A study published in the article Beneficial Effects of High Potassium for the clinical journal Hypertension shows that a diet that focuses on potassium reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. At the same time, a lack of this potassium, also called hypokalemia, can lead to a sharp deterioration in health.
We know that calcium is important for the well-being of a person, but not many know that potassium is also equally necessary. In this article, we will tell you how potassium deficiency affects the well-being of women and what they should do about it.
How Potassium Deficiency Affects Women’ Health
If you are deficient in potassium, several signs may appear. It is important to pay attention to these signs as they may indicate that it’s time to consult a doctor.
1. You May Feel Weak
Potassium affects how the body processes nutrients – the less it is, the slower it absorbs beneficial supplements. A 2016 Purdue University study found that a lack of potassium leads to an increase in blood sugar. Deficiency impairs the production of insulin, which is exactly what is needed to process carbohydrates.
Potassium also helps in the regulation of muscle function. An insufficient amount of the element can lead to a general drop in tone or even disruption of the heart.
2. Sudden Cramping Occurs
Sometimes a potassium deficiency leads to a disruption in the connections between muscles and the brain. With normal consumption of the substance, signals from the central nervous system get instantly perceived by the rest of the body.
Otherwise, longer contractions occur, which are called spasms. It may bring muscle pain and a feeling of stiffness. Due to a lack of potassium, a condition called rhabdomyolysis, the destruction of muscle cells, can occur. It becomes the cause of severe discomfort.
The higher your level of exertion, the faster the amount of potassium in the body decreases. As a preventive measure, make it a rule to consume foods high in the element before an intense workout.
3. You May Have Digestive Problems
One of the reasons that the gastrointestinal tract becomes worse in processing food is a lack of potassium. Due to its deficiency, a decrease in the contractions in the digestive system occurs. Experts at the University of West Virginia found that too low of potassium in the body can cause the intestines to even stop completely.
4. Tingling Or Numbness Occurs In The Limbs
The appearance of numbness and tingling in the limbs is called paresthesia. Low potassium is also one of the reasons for its appearance. The deficiency weakens nerve signals and creates the feeling that the arms or legs are not responding. By itself, paresthesia is not harmful, but the same numbness or feeling of white noise in the body can signal serious changes in the body.
5. It Becomes Harder To Breathe
Potassium also affects the connection between the brain and the lungs. It allows the transmission of signals that cause the respiratory system to contract and expand.
When the level of potassium in the blood is below average, the lungs cannot work properly; hence, shortness of breath occurs. A severe deficiency, as with digestion, can lead to breathing problems and later even death
6. Mood Changes
Sometimes the changes in the brain caused by a lack of potassium also affect lead to several mental disorders. Research published in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry draws attention to the fact that a deficiency of potassium was found in 20% of patients with disorders of the nervous system.
If you notice sleep problems, sudden outbursts of anger or apathy, a general decrease in tone, this is a reason to reconsider your eating habits. You must include foods rich in potassium, such as potatoes, peas, cucumbers, in your diet.
How Much Potassium Does Your Body Need
The need for potassium also depends on age. For example, children under six months should receive 400 mg per day, up to 8 years – 2000-2300 mg. It is recommended for adolescents to increase the amount to 2500-2800 mg, for adults – to 3200 mg.
It is not necessary to take a potassium supplement – this is required in severe cases. You should get most of the potassium required for your body from the food you eat.
Potassium Containing Foods
It is enough to increase the number of foods with a high content of potassium to recover from its deficiency. For example, just 100 grams of banana or avocado contains 17-25% of the daily value of the substance. Other potassium-rich foods include:
- Sunflower seeds
- Milk products
What Hinders Absorption Of Potassium?
When rebuilding your diet, remember that it will be much more difficult for the body to absorb potassium if you often consume alcohol, sweets, black tea, or coffee. Thus, refrain from consuming these drinks more often. If it is difficult for you to give up alcohol, there are different types of rehabs available for different people for assistance; you must contact them.
Getting help from experts may help in giving up addiction. Other than these drinks, a sedentary lifestyle also hinders the absorption of necessary elements and nutrients in the body. Thus, try to move around more, meditate, get involved in sports, to have a good metabolism.
Lack of excessive amounts of potassium in the body can cause severe health consequences. Thus, look for the signs mentioned above; if they appear in combination, visit your doctor. Only through a doctor’s diagnosis, it can be identified whether a person is deficient in potassium or not. Remember not to change the diet plan on your own. It is a good idea to consult a dietitian before changing your diet. He will help you find the optimal menu to fill the deficit.