While potassium does not always get as much attention as some of the other key minerals and vitamins, the truth is that it’s incredibly important for proper function of the human body. For example, you need potassium in order to maintain a healthy heart muscle, appropriate muscle function and stable blood pressure.
When your body’s potassium reserves drop below optimal levels, you can develop a chronic potassium deficiency. This condition is called hypokalemia, and there a few common causes. For example, certain prescription drugs can diminish your potassium supply; diuretics are a common culprit, though they are effective at controlling water retention and high blood pressure.
Dehydration or repeated episodes of diarrhea also put you at risk of developing a potassium deficiency, so it’s something to watch out for when you have food poisoning or gastroenteritis. However, hypokalemia can also occasionally be triggered by a lack of potassium-rich foods. Some of the best sources include sweet potatoes, broccoli, yogurt, lentils and winter squash, so try to include these in your diet.
Regardless of the cause, a potassium deficiency can have significant and far-reaching consequences for your well-being. While the changes in your health can be subtle at first, they will steadily increase until they undermine your quality of life, and some of them may even be life-threatening in severe cases. Here are ten signs of the most common signs that you should ask your doctor to consider testing you for potassium deficiency. A simple blood test should tell you all you need to know, though a urine test may sometimes be requested as well. Be sure to click “NEXT” to start the article.