Monday, November 26, 2012

Low Potassium

Well I have been gone for awhile partly due to low potassium, and partly due to the fact my beautiful daughter was here from West Tennessee visiting for a week. Yes, I had low, low, low potassium, why? Because I am a total carnivore. While I keep telling my self I need to juice I am not, enough with that let me you tell you my symptoms and what I did.

                                My Symptoms

So, I woke up one morning, and had this numbing sensation on the right side of my upper body. The sensation started in my fingers and continued to the top of my head, along the top of my back from shoulder to shoulder. I also noticed that my equilibrium was off, but did  not notice the lack of energy until after I ate. I thought maybe I was just hungry, but no something was wrong. I had also ignored the bloating I was experiencing, which I have not seen mentioned in other articles on the topic. My energy was so low I could not walk at a normal pace, instead I shuffled through the house for about a week. It was a Thursday, and I spent the day on the couch thinking I just need to rest, and this will pass. No, woke up the next morning, and all the symptoms where still there. I went to the computer to do some research, and realized I did not know where to begin.
                                                                    What I Did

Then I remember the local herbalist had given me his card, and said if I ever needed anything to call him. So, I gave him a call described my symptoms, and quickly he said my potassium was low and to drink some Emergen_C. I did not trust my self to drive, and called my husband to ask him if he would pick some up. He replied by telling me we already had some, and as I started to drink it I felt the numbing start to fade from my upper back, shoulders, and head. It took a couple of the days for it to reach through my arm, and to my fingers, but finally it was all gone within days.

However, I also started eating more potassium along with taking a supplement, and drinking stinging nettle infusions (contains 297 mg of potassium). It has been I estimate about five weeks, and my equilibrium is still off, and if I do to much I get worn out.

                                                    Symptoms of Low Potassium

While symptoms do vary from person to person the most basic symptoms are muscle weakness, cramps, nausea,(had that too) vomiting, fatigue, constipation, palpitations, increased thirst, and urination. Some of these symptoms are common of other issues, so always check with your health care professional.

                                             What Potassium Does for our Bodies

Our bodies contain many minerals potassium is the third most abundant. As an electrolyte it helps to regulate our blood pressure, muscle activity, water retention, and is important for the proper function of every cell in our bodies. Potassium helps to increase our energy levels, aids our cells in the elimination of toxic waste, along with balancing out our PH levels.

                                         People at Higher Risk for Low Potassium

  • Those taking certain birth control pills, diacritics, as well as other medications.
  • High physical demanding jobs.
  • Athletes, or those who work on a regular basis intensely. 
  • Those who have a health condition which effects their digestive absorption, such as Crohns.   
  • Those with eating disorders.
  • Smokers, alcoholics, drug addicts. 

                                                How Much Potassium do we Need?

Adequate Intake (AI)
0-6 months
400 mg/day
7-12 months
700 mg/day
1-3 years
3,000 mg/day
4-8 years
3,800 mg/day
9-13 years
4,500 mg/day
14 years and up
4,700 mg/day
18 years and up
4,700 mg/day
Pregnant women
4,700 mg/day
Breastfeeding women
5,100 mg/day

                                                         Top 10 Sources for Potassium

#1: White Beans
Potassium in 100g1 cup cooked (179g)
561mg (16% DV)1004mg (29% DV)
Other Beans High in Potassium (%DV per cup): Adzuki (35%), Soy (28%), Lima (28%), Kidney (20%), Great Northern (20%), Pinto (18%) and others at an average of 15% DV per cup cooked.

#2: Dark Leafy Greens (Spinach)
Potassium 100g (Raw)1 Cup (Raw - 30g)1 Cup (Cooked - 180g)
558mg (16% DV)167mg (5% DV)839mg (24% DV)
Other Greens High in Potassium (%DV per cup cooked): Swiss Chard (27% DV), Kale (8% DV), and Collards (6% DV

#3: Baked Potatoes (With Skin)
Potassium 100gAverage Potato (173g)
535mg (15% DV)926mg (26% DV)
Warning: Potatoes are high in simple carbohydrates and not recommended for people with diabetes. Sweet potatoes are actually better for regulation blood sugar, an average baked sweet potato with skin (114g) provides 542mg (15% DV) of potassium.

#4: Dried Apricots
Potassium 100g1/2 cup (65g)
1162mg (33% DV)755mg (22% DV)
Warning: Dried Apricots are high in sugar.

