potassium Overview Information
Potassium is a mineral that plays many critical roles in the body. Food sources of potassium include fruits (especially dried fruits), cereals, beans, milk, and vegetables.
Potassium is used for treating and preventing low potassium levels. It is also used to treat high blood pressure and prevent stroke.
Some people use it to treat high levels of calcium, a type of dizziness called Menière's disease, thallium poisoning, insulin resistance, symptoms of menopause, and infantcolic. It is also used for allergies, headaches, acne, alcoholism, Alzheimer's disease, confusion, arthritis, blurred vision, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, an intestinal disorder called colitis, constipation, dermatitis, bloating, fever, gout, insomnia, irritability, mononucleosis, muscle weakness, muscular dystrophy, stress, and with medications as treatment for myasthenia gravis.
Healthcare providers give potassium intravenously (by IV) for treating and preventing low potassium levels, irregular heartbeats, and heart attack.
How does it work?
Potassium plays a role in many body functions including transmission of nerve signals, muscle contractions, fluid balance, and various chemical reactions.
- Low levels of potassium in the blood (hypokalemia). Taking potassium by mouth or intravenously (by IV) prevents and treats low levels of potassium in the blood.
Possibly Effective for:
- High calcium in the urine (hypercalciuria). Taking potassium by mouth seems to decrease calcium levels in the urine.
- High blood pressure. Potassium seems to lower systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by about 2-4 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by about 0.5-3.5 mm Hg. Potassium seems to be most effective for lowering blood pressure in African Americans and people with low potassium levels or high daily sodium intake. In addition, potassium from food sources, but not from supplements, may help to prevent high blood pressure.
- Stroke. Potassium from dietary sources seems to decrease the risk of stroke. There is some evidence that foods providing at least 350 mg of potassium per serving and that are low in sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol might help reduce the risk stroke. However, there is no proof that taking potassium supplements can decrease the risk of stroke.
- Dental pain. Some research suggests that using a toothpaste that contains potassium nitrite reduces tooth sensitivity. However, these toothpastes might still be less effective than other standard toothpastes.
- Insulin resistance.
- Heart attack.
- Menopausal symptoms.
- Fatigue and mood swings in early menopause.
- Infant colic.
- Alzheimer's disease.
- Blurred vision.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Skin problems.
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia).
- Menière's disease.
- Muscle weakness.
- Muscular dystrophy.
- Myasthenia gravis.
- Other conditions.
potassium Side Effects & Safety
Potassium is LIKELY SAFE for most people when given intravenously (by IV) and appropriately or when taken by mouth in amounts of up to 90 mEq of total potassium from the diet and supplements combined. Potassium can cause stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, intestinal gas, and other side effects.
Too much potassium is UNSAFE and can cause feelings of burning or tingling, generalized weakness, paralysis, listlessness, dizziness, mental confusion, low blood pressure, irregular heart rhythm, and death.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy or breast-feeding: Potassium is LIKELY SAFE when obtained from the diet in amounts of 40-80 mEq per day. Taking too much potassium is UNSAFE during pregnancy and breast feeding.
Disorders of the digestive tract that might alter the speed food and supplements pass through the body (GI motility conditions): If you have one of these disorders, do not take potassium supplements. Potassium could build up to dangerous levels in your body.
Allergy to aspirin or tartrazine products: Avoid potassium supplements that contain tartrazine.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Medications for high blood pressure (ACE inhibitors) interacts with POTASSIUM
Some medications for high blood pressure can increase potassium levels in the blood. Taking potassium along with some medications for high blood pressure might cause too much potassium in the blood.
Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), ramipril (Altace), and others.
- Medications for high blood pressure (Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)) interacts with POTASSIUM
Some medications for high blood pressure can increase potassium levels in the blood. Taking potassium along with some medications for high blood pressure might cause too much potassium to be in the blood.
Some medications for high blood pressure include losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), irbesartan (Avapro), candesartan (Atacand), telmisartan (Micardis), eprosartan (Teveten), and others.
- Water pills (Potassium-sparing diuretics) interacts with POTASSIUM
Some "water pills" can increase potassium levels in the body. Taking some "water pills" along with potassium might cause too much potassium to be in the body.
Some "water pills" that increase potassium in the body include amiloride (Midamor), spironolactone (Aldactone), and triamterene (Dyrenium).
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
Potassium supplementation must be tailored for each person and based on the person's serum potassium level, which should be maintained between 3.5-5 mEq/L.
The normal adult daily requirement and usual dietary intake is 40-80 mEq daily.
- For preventing low levels of potassium: 20 mEq is typically taken daily.
- For treating low levels of potassium: the common dose of potassium is 40-100 mEq or more daily, in two to four divided amounts.
- For treating high levels of calcium: 1 mEq/kg is taken daily or four tablets of Urophos-K are taken twice a day.
- For high blood pressure: the typical dose is 48-90 mEq daily.
- For preventing stroke: dietary intake of approximately 75 mEq (about 3.5 grams of elemental potassium) daily may reduce risk.