Potassium Deficiency: A cause of Insomnia, Hypothyroidism, and more

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Potassium is the mineral that NO ONE is talking about!

I think it’s safe to say that we have an epidemic of people in burnout these days.  Nearly every HTMA test I have seen shows low adrenal and thyroid activity, as well as tanked potassium. Ideal potassium on the HTMA is 10 and I get people with mostly 1’s and 2’s.  Potassium is also involved in 2 very important ratios on the HTMA: The thyroid ratio (calcium/potassium) and the Vitality ratio (sodium/potassium). Both of these ratios are important for energy levels, sleep, and overall health.

All about Potassium:

Potassium needs to be balanced with sodium and magnesium. Calcium and potassium are very antagonistic- most people have very high calcium with low potassium.  Most sources claim we need at least 4700 mg of potassium a day! In a modern diet, most people barely reach the 1000mg mark, so many people are lacking in this important mineral. It is very hard to get the proper amount without consciously making an effort. Downloading a free calorie counting app like My Fitness Pal can help you track your typical potassium intake so you can try to adjust it as needed.

Potassium is needed for the proper functioning of cell, muscle contraction, carbohydrate metabolism, nerve impulses, energy metabolism, and to balance hypertension.  We can lose potassium under stress and with detoxing.  We need Vitamin A (from animal sources- think cod liver oil, eggs, butter, and organ meats) to help retain potassium. Vitamin A is another underappreciated deficiency! Since potassium and vitamin A have such a close relationship, a lot of the deficiency signs overlap.

Low potassium levels are associated with:

  • excessive thirst
  • irregular heartbeat
  • insomnia (a potassium level under 4 on HTMA is a HUGE cause of insomnia)
  • depression
  • dry skin
  • salt retention
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • low cortisol
  • fatigue
  • brain fog
  • constipation
  • numbness/tingling (limbs constantly falling asleep)
  • Weak muscles
  • bloating
  • allergies
  • low blood sugar (especially upon awakening)
  • Sugar cravings

My list of high potassium foods: feel free to save and share!

Potassium Rich Foods

I tend to not recommend potassium supplements because they aren’t worth the money. Most only have 99mg of potassium per serving because too much straight potassium can be hard on the gut, and can even cause heart issues. Food is safer and more abundant 🙂

Potassium Broth Recipe

One of the BEST ways to increase potassium is potassium broth! I usually go by this recipe as a base, but this is generally how I make it:

  • Organic potato peels from about 3-4 potatoes, with no eyes (can use sweet potato peels if needed)
  • 3-4 chopped organic carrots
  • 3-4 chopped celery stalks
  • 1 bunch fresh, organic parsley
  • Optional additions: garlic cloves, onions, or clean seaweed source (I use this dulse from Maine Coast Sea Veggies)

Put all ingredients (except the parsley) in a large pot and fill with water (anywhere from 2-4 quarts of water, depending on the size of your pot). Boil the contents, switch heat to low, and then simmer for about 30 minutes. Throw the parsley in there for another 5 minutes, and then you’re done.

Strain the veggies out (you can compost them!) and store the liquid in the fridge or freezer. You can reheat small amounts as needed or use them in soups, stews, etc. Aim for 1/2 cup-1 cup a day, and you can increase if it tastes good to you and if you’re feeling good with it! Some of my clients felt significant results within a few days of this broth: better energy, less brain fog, and better sleep are among the most common reactions!

