Signs & Symptoms of Low B12 With Low Potassium

Updated June 13, 2017

Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin found in some foods and added to others, and it is available in vitamin supplement and prescription form. Our bodies require B12 for healthy and proper red blood cell formation. Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte that controls the fluid balance of the body and is important for muscle contraction and energy generation. Deficiencies in B12 and potassium cause similar symptoms.

Symptoms of Low Potassium

General feelings of fatigue and muscle weakness are among the most common signs of low potassium. Because potassium plays a major role in smooth muscle contraction, low levels often lead to muscle twitches and spasms, as is seen in restless leg syndrome and sudden charley horse cramps that wake you up in the middle of the night. Not only do low potassium levels contribute to overall tired and achy feelings, but they may also affect mood, increasing irritability and anxiety.

Symptoms of Low B12

Anemia, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, constipation and weakness are just a few of the signs and symptoms that occur with vitamin B12 deficiency. Other symptoms include depression, poor memory, dementia, problems with balance, and mouth or tongue soreness. B12 deficiency has also been shown to affect neurological changes, which causes numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.

B12 Interaction with Potassium

Many of the signs and symptoms of B12 and potassium deficiencies are similar, but a problem with low B12 is that upon initial supplement therapy, it may actually cause potassium levels to drop significantly, which can cause arrhythmia (heart beat irregularities). People who have borderline or low potassium levels who are starting B12 supplementation should take potassium supplements before they begin B12 therapy.

Prevention Recommendations

According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, "Nutrient needs should be met primarily through consuming foods. Foods that are naturally rich in vitamin B12 are liver, beef, clams and most breakfast cereals. The recommended daily allowance for B12 is 2.4mcg. The most well-known potassium-rich fruits are bananas, though apricots, raisins and figs all contain more than twice the amount they do. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended daily allowance of potassium is 3,500mg.

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About the Author

Alison Stellner, owner of Body Tune Personal Training, is a fitness instructor and freelance writer with more than 25 years in the health and fitness industry. Her first professional article was published in "Idea Today Fitness Magazine" in 1993. She majored in music and business administration at the University of Oklahoma.