Potassium: benefits, side effects, dosage and preparation.


Potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte that plays an important role in many bodily functions, including regulation of heart rate and blood pressure, proper nerve conduction, protein synthesis, glycogen synthesis (a storage form of glucose) and muscle contraction. It is one of the main minerals responsible for maintaining osmotic pressure in the intra and extracellular environment.

Potassium is found naturally in most fruits, vegetables, legumes, and seeds. In healthy people with normal kidney function, abnormally low or high potassium levels in the blood are rare.

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What is potassium used for?

Some research suggests that higher potassium intake may reduce the risk of certain diseases, such as strokes, osteoporosis, and kidney stones. Additionally, the researchers found an inverse relationship between potassium intake and blood pressure in people with hypertension (high blood pressure) and low potassium levels. It seems that people who eat the most variety of fruits and vegetables benefit the most from this.

Reduce the stroke

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of severe disability in adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control. You can reduce your chances or prevent your risk of stroke by taking several steps.

The results of controlled clinical studies show that increased potassium intake is associated with a reduced risk of stroke.

Increased bone mineral density.

The modern Western diet tends to have relatively few sources of alkali (fruits and vegetables) and many sources of acid (fish, meats, and cheeses). When the pH balance is out of balance, the body can take alkaline calcium salts from the bones to neutralize the pH . Some scientists believe that increased intake of potassium-rich fruits and vegetables or potassium supplements reduces the net acid content of the diet and may retain calcium in the bones.

Research on this topic is mixed. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition measured the effects of potassium citrate supplementation and increased fruit and vegetable intake in 276 postmenopausal women . It was found that after two years of taking potassium citrate supplements, bone metabolism did not decrease and bone mineral density did not increase.

In contrast, another study published in the journal Nutrients found that potassium citrate supplementation enhanced the beneficial effects of calcium and vitamin D in osteopenic women who were potassium deficient. This study suggests that potassium's ability to increase bone mineral density may also be influenced by intake of calcium and vitamin D, which are important nutrients for bone health. More research is needed to determine its effects.

Kidney stones

Abnormally high levels of calcium in the urine (hypercalciuria) increase the risk of kidney stones. Diets high in protein and low in potassium can increase stone formation. Increasing your potassium intake, either from more fruits and vegetables or from more supplements, can lower calcium in your urine and therefore lower your risk of kidney stones. In a study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Nephrology Society, researchers examined the relationship between protein intake and potassium intake in kidney stones.

They found that higher levels of potassium in the diet were associated with a statistically significant and significant reduction in the risk of kidney stones in all cohorts. They also found that the type of protein consumed can also influence kidney stone risk. They suggest that "diets rich in fruits and vegetables, as well as diets with a relative abundance of fruits and vegetables compared to animal protein, may be effective measures to prevent kidney stones."

Treatment of hypertension

High blood pressure can make the heart work too hard and increase the risk of heart disease, as well as other diseases such as stroke, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness. In an older but highly memorable clinical study, Dietary Approaches to Reduce Hypertension (DASH), published in the New England Journal of Medicine , researchers determined that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products low in fat and low in saturated fat and totals can significantly lower blood pressure.

Compared to a control diet (offering 3.5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day and 1,700 milligrams of potassium per day), a diet of 8.5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day and 4,100 mg of potassium per day reduced blood pressure. Recent studies have also shown that increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables (foods rich in potassium) can lower blood pressure.

Prevention of muscle cramps.

Intense exercise requires replenishing electrolytes, both potassium and sodium, because they are lost through sweat. However, to prevent muscle cramps, adequate amounts of potassium and sodium are more important before, during, and after exercise.

Possible side effects.

If you increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, you increase your intake of potassium and fiber. As your fiber increases, it is important to increase it slowly and gradually to avoid gas and bloating. Also, remember to drink plenty of fluids. Neglecting carbohydrates can lead to constipation and, in severe cases, intestinal obstruction.

The most common side effects of potassium supplements include:

Introduction to hyperkalemia

To prevent side effects, be sure to take the supplements as directed, preferably with food or liquid, to reduce gastrointestinal effects.