More notes on Potassium:

On the HTMA, the thyroid ratio is for Calcium/Potassium. Ideal ratio is 4. I often see it at 30+, and every so often I see it at 200 or more! If you were to look at a list of hypothyroid symptoms next to a list of potassium deficiency symptoms you’ll see how identical they are. We need potassium to make our cells more permeable for thyroid hormones!
Potassium is also the mineral most closely related to cortisol. For many people, low potassium correlates to a low overall cortisol output, while high potassium usually points to high cortisol. (Not in all instances, but it gives us a good idea on this.)
Excess, unbound copper can lower or waste potassium. Adding in extra potassium can also induce copper dumping, which is why I usually have people start low with introducing potassium.
We need vitamin A for potassium retention, we need healthy livers and adrenals to properly utilize vitamin A (because everything is so connected!). Vitamin A sources include beef liver, cod liver oil, eggs. and butter.
Potassium RDA depending on age:
Age 1-3 = 400 mg daily
Age 4-8 = 3800 mg daily
Age 9-13 = 4500 mg daily
Above 13 = 4700 mg daily
Lactating women = 5100 mg daily
Most people get *maybe* half of this if they are eating a typical healthy diet.

Read more about potassium:

Potassium by Dr. Malter

A Persistent Low Sodium/Potassium Ratio- ARL Labs

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10 Replies to “Potassium Deficiency: A cause of Insomnia, Hypothyroidism, and more”

  1. Thanks for all the Great articles Kristen, and always enjoy your take on the very mysterious mineral matrix and HTMA. I too find that everyone of my patients is in burnout which is more the norm these days showing our country is in a sad state of health. Also, everybody is popping Vit D like candy which raises Ca and lowers K which is just another one of the many reasons for this low k which I now you have talked about in the past, but it is intriguing seeing an entire nation in burnout. When the roman empire fell the citizens too were also in burnout from lead (saturn)in the pipes, the only difference is we have copper(venus) in the pipes, but the end result is still the same, which is a complete collapse of the energy systems, I think we drank the Kool aid, as they are preparing us for a total collapse(emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually) as all roads lead to rome and empire america(the new Rome) has run its course, and our masters(WHO EVER THEY ARE) can direct the world into the next phase of its agenda in which the smart money’s on a major change is about to happen. Whether good or bad will depend on the state of our mental and physical health which makes the work we do more important during this tumultuous and interesting epoch in human history…

    1. I’m so honored that you follow me Dr. Seelig, thank you for your comments! I am trying my best to get the word out there about minerals. People think that nutrients are just an after-thought and we really need to get out of that mindset. That is scary to know that Rome was the same way as far as burnout. We can only hope that if what you say is true that our next phase will be bringing us back to basics and common sense.

    2. Some say that our blood used to be copper based in prehistoric times and do we need to intake copper more than we need iron. Also some say we need copper and not iron to raise ferritin
      Is there any truth to it?

  2. I too have had this issue. My kidneys were dumping Potassium as fast as I could get it in. I eventually realized it was a mitochondria issue. I got a NutrEval and found out I was severely deficient in b5, I added that and a few other b’s in and everything leveled out, I quit dumping all my K. It was as if I never had adrenal issues and ask my POTS issues went away!

  3. Do you know how much potassium is in dandelion root decoctions, oat straw or linden flower infusions? I am incorporating these into my daily diet. I love your website and FB page. Thank you for all you do, I appreciate it.

  4. Thank you for your post. I will link to it on my related blog post!
    I use potassium gluconate in the summer to combat the loss from sweating. It is hard to explain why deficiencies occur in a mineral that is so abundant in plant foods, but I think it has a lot to do with dumping from adrenal malfunction, and hypoglycemia. I wrote about my use of PG for heat relief here: https://leadstohealth.com/summer-heat-solution/ As long as you have normal kidney function, supplementing is a good idea since depleted potassium in tissues is never seen on a blood test and is always a negative circumstance to be avoided

    1. The problem with potassium supplementation lies with the gut irritation unfortunately. I don’t advocate it for most people especially if they have signs of gut inflammation. Food sources are more abundant and safer, plus you’re getting more than just the potassium 🙂

    1. HI Neil: No I don’t, it’s just something I’ve picked up, mostly with hearing other peoples’ experiences. Many experience severe gut pain and I have heard from a few that actually fainted after taking straight potassium supplements. This is why potassium supplements are regulated in the US-they can be hard on the gut and heart. I know plenty that take them and do well, but this is just my stance on things. Not worth the risk when most potassium supplements are only 99mg per serving.

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