#5: Baked Acorn Squash
Potassium 100g1 cup cubed (205g)
437mg (12% DV)899mg (26% DV)
Other Squash High in Potassium (%DV per cup baked): Hubbard (21%), Butternut (17% DV), Zucchini (14% DV), Average Winter Squash (10% DV).

#6: Yogurt (Plain, Skim/Non-Fat)
Potassium 100g1 cup (245g)
255mg (7% DV)625mg (18% DV)
Other Yogurt High in Potassium (%DV per cup): Whole-Fat (11% DV), Chocolate Yogurt (24% DV).

#7: Fish (Salmon)
Potassium 100g1 3oz fillet (85g)
628mg (18% DV)534mg (15% DV)
Other Fish High in Potassium (%DV per 3oz fillet (85g)): Pompano (15% DV), Lingcod (14% DV), Halibut (13% DV), Yellowfin Tuna (13% DV), Anchovies (12% DV), Mackerel (10% DV), Herring (10% DV) and most other fish at an average of 10% DV.

#8: Avocados
Potassium 100gAverage Avocado (201g)1/2 Cup Pureed (115)
485mg (14% DV)975mg (28% DV)558mg (16% DV)
An average avocado provides 322 calories, half a cup purred contains 184 calories.

#9: Mushrooms (White)
Potassium 100g1 cup sliced (108g)
396mg (11% DV)428mg (12% DV)
1 cup cooked sliced white mushrooms contain 28 calories.
Other mushrooms high in potassium (%DV per cup sliced): Portabella (9% DV), Brown or Crimini (9% DV), Enoki (7% DV), Shiitake (5% DV), Maitake (4% DV).
#10: Bananas
Potassium 100gAverage Banana(118g)1 Cup Mashed (225)
358mg (10% DV)422mg (12% DV)806mg (23% DV)
An average banana provides 105 calories, 1 cup mashed contains 200 calories.
I believe I have had low potassium for years, but ignored the symptoms. I have always has cramps in my toes, and sometimes in my calf muscle as well. While I knew it was due to a lack of something my body needed I never knew what, do now. I also had started to get a tingling in my right arm on and off, and blew that off as well. Don't ignore any of the symptoms I have mentioned here, but if you do start taking in more potassium, and the symptoms persist it is time to consult a health care professional. 
Also be aware if you are like me and work out hard on a regular basis you lose potassium through sweat. It is important to replenish lost potassium from a hard work out.    
You can Google any food product for the potassium content, as I searched I noticed there are conflicting numbers out there look for consistencies. 

This is how dealt with low potassium, I am not recommending anyone else does what I did. As a matter of fact my husband said numerous times I should consider seeing a doctor.

Muscle weakness, cramps, constipation, palpitations, fatigue, and increased thirst and urination are common, along with nausea and vomiting.

Read more:
Muscle weakness, cramps, constipation, palpitations, fatigue, and increased thirst and urination are common, along with nausea and vomiting.

Read more:


  1. Great information Joyce! I try to keep fresh banana on the table for my husband before his workout. I like them in my shakes. Glad you're feeling better!

  2. It would be better for him to eat the banana after the work out to replenish lost potassium. My daughter introduced me to coconut water while she was here, and it has 670 mg of potassium which is more than a banana. Once my energy level is back up for a hard work out I will be drinking one after wards.

  3. Pls my potassium drops up so low and my problem is lack of apetite how can I boost up my potassium if everytime I eat I feel like throwing up always dizzy is that normal went to the hospital and did some labaratories but went all negative except for my potassium what worries me is that up till now still feels the syptoms..

    1. I'm not a doctor, but have you tried potassium drops? We put them right into our drinks, if you are not eating organic I suggest you start. Many gut related issues stem from the genetically mutated foods people are eating. Once again I am not a certified health care professional, I'm simply speaking from what I have learned.

  4. I have low potassium and diarrhea I caught a bug have had it 3 weeks now meds doctor put me on makes it worse

    1. If I were you I would be drinking emergenC once a day and hibiscus day the rest of the day. That is just what I would do and did to get my potassium up and more electrolytes.

  5. I also have experienced low potassium and urge anyone with the same suspicion to see a medical care professional immediately. I ended in the hospital for 3 days with only a few symptoms above. I had the nausea, constipation, extreme thirst (no matter how much I drank), and also experienced heart palpitations, which I read on the internet can be "normal" and I had experienced them before. They became more frequent along with a hot sensation in my chest, but no pain. A friend talked me in to going to the E.R. Good thing because upon arrival, my potassium level was 2.1 along with an abnormal ECG....So anyone with even s small suspicion, please see a doctor.

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