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What Causes Potassium Deficiency?

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A potassium deficiency is the lack of potassium in the body. There are many causes for this deficiency including illness and poor diet. When the body is unable to absorb potassium or does not receive potassium in foods, the result is a potassium deficiency.

Eating Disorders

One cause of a potassium deficiency is eating disorders. The two main eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia. Both cause potassium deficiency to occur in different ways. A deficiency of potassium in the body is caused by anorexia because the body is starved of valuable nutrients, vitamins and minerals including potassium. Without adequate consumption of foods rich in potassium, a deficiency occurs. Bulimia causes potassium deficiency differently. The excessive vomiting that is associated with bulimia does not allow the body to absorb the potassium the way it should.

Poor Diet

Poor diet can also cause potassium deficiency. Eating foods that are high in sodium can also cause a lack of potassium in the body. . When the body gets too much salt and not enough foods that are high in potassium, a deficiency can occur. Often the way food is cooked can also cause a loss of potassium, usually because the mineral is cooked out of the food either by boiling the food or frying the food.


Another cause of potassium deficiency is illness. Like excessive vomiting, excessive diarrhea can also cause the inability for the body to absorb potassium. Hyperthyroidism can also be a cause of potassium deficiency. The thyroid is the main gland for hormone production. When the thyroid produces too much hormone, it causes an imbalance in the minerals found in the body including potassium. Anemia is another cause of potassium deficiency. Crushing's Disease is an illness that causes potassium deficiency as well. Crushing's disease is when there are high levels of cortisol in the blood and it is caused by a non-cancerous tumor in the pituitary gland. With an abnormally high level of cortisol, it causes a drop in the potassium levels in the body.


Taking different medications can also cause a deficiency of potassium in the body. Medications that are known to cause potassium deficiency to occur include diuretics, different types of cortisone and blood pressure medications. When taking any of these medications alone or combined with other medications, potassium deficiency is known to be a possible side affect. Depending on the type of medication that is being taken the potassium deficiency can be caused by a problem absorbing potassium or an interference with how the potassium works within the body.

There are many causes of potassium deficiency. Some of those causes are eating disorders, poor diet, illness and taking different medications. Juat as there are different problems that cause potassium deficiency, there are also treatments for all of the causes. Seeking psychiatric attention for eating disorders, visiting a nutritionist to learn how to improve diet, talking to a health care professional such as a family doctor or specialist about illnesses, and possibly changing medication that cause potassium deficiency are all ways to deal with this problem. In many cases, with medical attention or a change in life style, having a potassium deficiency can be diminished or solved.

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