Potassium Supplements - its benefits and side effects, deficiency, overdose...
ZHION.COM   July 11, 2011 email comment to zhion@zhion.com
INTRODUCTION

Potassium, a mineral, is important to the proper functions of kidney, heart and muscles. Potassium can be
found in fruits, vegetables and legumes. Usually, a healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruits provides the
amount of potassium needed. In a study of 12,000 Americans, men consumed an average of 4,323 mg of
sodium daily, while women took in 2,918 mg. The group with the highest sodium-to- potassium ratio had a
mortality risk about 50% higher than the group with the lowest. [CNN.COM July 11, 2011]

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH POTASSIUM?

Inadequate amounts of magnesium, excessive intake of sodium, diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating,
malnutrition, and use of diuretics will lead to hypokalemia, i.e. potassium deficiency. Coffee, licorice, alcohol
and caffeine-containing herbs (such as cola nut, guarana and tea) can lead to loss of potassium, for example
through urination. Overdose of potassium leads to a condition called hyperkalemia. The elderly are at high risk
for developing hyperkalemia due to decreased kidney function that often occurs at aging. Intake of certain
diuretics such as hydrochlorothiazide, furosemide and bumetanide, corticosteroids, amphotericin B, antacids,
insulin, laxatives and theophylline may lower your potassium level. While, use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
durgs (such as ibuprofen, piroxicam an dsulindac), ACE inhibitors ( such as captopril, enalapril, and lisinopril),
heparin, beta-blockers (such as metoprolol and propranolol), cyclosporine and trimethoprim is likely to increase
your potassium level the body. Taking potassium or other supplements should only be done under the
guidance of a medical doctor. [7]

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF TAKING POTASSIUM SUPPLEMENTS

In general, potassium supplements such as potassium citrate, gluconate, acetate, are used for hypokalemia.
However, potassium supplements may benefit people suffered from high blood pressure. Braschi A and
Naismith DJ. from King's College London supplied potassium chloride or citrate to young healthy subjects for 6
weeks, they noticed a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressures of the subjects by about 4-6 mm
Hg. The researchers noticed a larger effect in those with higher systolic blood pressure. [1] Intake of potassium
supplements may have a preventive measurement on osteoporosis, asthma, ulcerative colitis or even possibly
glomerular lesion, ischemic damage, and stroke-associated death. [4,7]

While, Fang Y and coworkers from Xi'an Jiaotong University, China, recruited 60 healthy subjects aged 20-60
in a study to determine if salt modulates asymmetrical dimethylarginine (ADMA). The researchers allowed the
subjects to take low-salt diets for 7 days (3 g/day, NaCl), then high-salt diets for 7 days (18 g/day), and then
high-salt diets with potassium supplementation for another 7 days (4.5 g/day, KCl). After the subjects took the
high-salt diets, they found the plasma ADMA and blood pressure shot up while plasma NOx levels reduced
considerably. When the researchers supplemented the subjects with dietary potassium, ADMA, NOx and the
mean blood pressure returned back to the normal levels. [2] They also reported that supplementation of
potassium could improve endothelial function in healthy and moderate hypertensive subjects in a separate
report. [3]

Jin L and co-workers at Medical University of South Carolina found that expression of recombinant kallikrein by
somatic gene delivery reduced high blood pressure, cardiac hypertrophy, and renal injury in hypertensive
animal models. Later on, they further related the blood pressure-lowering and diuretic effects of high potassium
intake to the upregulation of the tissue kallikrein-kinin system. [4]

However, researchers from Norway found that moderate reduction in sodium intake, with or without addition of
potassium, is not sufficient to induce significant long-term intraarterial or 24-h ambulatory blood pressure
changes in essential hypertension. [5]

THE SIDE EFFECTS OF POTASSIUM SUPPLEMENTS

People with hyperkalemia should not use potassium. Common side effects of excessive intake of potassium
supplements include diarrhea and nausea. Other side effects are muscle weakness, slowed heart rate, and
abnormal heart rhythm. [7] High potassium levels can cause irregular and dangerous heartbeats, and
sometimes death. [6]

Reference:

[1] Braschi A, Naismith DJ. The effect of a dietary supplement of potassium chloride or potassium citrate on
blood pressure in predominantly normotensive volunteers. Br J Nutr. 2008 Jun;99(6):1284-92. Epub 2007 Dec
6. [2] Fang Y, Mu JJ, He LC, Wang SC, Liu ZQ Salt loading on plasma asymmetrical dimethylarginine and the
protective role of potassium supplement in normotensive salt-sensitive Asians. Hypertension. 2006
Oct;48(4):724-9. Epub 2006 Sep 11. [3] Shi DC et al, Endothelial function evaluation in salt-sensitive
normaltensive and mild hypertensive subjects and effects of potassium supplement Zhonghua Xin Xue Guan
Bing Za Zhi. 2006 Jan;34(1):38-41. [4] Jin L, Chao L, Chao J. Potassium supplement upregulates the
expression of renal kallikrein and bradykinin B2 receptor in SHR. Am J Physiol. 1999 Mar;276(3 Pt 2):F476-84.
[5] Omvik P, Myking OL. Unchanged central hemodynamics after six months of moderate sodium restriction with
or without potassium supplement in essential hypertension. Blood Press. 1995 Jan;4(1):32-41. [6] FDA website
http://www.fda.gov/cder/consumerinfo/druginfo/inspra.HTM University of Maryland Center Website, 07/24/08 [7]
reference only, it is not a medical advice. All rights reserved. Do not copy this article to
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