Potassium Supplements: A Close Look on Preventive Measures

When we talk about the health issues there is nothing that we can find unrelated from our daily live routine. Let me make it clearer with the help of an example. Suppose that your doctor have prescribed you to take potassium rich food to curb down your potassium deficiency. On a different note, here is a scenario where you went for shopping. While shopping in a supermarket, we usually pick any random item that we see, right? Suppose you picked up a can of juice and checked the amount of nutritional value to check for the potassium content in the juice, ensuring that you were having the right nutritional dosage.

Fair enough! But, if you had gone through the same incident a decade earlier, you might not have found the units for potassium. Strange! Yes, that’s right, until recently, potassium levels were not included in the nutritional information provided on packaged foods. However, since 2001, this information has been included and became a legal requirement for food manufacturers around the globe.

Potassium is very beneficial to health regulating fluid balance in your body and helps in lowering the blood pressure of the body. Although, the body requires very less amount of potassium as compared to other nutrients, and therefore you can get all the potassium that your body needs through a healthy balanced diet.

Some people need more potassium in their diet and this can be achieved by eating foods rich in potassium, without using any potassium supplements. On the other hand, people who suffer from diabetes need to reduce their potassium levels which generate a question: what is the optimal dose of potassium intake? Surely, it’s a genuine question to ask to keep a regular check on mineral intake and health issues.

Potassium is a mineral that helps maintain a healthy balance of fluids circulating in your body. It also plays an important role in the work and development of nerves and muscles. Like other nutrients, potassium is also a vital ingredient that regulates the processes in the body. This key serves as an electrolyte mineral regulating fluid levels and the conductivity in cells and tissues. Potassium is essential for the appropriate working of several enzymes, which are involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates. It is also necessary for muscle contraction in the heart, digestive system and throughout the skeletal muscles.

Most healthy people do not need to worry about potassium intake because it is widely available in foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Some types of diuretics cause the body to excrete potassium, which should be replaced by foods. If you take diuretics, talk to your doctor about your need for potassium.

Quantity of potassium supplement

The amount of potassium that a person should consume each day depends on age. You should take potassium supplements only under the medical supervision. Do not give potassium supplements to children unless your doctor has told you to do so. The adequate daily intake for adults and adolescents over 14 years is 4,700 mg. A woman breastfeeding need more potassium and should acquire 5,000 mg a day. Children 1-3 years old need 3,000 mg. In children aged 4-8 years, this value increases to 3,800 mg and those of 9-13 years 4,500 mg daily.

Rich potassium sources

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides just enough potassium for most healthy individuals. One medium banana provides 422 mg of potassium and a baked potato with skin contains 926 mg. Orange juice, avocados, melons, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, halibut, salmon, cod, chicken and meats are rich in potassium.

Potassium deficiency signals

Low levels of potassium in the blood indicate a condition called hypokalemia. The shortage of potassium, hypokalemia defined in medical language, becomes manifest when the concentration of the mineral in the blood is lower than 3.5 mEq/l. The normal potassium level in the blood is 3.6 to 4.8 milli equivalents per liter (mEqL). If potassium is less than 2.5 mEqL, serious health problems can occur. Signs of a potassium deficiency include fatigue, weakness, muscle pain, cramps, constipation, bloating, abdominal pain and irregular heartbeat.

Clinical symptoms linked to potassium deficiency may include:

Muscle cramps, fatigue, constipation and poor appetite; sometimes may appear signs of neuromuscular hyper-excitability, which occur with sudden flashes and spontaneous fasciculation.

In severe cases, potassium deficiency can cause hypoventilation up to respiratory paralysis, bradycardia with abnormal electrocardiographic and cardiac arrhythmias, flaccid paralysis and tendon hyporeflexia, paralytic ileus (intestinal obstruction for the termination of the peristaltic movements) and polyuria.

Potassium Supplements

Many multivitamins counter supplements contain less than 99 mg of potassium. Individual potassium supplements are available for oral or intravenous administration. You just take supplements under medical supervision. They can interact with a variety of common drugs and can be dangerous in many cases where people are infected with certain underlying diseases. A doctor will carefully monitor potassium levels of the patient and suggest appropriate dosage; otherwise he/she might get caught to hyperkalemia, in which the potassium levels in the body are extremely high.