One of many discoveries made by thyroid patients is that “normal” lab results don’t tell the whole story. And thyroid and adrenal patient advocate Valerie Taylor sure found out the hard way while dealing with worsening muscle spasms and weakness.
“I have been to at least 6 doctors over the past seven years and read thousands of websites, hunting for the cause of my severe muscle spasms”, explains Valerie. “They all ruled out potassium, a potentially likely cause, because my serum lab result, 4.2, was right smack in the middle of the normal range.”
So Valerie was forced to live with her worsening muscle issues– spasms, weakness and pain–because all labs were normal and those that weren’t, didn’t pertain. Even her insulin-dependent Type 2 Diabetes was well-controlled. And she knew it was all threatening to put her out of work as a pet groomer. It was bleak.
But a surprising change was to come.
“About 2 months ago,” says Valerie, “someone on one of my groups mentioned potassium helping with fluid retention–the latter I’ve had for the last 15 years and took Dyazide, a potassium sparing diuretic.”
She also learned about getting an RBC (red blood cell) potassium lab as it shows what’s inside the cells rather than in serum (as usual labs show). And the results? It came back LOW.
Valerie has since worked her way up to 2850 mg. Potassium in a combo of chloride and gluconate…and below, in her own words, are the results:
- No more muscle spasms and the weakness and pain is leaving more daily!
- My IBS suddenly STOPPED!
- My insulin needs are HALF what they were before this supplement, and blood pressure & pulse are both down.
- ALL fluid retention is gone! I dropped 18 pounds the first month in just fluid weight.
Valerie is currently waiting for lab results to see if she needs to adjust further.
She concludes: I have since learned that being hypothyroid causes potassium losses, as does ANY steroid which I had been on for necessary adrenal support. Diabetes with a low carb diet also predisposes us to lose intracellular potassium into the serum which is probably why my serum labs looked normal in the face of extreme shortage. I hope many will see this and at the very least get RBC potassium labs done and if you have high BP or fluid retention, reach for potassium before a diuretic!
Even without being inspired by Valerie’s discovery, there is good research out there for eating potassium rich foods, or like Valerie, using supplementation if your levels are low. The LA Times reported a study which stated that consuming twice as much potassium as sodium might halve your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, stated by epidemiologist Paul Whelton, president and chief executive of the Loyola University Health System in Chicago and one of the authors of the study.
Here’s a list of potassium rich foods: http://www.hoptechno.com/bookfoodsourceK.htm
Here’s a list of symptoms of low potassium: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/signs-and-symptoms-of-low-potassium.html
And remember: ask your doctor to do an Red Blood Cell Potassium lab rather than simply serum. And don’t go as high as Valerie with supplementation unless you have proof of low potassium.
P.S. Magnesium helps pump sodium out of your cells, and potassium into the cells–a good reason to get magnesium tested as well.
*Want to be informed of my blog posts? Curious what’s on my mind? Use the Notifications to the left and below the links.
*What is your experience with the newly formulated Armour? Found a way to get around the problems? Express your opinion in the May 7th blog post!