Health

7 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Potassium

Tired all the time? Aches and pains? You could be low on this vital mineral.

When you hear “potassium,” you probably think bananas. It’s true that bananas are a potassium powerhouse, but there are plenty of other foods rich in the mineral too. Despite this, you may not be consuming as much of it as you need to. The Food and Nutrition Center of the Institute of Medicine recommends adults 19 and older get 4,700 milligrams of potassium every day.

Why is the mineral so important for our bodies? Potassium is an electrolyte that helps our cells work correctly—we need it for everything from building muscle and breaking down carbohydrates to keeping our hearts healthy, according to MedlinePlus.

Worried you’re low on potassium? Here are seven signs you might not be getting enough.

1. You Are Tired… All The Time

We all have those days when we’re just too tired to function, but are you tired constantly? Not enough potassium may be the culprit. If you seem to be getting plenty of sleep but are still exhausted, consider setting up a doctor’s appointment to get your potassium levels checked.

sleepy photo
Photo by futureshape

2. You Don’t Eat Enough Fresh Foods

I know, I know—that new flavor of Oreos is a-maz-ing. But, guess what? They’re probably not full of potassium. The fresher the foods you consume, the higher your potassium intake is likely to be. So, choose fresh over packaged and see if you notice a difference.

oranges photo
Photo by fred_v

3. You Have High Blood Pressure

Potassium lessens the effects of excess sodium, so it’s critical to consume enough in order to keep your blood pressure in check and at a healthy level. This is especially true if you tend to eat a lot of sodium-heavy meals, such as fast or processed foods.

blood pressure photo
Photo by quinn.anya

4. You Feel Faint Or Dizzy

Yep, if you often feel dizzy or light-headed, you may need more potassium in your diet. If this happens frequently, you should definitely consult your doctor, as further testing may be required.

blood pressure photo
Photo by NIHClinicalCenter

5. You Have Muscle Aches And Pains

Potassium helps build muscle, so if you’re having cramping, exhaustion and muscle pain, take note—low potassium may be to blame. While a call to your doctor should be the first place to start, long, strenuous activity is often related to a loss of potassium. Get your levels tested to find out if that may be the case for you.

hurt knee photo
Photo by AngryJulieMonday

6. You Have Numbness And Tingling

If you experience numbness and tingling, especially in your hands, fingers, arms, feet or legs, it may be due to low potassium levels. There are a host of other potential reasons you could experience these symptoms, so if this is something you experience regularly, check with your doctor to be sure.

hands photo
Photo by Leana~

7. You Have Heart Palpitations

Do you sometimes feel that your heart skips a beat or suddenly races? Yes, maybe you just had one too many cups of coffee, but if it’s a recurring issue, try adding more potassium into your diet—and call your doctor, of course.

Flickr/wp paarz

Okay, you have figured out that you need more potassium in your life. Now what?

As you already know, bananas—the “Most Popular Fruit” according to the USDA and Economic Research Service (ERS)—are a great place to start.

But let’s say you’re banana-less at the moment. Some additional sources of potassium include:

  • All meats (from red meat to chicken)
  • Fish (from salmon to sardines)
  • Dairy (from milk to yogurt)
  • Soy products
  • Fruit (from citrus fruit to apricots and prunes)
  • Vegetables (from lima beans to potatoes, particularly the skin)

You’ll find potassium is in a lot of everyday foods you’re probably already consuming. So while you may not need to wildly overhaul your diet, you may just need to consumer more of them!

You can check out a list of more potassium-rich foods here.