Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Find a Vitamin or Supplement

POTASSIUM

Other Names:

Acétate de Potassium, Atomic number 19, Bicarbonate de Potassium, Chlorure de Potassium, Citrate de Potassium, Gluconate de Potassium, Glycérophosphate de Potassium, K, Numéro Atomique 19, Orotate de Potassium, Phosphate de Potassium, Potasio, P...
See All Names

potassium Overview
potassium Uses
potassium Side Effects
potassium Interactions
potassium Dosing
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.

potassium Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Effective for:

  • Preventing and treating low levels of potassium in the blood (hypokalemia).

Possibly Effective for:

  • 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.
  • Preventing 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.
  • High calcium in the urine (hypercalciuria).

Insufficient Evidence for:

  • Insulin resistance.
  • Heart attack.
  • Menopausal symptoms.
  • Fatigue and mood swings in early menopause.
  • Infant colic.
  • Allergies.
  • Headaches.
  • Acne.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Alzheimer's disease.
  • Arthritis.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Cancer.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Colitis.
  • Confusion.
  • Constipation.
  • Skin problems.
  • Bloating.
  • Fever.
  • Gout.
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia).
  • Irritability.
  • Menière's disease.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Muscular dystrophy.
  • Stress.
  • Myasthenia gravis.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate potassium for these uses.


potassium Side Effects & Safety

Potassium is LIKELY SAFE for most people 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.

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.

potassium Interactions What is this?

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).


potassium Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

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.
Foods that contain at least 350 mg potassium can be labeled “Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.”

See 43 Reviews for this Treatment - OR -

Review this Treatment

Learn about User Reviews and read IMPORTANT information about user generated content

Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

Search for a Vitamin or Supplement

Ex. Ginseng, Vitamin C, Depression

Today on WebMD

Woman taking a vitamin or supplement
Article
Man taking a vitamin or supplement
Article
 
clams
Quiz
Woman in sun
Slideshow
 
Flaxseed added fiber
Video
!!69X75_Vitamins_Supplements.jpg
Evaluator
 
Woman sleeping
Article
Woman staring into space with coffee
Article
 
Related Newsletters

Stay Informed with the latest must-read information delivered right to your inbox.

IMPORTANT: About This Section and Other User-Generated Content on WebMD

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, reviews, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatment or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.