Potassium supplement high and low levels
January 20 2016 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Potassium is an element in the periodic table. It has the symbol K (Latin for kalium). The name "potassium" comes from the word "potash", as potassium was first isolated from potash. Potassium is a soft silvery-white metallic alkali metal that occurs naturally bound to other elements in seawater and many minerals.  With the exception of calcium and phosphorus, no other mineral is as abundant in the human body as potassium. Almost 98% of potassium is found inside the cells. You can buy a Potassium supplement at a reliable online supplement store.
     Potassium gets very little press, yet it's effective at lowering blood pressure ó and even a 1 to 2 percent reduction translates into a reduced risk of strokes. Potassium also helps reduce the incidence of kidney stones and heart arrhythmias. Potassium even appears to benefit bones by neutralizing acids in the bloodstream that leach calcium from bone deposits. For more information on how to treat high blood pressure naturally.

Potassium Daily Requirement
The current guidelines call for up to 5 grams a day, but most Americans don't get close. 

Potassium rich foods in what we eat
These include molasses, sweet yams, bananas, dates and figs, tomato juice, raisins, and apricots. Other good sources of potassium in food include cantaloupe, orange, and almonds. A single cup of sweet potato has 950 milligrams. Four figs add up to 540; a cup of cantaloupe, 500, and a glass of orange juice is 450 mg.

Potassium chloride supplement
Potassium chloride is in the class of drugs called potassium supplements which are used to treat low potassium conditions (hypokalemia) or prevent them from occurring. Potassium is the principal positive ion inside of the cells of the body and is used in nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and normal kidney function. Brand names include K-Dur, K-Lor, K-Tab, Kaon CL, Klorvess, Slow-K, Ten-K, Klotrix, K-Lyte CL and many others.

Potassium supplements might boost the survival of heart failure patients who are already taking diuretic drugs; University of Pennsylvania, news release, July 16, 2014.

Q. What is the difference between potassium citrate and potassium gluconate? Has one form been preferred over the other?
   A. There are many forms of potassium supplements and dozens of brands. Either form is acceptable. You may wish to alternate between them.

Potassium level
The normal level is 3.5-5.0 mEq/L. Low potassium is defined as a potassium level below 3.5 mEq/L. Almost 1 out of 5 people hospitalized in the United States have a low potassium level. Up to 14% of people otherwise seen in doctors' offices have slightly low potassium levels.

Low potassium- deficiency - hypokalemia
It is unlikely to have a dietary deficiency of potassium as it is present in a large number of foods. Deficiency can occur when there are large losses resulting from excessive urination or from prolonged vomiting and diarrhea. Low potassium can occur from the use of certain medicines. A potassium deficiency can also occur in those who adhere to a low potassium diet.

Drinking several liters of cola-containing soft drinks per day can cause a chronic depletion of potassium in the body, leading to muscle weakness and even paralysis.

Symptom of Low Potassium
A deficiency causes weakness, fatigue, heart rhythm problems, paralysis, and kidney dysfunction. 

High potassium level
Hyperkalemia occurs when the level of potassium in the bloodstream is higher than normal. This may be related to increase in total body potassium or excessive release of potassium from the cells into the bloodstream. The kidneys normally excrete excess potassium from the body. Therefore, most cases of hyperkalemia are caused by disorders that reduce the kidneys' ability to excrete potassium. These conditions inlcude acute kidney failure, chronic kidney failure, lupus nephritis, rejection of a kidney transplant, obstructive uropathy, and glomerulonephritis.

High potassium level in the blood is a frequent electrolyte disorder associated with life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death. Patients prone to hyperkalemia have chronic kidney disease either alone or in conjunction with diabetes or heart failure. Although agents inhibiting the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone-system (RAAS) are currently the first-line treatments toward cardio- and nephroprotection, their administration often leads to potassium elevation in such patients and results in high rates of treatment discontinuation.

Potassium citrate and osteoporosis
Do potassium citrate supplements increase bone density? Two recent studies provide conflicting answers. It is not clear at this time whether potassium citrate supplements offer any additional benefit to vitamin D and calcium supplements in terms of osteoporosis treatment.

