Potassium has a chemical element name of K and an atomic number name of 19. It is a chemical ailment that was first derived from plant ashes, but also occurs naturally in ionic salts. It has a number of commercial uses and can be found in products like fertilizer and gun powder. It also is an important dietary element and can be found in foods like bananas, squash, white potatoes, and beans.
People are advised to consume at least 4700 mg of potassium each day. Women who are nursing should consume at least 5100 mg each day to ensure their own health and that of their infants.

Signs of a Potassium Deficiency

When people fail to consume enough potassium, they are at risk for a number of different conditions. Minor symptoms of potassium deficiency range from leg cramps to nausea. More serious complications of this mineral deficiency include chronic constipation, fatigue, heart palpitations, facial and limb numbness, and vomiting.

People also may feel overly fatigued and find it necessary to nap often in order to feel better. Doctors most often treat potassium deficiency by prescribing vitamin supplements and monitoring patients' diets until their mineral levels are restored.

Potassium Excess

People who consume too much potassium likewise are a risk for a number of different symptoms. Potassium toxicity is also known as hyperkalemia, or high blood potassium. The symptoms of hyperkalemia mimic those of potassium deficiency and include weakness, fatigue, nausea, and muscle spasms.

However, it can also cause more serious complications like kidney stones, renal failure, and the rejection of transplanted organs. Like potassium deficiency, this condition is treated through dietary changes and monitoring of patients until potassium levels return to normal. Patients also may be told to drink bicarbonates of soda regularly to help lower their potassium levels.