Fibromyalgia can be a debilitating condition with no definitive cause and varying treatment methods. Research on causes and effective treatments for this condition is limited, with inconclusive results. A healthy diet rich in nutrients is one suggested treatment option. One nutrient that could help manage fatigue and muscle-related symptoms is potassium. Low potassium, or hypokalemia, produces symptoms associated with, or mistaken for, fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a common disorder that affects individuals age 20 to 50, with a higher prevalence in women. It often involves widespread and chronic pain. The pain occurs in muscles, tender spots and joints, and results in stiffness, a limited ability to exercise, difficulty performing daily living activities without pain and depression or anxiety. Headaches, sleep problems and mood disturbances often go along with it. The exact causes for the disorder are unknown, and treatment often mean lifestyle changes and practicing relaxation techniques.
Each one of your cells has more potassium than calcium, magnesium or any other mineral. Cellular fluid balance, blood pressure, proper nerve impulse signals and hormone secretion require potassium. In particular, muscle function cannot happen without the correct potassium levels in the body. The optimum daily intake for adult men and women is between 99 to 300 mg. More than 18 g per day is considered toxic and may cause muscle fatigue and heart malfunction.
Low Potassium Symptoms
Low or deficient potassium causes muscle spasms, cramping, rigidity and other symptoms. Depending upon how low your potassium is, the muscular effects could be mild or quite severe. In extreme hypokalemia, muscle damage may lead to rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle cells, or even lung paralysis.
Potassium and Licorice
Licorice is often recommended for those with chronic fatigue, a symptom associated with fibromyalgia, but it is important to watch overconsumption.The regular consumption of licorice or products containing licorice such as teas can lead to a syndrome in which potassium is severely affected. Consuming licorice in excess of 30 g daily puts you at risk for high blood pressure, low blood potassium and extreme muscle weakness. Ingesting lower amounts for more than four weeks could also be harmful, especially if you have a condition like high blood pressure.
Fibromyalgia and Low Potassium
No scientific evidence links potassium and fibromyalgia. Some medical professionals do not associate the two at all. However, those with fibromyalgia are encouraged to avoid caffeine. Not only does caffeine increase anxiety, it depletes the body of potassium. Since low potassium levels can lead to extreme fatigue, which is also a major symptom of fibromyalgia, potassium intake or supplementation can be an important part of fibromyalgia treatment. Too little potassium can increase fluid inside the body, leading to a cycle of inflammation and pain. More sodium will exaggerate this response.