Low Potassium Warnings

Low Potassium Warnings

Sometimes you can go through many conventional remedies before you realize that you may be lacking in something as simple as the mineral potassium. This mineral is estimated to be deficient in a high portion of the American population alone, however it is not often caused by diet but rather a sudden loss of fluids. 

Surprisingly many people lack the proper hydration to maintain homeostasis (balanced systemic functioning aka good health). Yet, when fluids are released through something such as perspiration not only can dehydration occur but many essential minerals are lost as well, potassium being a prominent one. 

Before you turn to a doctor for a pharmaceutical fix, see if these low potassium warnings might be alleviated through taking a potassium supplement and/or eating more potassium rich foods. 

Mood Swings

Low potassium, technically called hypokalemia, has been linked to changes in mood. If you feel your mood is “off ” more often than not you might need to increase potassium. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition stated that, 

“There was a greater improvement in depression, tension, vigor and the POMS [Profile of Mood States] global score for the LNAHK [low-sodium, high-potassium] diet compared to OD [Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)-type diet]. Higher cortisol levels were weakly associated with greater vigor, lower fatigue, and higher levels of urinary potassium and magnesium. In conclusion, a LNAHK diet appeared to have a positive effect on overall mood.”


Sometimes, you can determine low potassium by the way your legs, feet and arms occasionally experience tingling numbness. Medicine Health reported patient testimonials that showed the many facets of low potassium symptoms. 

This is the testimonial of one female patient approximately 64 years old: 

“I have been getting excruciating leg cramps. Sometimes I get a warning of pain in the groin area but later with no warning at all. I get pins and needles in hands and arms…Finally I got results of low potassium,”

If you experience constant tingling in your legs, feet, and arms ask your doctor for a potassium test.

Muscle Pain and Cramps

Known as rhabdomyolysis or rapid muscle breakdown, low potassium could result in muscle pain and cramps. This is an occurrence often found in the elderly as limited nutrition and hydration can be an issue. However, it may also affect younger patients as well. 

A study titled,  ‘Hypokalemia induced rhabdomyolysis’ by researchers from the Department of Medicine, Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Sewagram, Wardha, India and published in the ‘Indian Journal of Nephrology’ concluded that,

“Potassium plays a major role in regulating the skeletal muscle blood flow; an increased potassium concentration in the muscle during muscle activity causes vasodilatation, which increases the regional blood flow. In a state of hypokalemia, this increase is hampered causing relative ischemia [inadequate blood supply] in the active muscle consecutively leading to muscle cramps”

GI Problems: Bloating/Constipation

Low potassium could cause gastrointestinal (GI) compromise such as bloating or constipation. Balanced potassium in the gut is responsible for conveying signals to the brain to maintain proper digestion. When potassium is low these signals can become weak or unable to transmit. 

In a Johns Hopkins University paper on IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) it was stated that, 

“Maintenance of potassium balance is also assigned to the colon, where the epithelium absorbs and secretes potassium and bicarbonate.”

Maintaining good potassium levels through the consumption of potassium rich foods could help GI issues. 

Hypertension and Cardiac Disease

Systemic regulation relies on proper potassium levels, however when these are low, blood pressure and heart rhythm can be significantly effected.

The Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center at Oregon State University stated that, 

“Potassium is considered to be a “nutrient of public health concern” according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans since its underconsumption in the US population is associated with adverse health effects (hypertension and cardiovascular disease).”

Causes of Low Potassium

It is always a good idea to re-evaluate any clues your body may be displaying when it comes to low potassium. The Mayo Clinic reports on these major causes of hypokalemia:

  • Alcohol use (excessive)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Diarrhea
  • Diuretics (water retention relievers)
  • Excessive laxative use
  • Excessive sweating
  • Folic acid deficiency
  • Primary aldosteronism
  • Some antibiotic use
  • Vomiting

Foods High in Potassium

Always check with your doctor before taking potassium supplements as this mineral could contraindicate certain pharmaceuticals as well as heart and other systemic functions. Foods that are high in potassium can be added to your diet which may gently balance levels. This is a list of the best foods to consume for potassium absorption:

  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Coconut water
  • Swiss chard
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Yogurt
  • Salmon
  • Spinach
  • Tomato sauce
  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Beets
  • White beans

Pay attention to low potassium warnings. Remember that if these occur occasionally there probably shouldn’t be much concern but if symptoms are chronic (all the time) you may want to talk to your doctor about getting tested and possibly increasing potassium levels.