Potassium deficiency pops up

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A trio of ingredients found in some popular beverages has been linked to increased incidence of hypokalaemia, a potassium deficiency that can cause an abnormal heartbeat and muscle breakdown, weakness, and spasms.

Lately, more and more doctors have noted a jump in potassium deficiency. Upon review of cases, a common link appeared: Excessive consumption of cola drinks. Patients showing signs of potassium deficiency drank in the range of 2 to 9 liters - 68 to 300 ounces - of cola drinks daily. Their symptoms included fatigue, appetite loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle weakness.

Cola drinks, like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, are coloured with caramel and were once flavoured from the extracts of the kola nut. Nowadays, cola drinks usually contain glucose, fructose, and caffeine.

In the review report, published in International Journal of Clinical Practice (IJCP), caffeine intoxication was thought to play the most important role in the deficiency. Still, even caffeine-free varieties can cause diarrhea, which may trigger the deficiency. The cumulative effect of all three ingredients may be the key, though the effect on individuals varies. Further studies are recommended.

The patients studied all recovered once they cut the cola and took potassium supplements. And yet Dr. Moses Elisaf (Department of Internal Medicine, University of Ioannina, Greece) issued a warning.

via e! Science News: “Excessive consumption of any kind of cola can lead to a range of health problems including fatigue, loss of productivity and muscular symptoms that vary from mild weakness to profound paralysis.”

Keep that in mind while you read this little soft drink stat: Worldwide consumption of soft drinks in 2007 reached over 550 billion litres, or 83 litres per person per year. And the US average has already hit 212 litres per person annually!

I don’t touch the stuff unless I’m eating pizza or burgers, so I’m way over on the low end of the global pop spectrum. But I know people who down one pop after another, and the numbers quickly add up. What’s your cola and soft drink consumption like?

Related information
Potassium quick facts
Are you addicted to caffeine?
Too Much Cola Can Cause Muscle Problems

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One Response to “Potassium deficiency pops up”

  1. I am a 62 year old male with a polyneuropathy. No cause has been found in 7 years. I’m wondering if the answer is a collection of small malidies and perhaps potassium Deficiency might be on?

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