatoes are cheap and easily accessible in most parts of the world, so they're an ideal source of potassium for everyone. Different varieties of potatoes contain different potassium levels. Potatoes contain nearly twenty percent of your daily recommended intake.

Potatoes are easy to add to a healthy diet, and can be baked, steamed, roasted, or fried. They're incredibly versatile, so you're bound to find plenty of ways to cook them for your family.


edamame on a bowl

Edamame contains fourteen percent of your daily intake of potassium. These beans are also incredibly high in folate, magnesium and manganese, making them an ideal food to help with symptoms of hypokalemia.

Edamame can be served steamed inside or outside of their pods. An edamame bean is a small, immature soy bean that is typically served as a snack or appetizer. You should be able to find edamame in your local grocery store.



Watermelon is one of the best fruit sources of potassium. It's low in calories, yet still has fiber and vitamins that can help with digestive symptoms you may experience with potassium deficiency. Watermelon contains vitamins A, C, and magnesium. It has a high water content that can help with hydration.


A diet high in potassium and other electrolytes can help prevent hypokalemia. Eating more foods that are rich in nutrients can improve your overall health and prevent potassium deficiencies. By reducing the sodium levels in your blood and increasing the amount of electrolytes, you may be able to help high blood pressure.

Take note that you can also experience side effects from too much potassium. Excessive potassium can cause dizziness, excessive sweating, and even a heart attack. A blood test can determine how much potassium you have in your blood.

It is difficult, however, to overconsume potassium unless you have kidney disease or another underlying medical issue, so this isn't something to worry about too much.

About the author


I am passionate about health and wellbeing and have writing for over 10 years on the subject. I have a BSc Hons Degree and undertake vigorous research to help people improve their lives and live more a healthy and happy life.

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