8 Signs and Symptoms of Potassium Deficiency (Hypokalemia)

Potassium is a mineral found mainly in the earth’s crust. It plays an essential role in many bodily processes such as muscle contraction, nerve transmission, heart beat and body temperature regulation. Potassium is necessary for normal brain function. If there isn’t enough potassium in the blood or urine, then vital functions may be impaired including mental abilities and even death. Potassium levels are measured with a test called K+ . The lower the number, the less potassium is present in the body. A normal amount of potassium is 2.5 milliequivalents per liter (mmol/L) of blood or 4 mmol/l (mg/dl), which is equal to 1.25 mg/dL.

Symptoms of Hypokalemic Hypotension:

Dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, confusion, fatigue, weakness and shakiness are some of the common signs and symptoms of hypokalemic hypotension. These symptoms usually occur within minutes to hours after eating a low potassium food. Dizziness occurs when potassium is not used properly; it causes the brain to slow down its activity causing a loss of consciousness.

It is very easy to overheat when afflicted with hypokalemic hypotension. This is called ‘sun poisoning’ and the body can become severely burned when in the sun for only a few minutes.

What causes low potassium?

The following are some of the causes and risk factors of a low potassium level (hypokalemia).

Dehydration results in less fluids in the body causing a loss of electrolytes such as potassium.

Loss of body fluids such as with vomiting and diarrhea causes a loss of potassium.

Lack of potassium in the diet is another common cause of low potassium in the blood.

Gastrointestinal bleeding can result from conditions like ulcers, Crohn’s disease and colitis. Many studies have also shown that even minor bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract (mouth and nose) may contribute to a low potassium level.

Burns, especially when they cover more than 10 percent of the body can lead to a low potassium level.

Diuretics are a common use in the treatment of heart disease and high blood pressure. These drugs cause the loss of essential nutrients such as potassium.


Some of the commonly known side effects of potassium are as follows:

Decrease in blood pressure

Muscle weakness.

Tingling or numbness may also occur in the hands and feet.

When taken with certain antibiotics, potassium can cause diarrhea.


Some of the commonly known side effects of Magnesium are as follows:


Flatulence (gas). This is caused when foods high in insoluble fiber pass through the digestive tract too quickly for the body to absorb enough water.



Vomiting and other symptoms of GI tract irritation

Burning Sensation in the mouth

WEAKENED BONES: Low magnesium levels can lead to Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones), a condition that makes them more likely to break.

HEART PROBLEMS: A low level of magnesium in the blood may lead to an irregular heartbeat and even trigger a heart attack.

Magnesium is also important for the proper functioning of muscles and nerves.

Also, a lack of magnesium can cause a buildup of calcium in soft tissues such as blood vessels, which can in turn lead to heart problems.

A magnesium deficiency can also cause high blood pressure, muscle tension and migraine headaches.

HYPOMAGNESEMIA: The body does not absorb enough magnesium from the diet, the kidneys lose the ability to retain magnesium or the body excretes too much of it through the urine.

THE LINUS PAULING METHOD: There are two types of cancer, says Pauling, one you get and one you don’t get. The one you get can be treated with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. The one you don’t get can be prevented by massive doses of Vitamin C and massive doses of vitamin C, he says, can also be used to treat the one you get.

The following is a list of possible side effects from taking high doeses of ascorbic acid (vitamin c).


Excess gas



Stomach pain or discomfort


Flushing of the skin or prickly feeling

Sleep difficulties (insomnia)

Mental depression

Personality changes or emotional instability.

Less common side effects of high doses of ascorbic acid (vitamin c)

Diabetes, when combined with daily doses of more than 4 grams.

A tendency to bruise more easily.

Kidney stone formation, when taken in doses exceeding 2.5 grams per day.

Benign changes in the cells of the interior part of the eye, which are detectable by examination but do not impair vision.

Allergic reactions, such as hay fever-like symptoms, hives or difficulty breathing.

A tendency to bleed or bruise more easily.

The above information is taken from the book “Vitamin C The Common Cold and The flu” By Irwin Stone with Linus Pauling.

The above information is not an endorsement of this book. The reader is encourage to do there own research into vitamin C.




Depression or apathy



Loss of appetite

Muscle aches or pain in the joints and muscles

Numbness or tingling in hands, feet or limbs

Strange dreams or sensations

Weakness or fatigue

WEAK IMMUNE SYSTEM: Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, are known to increase the activity of white blood cells that help fight off infection. People who have a diet low in antioxidants, therefore, may be more susceptible to illness.

Sources & references used in this article:

Hypokalemia by FJ Gennari – New England Journal of Medicine, 1998 – Mass Medical Soc

Genetic heterogeneity in tubular hypomagnesemia-hypokalemia with hypocalcuria (Gitelman’s syndrome) by A Bettinelli, MG Bianchetti, P Borella, E Volpini… – Kidney international, 1995 – Elsevier

Case report: tetany induced by hypokalemia in the absence of alkalosis by J Jacob, B De Buono, E Buchbinder… – The American journal of the …, 1986 – Elsevier

Body sodium and potassium. 5. The relationship of alkalosis, potassium deficiency and surgical stress to acute hypokalemia in man. Experiments and review of the … by FD Moore, EA Boling, HB Ditmore Jr, A Sicular… – Metabolism, 1955 – cabdirect.org

Mechanism of hypokalemia in magnesium deficiency by CL Huang, E Kuo – Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 2007 – Am Soc Nephrol

Potassium disorders: hypokalemia and hyperkalemia by AJ Viera, N Wouk – American family physician, 2015 – aafp.org

Hypokalemic myopathy and elevation of serum enzymes by G Van Horn, JB Drori, FD Schwartz – Archives of neurology, 1970 – jamanetwork.com

Paraplegia, hypokalemia and nephropathy, with muscle lesions of potassium deficiency, associated with thyrotoxicosis by LM Sanghvi, KD Gupta, K Banerjee… – The American journal of …, 1959 – amjmed.com

Glycyrrhizin (licorice)-induced hypokalemic myopathy by S Shintani, H Murase, H Tsukagoshi, T Shiigai – European neurology, 1992 – karger.com