Taking potassium citrate, a base, to neutralize the high acidity of typical Western diets has been promoted to increase bone mass in postmenopausal women with thinning bones. "Our results demonstrate for the first time that merely by partially reversing the acidity of the diet, bone mass increased rapidly and in amounts that are within the range of increase produced by common FDA-approved medicines," says Dr. Reto Krapf, from the University of Basel in Switzerland. The effect of continuously high acid levels on bone formation is controversial, but there is some evidence to suggest that they are associated with a drop in bone mineral density. Thus, neutralizing high acidity might increase bone mass. The current study involved 161 women with sub-par bone mineral density who were randomly assigned to take potassium citrate, a base compound that reacts with acid to neutralize it, or potassium chloride daily for 6 to 12 months. The women taking potassium citrate showed significant increases in BMD at the spine and hip compared with the women given potassium chloride. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, November 2006.

Two-year potassium citrate supplementation does not reduce bone turnover or increase BMD in healthy postmenopausal women, which suggests that alkali provision does not explain any long-term benefit of fruit and vegetable intake on bone. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 88, No. 2, 465-474, August 2008.

Q. I am interested in the reports saying that potassium citrate helps build bones. I can find lots of food items that contain potassium, but can't find any foods that are listed as containing what appears to be the valuable form of potassium citrate. My question is: are there food sources of potassium citrate?
   A. Fruits and vegetables have good amounts of potassium. It would not be practical to focus on specific foods that only contain potassium citrate and the best choice is to take potassium citrate supplements. However, There are many factors involved in bone formation and one should not just focus on potassium citrate. See osteoporosis for a full evaluation.

Potassium bicarbonate for acidosis in old age
A daily dose of potassium bicarbonate (KHCO3) may reduce age-related muscle wasting and bone loss by neutralizing protein-induced metabolic acidosis. High-protein diets are associated with low-grade, chronic metabolic acidosis, which can increase urinary nitrogen and calcium excretion, stimulate muscle breakdown and negatively influence bone remodeling. Age-related declines in renal function may decrease the ability to compensate for protein-induced metabolic acidosis, and alkali therapy may prevent this from occurring. Older individuals were randomly assigned to potassium bicarbonate (up to 90 mmol/day, n = 9) or placebo (n = 10) for 40 days. Following a 16-day phase-in period, they were placed in crossover fashion on two successive 10-day diets containing either low (0.5 g/kg) or high (1.5 g/kg) protein, with a 5-day washout between diets. In the placebo group, the high-protein diet led to a significant increase in net acid excretion, urinary calcium and urinary nitrogen, as well as an increase in serum levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I. Supplementation with potassium bicarbonate reduced by almost half the rise in urinary nitrogen excretion that accompanied increased protein intake, an indicator of reduced muscle wasting. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2009;94:645-653.

Potassium Nitrate
This form of potassium is a transparent white crystalline compound, KNO3, used to pickle meat and in the manufacture of pyrotechnics, explosives, matches, rocket propellants, and fertilizers. Potassium nitrate is also called saltpeter.

Potassium Permanganate
This form of potassium is also known as Permanganic acid. Potassium permanganate is a useful fish disease treatment; acting against a range of protozoan parasites including Trichodina, Costia and Chilodonella, as well as monogenean flukes Gyrodactylus (skin flukes) and Dactylogyrus (gill flukes).

Potassium Hydroxide is mostly for commercial and laboratory use. A strong base, it dissolves readily in water, giving off much heat and forming a strongly alkaline, caustic solution. Potassium hydroxide is commonly called caustic potash. It closely resembles sodium hydroxide in its chemical properties and has similar uses: in making soap, in bleaching, and in manufacturing chemicals. Potassium hydroxide is prepared chiefly by electrolysis of potassium chloride.

Potassium Iodide
Potassium iodide is used to treat overactive thyroid and to protect the thyroid gland from the effects of radiation from inhaled or swallowed radioactive iodine. Potassium iodide may be used before and after administration of medicine containing radioactive iodine or after accidental exposure to radioactive iodine (for example, from nuclear power plant accidents that involved release of radioactivity to the environment). Potassium iodide is taken by mouth. It may be taken as an oral solution, syrup, or uncoated tablet.

Potassium cyanide
An extremely poisonous white compound, KCN, potassium cyanide is used in the extraction of gold and silver from ores, in electroplating, and in photography, and as a fumigant and insecticide.

Potassium sorbate is the potassium salt of sorbic acid, an organic acid that has been used extensively as a fungistatic agent for foods. Potassium sorbate is used to inhibit molds, yeasts, and fungi in many foods, such as cheese, wine, and baked goods.

