Bananas are rich in potassium. But you might not be aware of the critical role this mineral plays within the body. Potassium helps in fluid regulation and muscle contraction. Additionally, potassium can reduce the negative effects of excess sodium intake–a problem that most Americans face.
According to the US Food & Drug Administration, the average American adult consumed 3,400 mg of salt daily in 2022. This is nearly half the amount recommended for 2,300 milligrams. The body can flush out sodium by eating a potassium-rich diet.
It can also relax blood vessel walls, which in turn helps lower blood pressure. According to a 2018 review in the journal Clinical Nutrition, increasing your potassium intake and decreasing your sodium intake can reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
Lauren Blake, RD, a dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Hospital, stated that if you eat a lot of food in a box or bag, you are almost certain to be low on potassium. Increasing your intake of whole fruits, vegetables, and other nutrients will help you reach the 4,700 mg per day recommended by experts. Other foods like yogurt and clams have high levels of potassium. If you think you may need more potassium, you should consult your healthcare provider.
Some people do not feel any reductions in blood potassium levels. According to the National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus resource, there are signs to be aware of before the decrease becomes severe. Hypokalemia is a condition that causes potassium to drop.
You’re Always Tired
Blake explained that potassium deficiency can lead to energy problems and the inability to sleep enough. Blake explained that every cell of your body requires the right amount of potassium to function properly. Potassium could be the reason you feel more tired, even if you know you’re getting enough sleep.
However, you should not assume that a potassium deficiency is to blame. You should also be aware of any other symptoms.
Smooth muscle contraction is a key function of potassium, both in the heart as well as throughout the body. Blake stated that low potassium levels can cause “aches and spasms” during the day, or when exercising. MedlinePlus says that you may experience muscle damage.
Feeling Tingly, Faint, or Dizzy
Potassium levels can fluctuate throughout the day. A large amount of potassium can cause a slowing of your heartbeat and make you feel faint. Blake stated that although this isn’t common and can be caused by many factors, it is important to consult your doctor if you have any concerns.
You should not ignore the tingling in your arms and legs. Numbness may also be a possibility.
You’re Bloated or Constipated All the Time
Constipation is the first symptom of hypokalemia listed on MedlinePlus, so it’s something to watch for. Additionally, when you’re low on potassium, your body struggles to regulate its sodium levels, which can cause salt-induced bloating.