If you are taking potassium supplements, you will need to monitor your blood, as high levels of potassium in the blood can be very dangerous.

Dosage and preparation

In March 2019, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) determined that there was insufficient evidence to determine the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for potassium for Americans, and therefore determined that adequate intake or AI (intake at this level) estimated to ensure nutritional adequacy) is 3400 mg for men 19 years of age and older and 2300 mg for women 19 years of age and older.

AI options will depend on gender, age, and pregnancy and breastfeeding. This is a change from previous guidelines that required adults to consume 4,700 mg of potassium every day. This is most likely because most healthy Americans consume about 2,500 milligrams of potassium per day. It should be noted that the new AIs do not apply to people with impaired potassium excretion due to diseases (such as kidney disease) or taking medications that alter potassium excretion.

Storage and preparation

Store fresh fruits and vegetables following the guidelines for maximum freshness. This will differ depending on the fruit or vegetable. Some should be kept in the refrigerator, while others, like tomatoes, should be left at room temperature.

Avoid using fruits and vegetables over high heat or boiling to preserve vitamin content. You can eat some raw fruits and vegetables if you like; otherwise, sauté them over medium heat with a little fat, like olive oil, or try steaming them.

If you are taking potassium supplements, store them in a cool, dry place, away from heat and moisture. Prepare and take supplements as directed by your healthcare provider / healthcare team.


People with kidney failure and those taking potassium-sparing medications or ACE inhibitors , which are commonly used to treat high blood pressure, may need to monitor their potassium intake and probably should not take potassium supplements. If, for any reason, your healthcare provider has recommended it to you, your blood will be closely monitored to prevent hyperkalemia (high levels of potassium in your blood).

If you are taking certain medications, you should avoid taking potassium supplements. These types of drugs include spironolactone, triamterene, amiloride, captopril, enalapril, fosinopril, indomethacin, ibuprofen, ketorolac, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, pentamidine, heparin, digitalis, beta blockers, alpha blockers, and losartan .

If you have any questions about the interaction of supplements with existing medications or supplements, always check with your doctor.

What to look for

One of the best ways to increase the potassium intake in your diet is to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. By doing so, you will likely cut back on processed foods, which will lower your sodium intake. A diet low in sodium and high in potassium is a recipe for a healthy heart.

If you have trouble adding fresh foods to your diet due to the high cost of spoilage, consider adding frozen fruits and vegetables. These fruits and vegetables are frozen to their maximum freshness, which improves their nutritional profile by making vitamins and minerals more available.

How to meet your needs

The best way to meet your potassium needs is by eating a variety of whole foods, including fruits such as avocados, oranges, bananas, vegetables (such as sweet potatoes, zucchini, and dried beans), low-fat milk, and certain sources of protein. . like salmon and chicken. It is estimated that the body absorbs 85 to 90 percent of potassium from the diet.

The forms of potassium in fruits and vegetables include phosphate, sulfate, potassium citrate, and others, but not potassium chloride, which is found in some potassium salt supplements.

In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that potassium should become a mandatory part of a Nutrition Facts label. "In terms of potassium, we have concluded that potassium is a public health nutrient for the general US population. And a statement is needed to help consumers maintain a healthy diet," says the FDA.

Potassium supplements

The addition of potassium is confusing and controversial. While getting potassium from food is always beneficial, some people still lack enough potassium. If you are not sure whether you need to take potassium supplements, seek professional advice; your healthcare professional or dietitian can help you.

Potassium supplements are available in liquid, tablet, capsule, and gluconate, aspartate, citrate, or potassium chloride form. The amount you must accept and the type must be determined by a healthcare professional.

Most over-the-counter potassium supplements, as well as multivitamin and mineral supplements, do not contain more than 99 mg of potassium per serving (which is a very small percentage of the recommended dose). In the past, the FDA ruled that some oral medications that contain potassium chloride and more than 99 mg of potassium are unsafe because they are associated with injury to the small intestine.

They needed to label some potassium salts that exceeded 99 mg with a warning about small intestine injuries. However, they did not make a decision on whether dietary supplements containing more than 99 mg should have a warning label. The FDA says, "We have no limits on the efficacy of the recommended use of dietary supplements containing potassium salts." Many salt substitutes contain potassium chloride as a substitute for some or all of the sodium chloride in the salt.