Potassium perchlorate
This is used in the pyrotechnics to give a bright light for illumination. It is a powerful oxidizing agent. It is used to manufacture explosives and matches because of its ability to produce oxygen. Perchlorate is a powerful ingredient of bleaching powder used in paper and pulp processing and calico printing.

Potassium Dichromate
This is used in the manufacture of photographic engraving and lithographic chemicals, as a catalyst for the production of chromium metal, pyrotechnics and explosives.

Potassium carbonate
This is a white salt, soluble in water (insoluble in alcohol), which forms a strongly alkaline solution. It can be made as the product of potassium hydroxide's absorbant reaction with carbon dioxide. It is a deliquescent (usually damp or wet) solid, used in the production of soap and glass. Potassium carbonate is the primary component of potash and the more refined pearlash or salts of tartar. Potassium carbonate is prepared commercially by the electrolysis of potassium chloride. The resulting potassium hydroxide is then carbonated using carbon dioxide to form potassium carbonate, which is often used to produce other potassium compounds.

Potassium Chlorate is a compound composed of potassium (K), chlorine (Cl), and oxygen (O).

Q. Can a potassium supplement be taken the same day as krill oil or the nutrient coq10?
   A. I don't see why not. It should not interfere with CoQ10, fish oils or krill oil.

Q. Let me begin by saying truly what a blessing discovering your website feels like! I am almost moved to tears just on it's discovery and joy of thoroughly reading every page available to me to do so. It was search for information on Potassium that led me to your page and I quickly began to read all there was on the subject, unfortunately though I was hoping to find what effects too much Potassium would have on the body. I am 47 years of age and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. After 4 days in the hospital I could actually breath great, took my meds accurately and began working again until one day my spironolactone refill was obtained, by some one other than myself and I didn't find out until weeks later that this refill actually raised the amount of Potassium in my body and when combined with the K-Tabs I was taking was making me ill to the point of being bed ridden and in great discomfort. For a very brief time I actually increased the K-Tab dose and it was unbearable. I omitted the K-Tabs from the regiment and I actually feel a 100% better. I read since then that too much Potassium can actually be fatal. Between feeling like you have the worlds worst hangover and well, expiring, what effects if any over a period of say 1 month do you think this exposure could have on a person. You definitely have done your home work and the range of product and information your have is very impressive. Again thank you for sharing your life's work this way. I trust your reward will extend beyond that of mere financial securities to that of eternal consequences. God bless and thank you again.
   A. Potassium excess in the body is called hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia occurs when potassium intake surpasses the capacity of the kidneys to eliminate it. Too high potassium in the body can cause nausea, weakness, tingling of the hands and feet, and irregular heart beat. In the vast majority of cases no permanent harm is done and the body returns to normal functioning when the potassium levels return to normal levels.

Q. I was wondering if a person is on a potassium restricted diet, when you see the words acesulfame potassium or potassium citrate, do you have to count those against the amt. of potassium you are ingesting each day. My mom is having such a hard time figuring out what to feed my dad with his chronic kidney failure and diabetes. When reading the labels of can goods, some say the amt of potassium in them and some donít. I just read that the farther down the list of ingredients that the potassium is listed, the lesser amt it hasÖwhat if it isnít listed on the can at all? They do not have a dietician and I am not sure their ins. will pay for one and it has been very confusing trying to find things for him to eat and he is hungry. I think my mom is freaked out too much about this. His last reading was 5.1. I told her to have him drink more water and wait until next visit because he just finished the holidays and I thought it would go back down since the holiday feasts are over. Can you tell me how to count the above as for his daily amts.
   A. Usually the amount of acesulfame potassium or potassium citrate added to food products is not excessive but it is difficult to say without knowing the food product and how much potassium the manufacturer has added. The best option is to buy as few processed foods as possible and use healthy vegetables and a healthy unprocessed food diet.

Q. Is there a supplement for fluctuating potassium levels?
   A. Potassium levels in the blood are regulated by several factors including hormones and kidneys. Thus, the overall health of the body has to be addressed in order to have a more balanced potassium level. Certain medications can influence potassium levels. Since potassium levels are influenced by a number of factors, these have to be diagnosed and addressed specifically.

Doc do you have any personal views on potassium ? I personally experience mental clarity, improved limb strength without increased effort and a definite reduction in excess fat over my whole body. Iím amazed there is so little information regarding this supplement. Post exercise I feel a notable decrease in recuperation time.
    I have not taken this mineral by itself so I don't have personal experience regarding its effects.