Munson Health
 
Potassium

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Supplement Forms/Alternate Names :

  • Potassium Chloride
  • Potassium Bicarbonate
  • Chelated Potassium (Potassium Aspartate, Potassium Citrate)
 

Uses

 

Principal Proposed Uses

Potassium is a mineral found in many foods and supplements. But you will never see pure potassium in a healthfood store or pharmacy—it is a highly reactive metal that bursts into flames when exposed to water! The potassium you eat, or take as a supplement, is composed of potassium atoms bound to other nonmetallic substances—less exciting, perhaps, but chemically stable.
Potassium is one of the major electrolytes in your body, along with sodium and chloride. Potassium and sodium work together like a molecular seesaw: when the level of one goes up, the other goes down. All together, these three dissolved minerals play an intimate chemical role in every function of your body.
The most common use of potassium supplements is to make up for potassium depletion caused by diuretic drugs. These medications are often used to help regulate blood pressure, but by depleting the body of potassium, they may inadvertently make blood pressure harder to control.
 

Therapeutic Dosages

The following table shows the approximate dosage equivalents for the different forms of potassium: 20,21
Approximate Equivalents of 40 mEq of Potassium
3.9 g of potassium acetate
4.0 g of potassium bicarbonate
3.0 g of potassium chloride
4.3 g of potassium citrate
9.4 g of potassium gluconate
 

What Is the Scientific Evidence for Potassium?

High Blood Pressure
According to a review of 33 double-blind studies, potassium supplements can produce a slight but definite drop in blood pressure. 9,10 However, two large studies found no benefit. 11,12 The explanation is probably that potassium is only slightly helpful. When a treatment has only a small effect, it is not unusual for some studies to show no effect while others find a modest benefit. It is possible that potassium may only help people who are at least a bit deficient in this mineral.
Evidence suggests that potassium supplements may be most effective for people who eat too much salt. 13
 

Interactions You Should Know About

If you are taking:
 

References

1
Overlack A, Maus B, Ruppert M, et al. Potassium citrate versus potassium chloride in essential hypertension. Effects on hemodynamic, hormonal and metabolic parameters [in German; English abstract]. Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 1995;120:631-635.

2
Saito N, Kuchiba A. The changes of magnesium under high salt diets and by administration of antihypertensive diuretics. Magnes Bull. 1987;9:53.

3
Dorup I, Skajaa K, Thybo NK. Oral magnesium supplementation restores the concentrations of magnesium, potassium and sodium-potassium pumps in skeletal muscle of patients receiving diuretic treatment. J Intern Med. 1993;233:117-123.

4
Whang R, Whang DD, Ryan MP. Refractory potassium repletion: a consequence of magnesium deficiency (Review Article). Arch Intern Med. 1992;152:40-45.

5
Drug Evaluation Annual. Vol 3. Milwaukee, WI: American Medical Association; 1993.

6
Whelton PK, He J, Cutler JA, et al. Effects of oral potassium on blood pressure. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. JAMA. 1997;277:1624-1632.

7
Whelton PK, Buring J, Borhani NO, et al. The effect of potassium supplementation in persons with a high-normal blood pressure. Results from phase I of the Trials of Hypertension Prevention (TOHP). Trials of Hypertension Prevention (TOPH) Collaborative Research Group. Ann Epidemiol. 1995;5:85-95.

8
Gu D, He J, Wu X, et al. Effect of potassium supplementation on blood pressure in Chinese: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Hypertens. 2001;19:1325-1331.

9
Whelton PK, He J, Cutler JA, et al. Effects of oral potassium on blood pressure. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. JAMA. 1997;277:1624-1632.

10
Gu D, He J, Wu X, et al. Effect of potassium supplementation on blood pressure in Chinese: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Hypertens. 2001;19:1325-1331.

11
Whelton PK, Buring J, Borhani NO, et al. The effect of potassium supplementation in persons with a high-normal blood pressure. Results from phase I of the Trials of Hypertension Prevention (TOHP). Trials of Hypertension Prevention (TOPH) Collaborative Research Group. Ann Epidemiol. 1995;5:85-95.

12
Davis BR, Oberman A, Blaufox MD, et al. Lack of effectiveness of a low-sodium/high-potassium diet in reducing antihypertensive medication requirements in overweight persons with mild hypertension. TAIM Research Group. Trial of Antihypertensive Interventions and Management. Am J Hypertens. 1994;7:926-932.

13
Whelton PK, Buring J, Borhani NO, et al. The effect of potassium supplementation in persons with a high-normal blood pressure. Results from phase I of the Trials of Hypertension Prevention (TOHP). Trials of Hypertension Prevention (TOPH) Collaborative Research Group. Ann Epidemiol. 1995;5:85-95.

14
Stoltz ML, Andrews CE Jr. Severe hyperkalemia during very-low-calorie diets and angiotensin converting enzyme use. JAMA. 1990;264:2737-2738.

15
Good CB, McDermott L, McCloskey B. Diet and serum potassium in patients on ACE inhibitors. JAMA. 1995;274:538.

16
Warren SE, O'Conner DT. Hyperkalemia resulting from captopril administration. JAMA. 1980;244:2551-2552.

17
Grossman A, Eckland D, Price P, et al. Captopril: reversible renal failure with severe hyperkalaemia. Lancet. 1980;1:712.

18
Burnakis TG, Mioduch HJ. Combined therapy with captopril and potassium supplementation: a potential for hyperkalemia. Arch Intern Med. 1984;144:2371-2372.

19
Alappan R, Perazella MA, Buller GK. Hyperkalemia in hospitalized patients treated with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. Ann Intern Med. 1996;124:316-320.

20
Potassium supplements. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ . Updated April 11, 2011. Accessed December 7, 2011.

21
AHFS Drug Information 2004. McEvoy, GK, ed. Potassium Supplements. Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists; 2004:2517-2523.

 

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