Friday, June 15, 2018

Fibromyalgia, Part 2: Potassium likes me. A lot.

I'm just winging it here, sister, but potassium seems to be helping with my Fibromyalgia-related symptoms. Most notably, my digestive issues and sleep and muscle aches. I stumbled across something about potassium being necessary for stored fat metabolism, then looked for a list of foods high in potassium and realized...ACK! I haven't been eating any of those. It seems I was consuming fewer than 1,000 mg of potassium each day.

Next I learned that potassium and sodium levels are supposed to be balanced with magnesium and calcium and other electrolytes. And I began to wonder if low potassium was causing electrolyte imbalance--sweating, dizziness, nausea--during my bike rides. Or maybe I was merely inducing illness in myself because of the cacophonous color scheme of my cycling jerseys?

Admit it. I look like Spiderwoman.
By now you have forgotten to give a flying fig about me, my bike rides and my nausea. Instead, you are wondering, well, 1,000 mg of potassium a day, is that, like, low? Is it very low? Give us some context here. Stop talking about yourself, girl, and tell me, How many milligrams of potassium does one need each day?
I'm so glad you asked. I just wish someone on this planet had the answer. If you do an internet search, you will find answers ranging from 3,800 mg per day to 4,500 to 4,700 to 5,100. I guess the amount of potassium you need depends on your age, gender, physical condition and which country you live in and/or are brainwashed by.

But all of those numbers are higher than the <1,000 mg a day I was taking. This may not be an issue for you.  Potassium rich foods include bananas, potatoes and fries.  If you eat those regularly, your potassium level is probably fine.  If you don't eat those, and you want to raise your potassium levels, I have a few caveats for you.

In the United States it is illegal to sell supplements that contain more than 100 mg of potassium due to the fact that some people with kidney and/or heart conditions tend to take too much--probably because of some stupid advice they read on a blog post like this one--and it makes them very ill or dead. Maybe both.  So right now, while you are still alive and/or conscious, would be a good moment for me to reiterate:  rather than take any capsules, just try to eat more eggs, chicken, spinach and melon.  And get your electrolyte levels checked by your doctor. Because potassium citrate supplements (which I take) could land you in the Emergency Room.  Just because I'm doing them doesn't mean you should. If I jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too? Depends on how long our bungee cords are, am I right? Just kidding.  We don't have the energy for bungee jumping.

No, seriously. Your medical conditions may not be the same as mine. You'll want to do your own research and talk to your own doctors before changing your routine because both magnesium and potassium can really do a number on IBS-D as well as other conditions that tend to show up in people with Fibromyalgia. If you do end up taking potassium supplements, there are many types. Check the Mayo Clinic web site. They list a staggering number of them. Also, why does this blog program keep changing my freaking font and spacing? But I digress.

I could have been in 
Tour de France if I'd had 
enough potassium.

I bring up potassium for another reason. Potassium deficiency can cause weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps and constipation. Those symptoms are pretty common in those with Fibromyalgia. What if--just humor me, here--what if some people who have been diagnosed with Fibro actually have potassium deficiency instead? What if eating bananas, baked potatoes and spinach omelets--which all contain potassium--makes all or some of the Fibro symptoms disappear? What if donuts and cheesecake contain potassium? What if eating large amounts of decadent pastries cures us of potassium deficiency and then Random House contacts me and demands that I sign a half million dollar contract for the rights to publish one of my novels and then everyone dashes into my Etsy shop and buys five tastefully handmade scarves in shades of green and/or teal blue and Santa Claus brings me a BMW for Christmas and world hunger gets solved tomorrow and Democrats and Republicans all start to work together for a brighter and better America? We just don't know. But I will keep eating spinach salads and hope for the best.

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