5 signs that you lack potassium and foods that provide more than bananas

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Potassium deficiency affects muscle health (iStock)
Potassium deficiency affects muscle health (iStock)

He potassium It is a mineral whose main function in the human body is that the electrical impulses that regulate functions such as muscle contraction, including the cardiac muscle, occur appropriately. This regulation is vital for human survival as it allows the heart to beat at a constant rate, according to data from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

In normal conditions a person usually has between 3.6 and 5.2 millimoles (mmol) of potassium per liter of blood. Although a level that could put your life at risk would be if it is below 2.5 mmol/l, the truth is that levels below 3.5 mmol They already cause effects that can be felt in the human body.

People who are below healthy levels are considered to have potassium deficiencya condition that is called hypokalemia and that can cause some of the following symptoms, according to information from the Mayo Clinic.

1. Weakness or fatigue

This is usually one of the first signs of potassium deficiency because this mineral also intervenes in the absorption of nutrients. If the body cannot adequately use the nutrients from food, it will not have enough energy to function, which will cause this symptom of fatigue.

For its part, the weakness could be caused by the impairment of muscle contractions.

Potassium helps the absorption of nutrients (Illustrative image Infobae)
Potassium helps the absorption of nutrients (Illustrative image Infobae)

2. Cramps, pain and muscle stiffness

He Potassium helps regulate blood flow in muscles So when levels are too low, the muscles do not receive adequate oxygenation. This phenomenon can cause breakdown of muscle tissuer which will cause pain or other symptoms such as cramps and difficulty moving them.

Lack of potassium causes lack of muscle oxygenation (iStock)
Lack of potassium causes lack of muscle oxygenation (iStock)

3. Digestive problems

The digestive system uses contractions to move food through the intestines and to absorb nutrients from the intestines. In this sense, if there is not enough potassium, this mechanism is interrupted, which can lead to symptoms such as inflammation and constipation.

The digestive system also works through contractions (Infobae File)
The digestive system also works through contractions (Infobae File)

4. Palpitations

Because the Potassium helps regulate electrical signals in the bodywhich are involved in the proper functioning of the muscles, when this mineral is low the heart rate can be altered causing that sensation of an accelerated heartbeat.

Palpitations may indicate a lack of potassium (iStock)
Palpitations may indicate a lack of potassium (iStock)

5. Difficulty breathing

In addition to all the systems already mentioned, another function that the body performs through contractions It is breathing because the lungs carry out this movement to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. It is for this reason that a deficiency of this mineral could cause the feeling of shortness of breath.

Lack of potassium affects muscle contraction of the lungs (iStock)
Lack of potassium affects muscle contraction of the lungs (iStock)

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of potassium is to maintain adequate levels of this mineral is between 2600 to 3400 milligrams according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which can be obtained through a balanced diet.

Although the banana is considered the food potassium source par excellence, the truth is that there are other foods that also provide significant amounts. They are considered to be foods rich in potassium If they contribute more than 300 milligrams per serving And here we tell you some foods that contain more than this dose:

-Baked potato 925 mg in one piece

-Canned clams 535 mg in 3 ounces

-Sweet potato 450 mg in one piece

-Spinach 420 mg in 1/2 cup

-Banana 420 mg in one piece

-Lentils 365 mg in 1/2 cup

-300 mg beans in 1/2 cup

However, in addition to including these foods in your diet, if you present two or more of these symptoms for a prolonged period of time, we recommend that you consult a specialist and perform a test. potassium blood testthe clinical study that will tell you what potassium levels you have.

A drastic drop in potassium levels is known as hypokalemia and can put a person's life at risk if not treated immediately, so care must be taken not to allow levels to drop too low.

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