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Side Effects of Potassium (Too much and too little potassium)


Our body needs potassium to function properly. Although there are health benefits of potassium, the side effects of potassium should also be taken into consideration.
According to Medline Plus, the Food and Nutrition Center of the Institute of Medicine recommends the following dietary intake for Potassium.  These amounts can be gotten from foods that contain potassium.
Infants
·         0 - 6 months: 0.4 grams a day (g/day)
·         7 - 12 months: 0.7 g/day
Children and Adolescents
·         1 - 3 years: 3 g/day
·         4 - 8 years: 3.8 g/day
·         9 - 13 years: 4.5 g/day
·         14 - 18 years: 4.7 g/day
Adults
·         Age 19 and older: 4.7 g/day
When we have too much or too little potassium in our body, there will be health effects such as hyperkalemia and hypokalemia.
Hyperkalemia
Too much potassium in our blood is known as hyperkalemia. According to Mayo Clinic, some of the causes of Hyperkalemia include acute kidney failure, chronic kidney disease, excessive potassium supplement, Type 1 Diabetes and high alcohol/drug use which will cause our muscle cells to breakdown resulting in the release of potassium in our blood stream.
Symptoms of hyperkalemia include:
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Breathing problems
  • Palpitations
  • Chest pain.
Hyperkalemia is dangerous because it can cause paralysis, nausea, abnormal heart rhythms and muscle fatigue.
Hypokalemia
This occurs when we have low potassium levels in blood. Some of the symptoms of hypokalemia include muscle cramps, irregular heartbeat, lack of energy and an abnormal ECG.  Hypokalemia can be caused by some of the following:
  • Severe loss of fluids through diarrhea and vomiting
  • Some kidney disorders
  • Taking too many laxatives
  • Taking medication to treat high blood pressure

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