A potassium deficiency, also called hypokalemia, can actually cause your hair to fall out. High-salt diets cause excess sodium accumulation around the hair follicles, preventing the absorption of vital nutrients required for healthy hair. This, in turn causes hair loss. Increasing potassium intake will remove excess sodium and eliminate the potassium deficiency and resulting hair loss.
Eliminating Potassium Deficiency
Eliminating a potassium deficiency is best accomplished by increasing the amount of potassium-rich foods in the diet. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for potassium is 4,700 mg per day. Considering that a banana only contains about 450 mg of potassium (depending on the size of the banana), more potassium-rich foods are required to increase potassium in the diet.
There is an intimate relationship between sodium and potassium in the human body. Both are positive ions--however, when ingested, potassium will replace sodium through the sodium-potassium pump in the kidneys. Sodium causes water retention and is at least partially to blame for high blood pressure, whereas potassium does not cause water retention and is actually recommended for reducing blood pressure. The sodium-potassium pump in the kidneys allows potassium to replace sodium when ingested and therefore reduce or eliminate the problem of hair loss.
Potassium-Rich Food Choices
Some additional food choices should include dairy foods, including milk, cheese and yogurt; meats such as beef, pork, chicken and fish; vegetables including broccoli, carrots, potatoes, yams and lima beans; grains such as whole grain breads, brown rice and wheat bran; fruits such as apricots, avocados, figs, apples and peaches; dried fruit such as raisins and dates; and even some melon such as cantaloupe.
Medications and the Pharmaceutical Industry
The pharmaceutical industry has made many attempts at eliminating hair loss. Some products provide supplemental potassium in higher dosages than are allowed in the supplement world as evidenced when visiting local health food stores. Still others are available as creams or foam, eliminating the sodium that accumulates around the hair follicle in those with a potassium deficiency. Many of these products work in the short run, but require constant use until the potassium deficiency is eliminated, and the resulting hair loss is brought to a halt.
Potassium-Rich Snacks and Seasonings
You may also want to season your food with garlic as well as adding some healthy snacks to your diet such as nuts or sunflower seeds. A well-rounded diet of potassium-rich foods is a vital step in eliminating a potassium deficiency that may cause hair loss.