The potassium content of these foods varies widely, so labels should be read carefully, especially for people at increased risk for hyperkalemia. Note that the percentage of absorption of the supplements will depend on the type of potassium derivative. For more information on potassium supplements, the National Institutes of Health has provided additional information in their dietary supplement label database .

If your potassium level is low due to a medical condition, your doctor will most likely prescribe potassium. If this happens, he will closely monitor your blood level to make sure it does not exceed the prescribed limit.

Potassium rich foods

According to the USDA Nutrition Database, the following are foods high in potassium. Below is a list of these foods, along with the amount of potassium in each.

  • Pumpkin acorn (1 cup, cooked without salt): 896 milligrams
  • Apple (1 medium, peeled): 195 milligrams
  • Artichokes (1 cup of cooked hearts): 480 milligrams
  • Avocado (1/4 whole): 172 milligrams
  • Banana (1 medium): 430 milligrams
  • Beets (1 cup raw): 442 milligrams
  • Broccoli (1 cup, chopped and cooked): 457 milligrams
  • Young Brussels sprouts (13): 315 milligrams
  • Beans (1/2 cup dry; amount varies by variety): 1,813 milligrams
  • Melon (1 cup cube): 427 milligrams
  • Carrots (1 cup chopped): 410 milligrams
  • Cherries (1 cup pitted): 342 milligrams
  • Milk (1 cup low-fat): 350-380 milligrams
  • Mushrooms (1 whole cup): 305 milligrams
  • Orange (1 small): 238 milligrams
  • Peas (1 cup raw): 354 milligrams
  • Pepper (1 cup minced): 314 milligrams
  • Parsley (1 cup minced): 332 milligrams
  • Potatoes (1 medium, baked with skin): 930 milligrams
  • Quinoa (1 cup cooked): 318 milligrams
  • Salmon (6 ounces): 730 milligrams
  • Spinach (1 cup cooked): 839 milligrams
  • Sweet potatoes (1 cup baked): 664 milligrams
  • Tomatoes (1 cup chopped): 430 milligrams
  • Yogurt (1 cup low-fat): 563 milligrams
  • Watermelon (1 cup, diced): 170 milligrams

Processed foods

Some processed and packaged foods also contain added potassium salts or natural potassium (such as dry beans and whole grains). If you need to monitor your potassium intake, remember the labels. Most ingredient labels list "potassium chloride" as an additive. It is commonly found in foods such as cereals, snacks, frozen foods, processed meats, soups, sauces, sandwiches, and bars.

You can also find added potassium in foods like Emergen C. Foods with at least 350 milligrams per serving are FDA approved for blood pressure and stroke. "

General business

When should I add potassium?

It is not recommended for your general health to have a potassium deficiency. However, most low potassium diets do not tend to lower blood potassium levels. In this case, people are advised to increase their intake of potassium-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. People who are at higher risk of developing hypokalemia (low potassium levels in the blood) may need a potassium supplement.

People at higher risk of developing this condition include people with inflammatory bowel disease, those who take potassium diuretics, drink too much alcohol, severe vomiting or diarrhea, overuse or abuse of laxatives, anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, or a congestive heart. rejection. Check with your healthcare professional before taking any supplements. Consuming too much potassium can be dangerous to your health.

Can drinking too much licorice cause hypokalemia?

There is evidence that the routine consumption of large amounts of black licorice has caused a decrease in the level of potassium in the blood. The actual dose has not been determined.

Does cooking change the potassium content?

Prolonged boiling of vegetables can reduce the potassium content by washing them with water. If you are trying to preserve vitamins and minerals, one of the best cooking methods is to steam or lightly sauté over medium heat with a little fat.

Get the word of drug information

Potassium is a rich mineral that is important for health and well-being. Established studies have shown the benefits of higher potassium intake in reducing blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and kidney stones. The best way to meet your potassium needs is to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and some protein sources such as salmon. Anyone taking potassium supplements should be supervised and directed by a physician. Careful attention to processed food labels is required, especially for people with kidney disease who are at increased risk of developing hyperkalemia.

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