What is it?
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 infant colic. 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.
- Preventing and treating low levels of potassium in the blood (hypokalemia).
- 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).
- Be cautious with this combination
- Medication Interactions 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.
- Prevents 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.
- Treats high levels of calcium: 1 mEq/kg is taken daily or four tablets of Urophos-K are taken twice a day.
- Used for high blood pressure: the typical dose is 48-90 mEq daily.
- Helps to prevent 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.”
References: Beloosesky Y, Grinblat J, Weiss A, et al. Electrolyte disorders following oral sodium phosphate administration for bowel cleansing in elderly patients. Arch Int Med 2003;163:803-8. Bjornson DC, Stephenson SR. Cisplatin-induced massive renal tubular failure with wastage of serum electrolytes. Clin Pharm 1983;2;80-3.