Can Low Potassium Cause Seizures?

Author: Staff Writer
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Low potassium does NOT cause seizures.

Potassium bromide and other potassium compounds have a long history of use in the control of seizures, yet medical authorities do not consider that potassium deficiency presents the risk of seizures. In the body, potassium is primarily responsible for contraction of voluntary and involuntary muscles, such as the heart. It is also important in building muscles and the digestion of proteins. Potassium plays a role in adjusting sodium levels in the cells through the potassium-sodium ion pump, which is in turn important for pH balance.

Risks of Potassium Deficiency

There is a very low risk of deficiency in this mineral due to its abundance in common food sources. All meats and dairy products contain it. A wide range of vegetables, fruits and legumes are also excellent sources. Practically, this means a deficiency in potassium is almost always matched by a deficiency in other essential vitamins and minerals. The conditions where potassium deficiency is most likely bear out this hypothesis. The people at highest risk are malnourished, which tends to result from eating disorders, chronic diarrhea, malabsorption of food, or excessive sweating.

 Medically Defined Effects of Potassium Deficiency

Hypokalemia is the scientific term for low potassium levels in the blood. This condition is typified by increase in blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat and muscle atrophy or general weakness. The condition may be caused by use of diuretics, laxatives, and kidney or endocrine disorders.

Other Possibilities

A deficiency in potassium rarely occurs without simultaneous micro- and macro-nutrient deficiencies. This provides a clue into why potassium is seen as the source of seizures. Investigative research has discovered many contributors to seizure activity, including deficiencies in amino acids, vitamin D, and sodium as well as impaired glucose transport to the brain. The role of potassium deficiency in seizures is not clinically proven.


Works Cited

Am J Physiol. 1996
Indispensable amino acid deficiency and increas...

U S Food and Drug Administration
Potassium Bromide: Is It Safe for Dogs?

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
Potassium in diet

University of Maryland Medical Center


Medline Plus-US National Library of Medicine

purplearrowExpert Opinion

Quote:  "For over a century, potassium bromide, or KBr, has been used in human and veterinary medicine as an anti-seizure medication. Phenobarbital, or PB, has also been used for years to treat seizures. Despite both drugs' long history of common use, neither is approved by FDA to treat seizures in people or animals."

Source:  Potassium Bromide: Is It Safe for Dogs?   Food and Drug Administration 

purple arrowCite this Article

"Can Low Potassium Cause Seizures?." Sophisticated Edge. N.p., n.d. Web. . <>.  

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