Potassium supplements can be given orally or non-orally to patients with a low level of potassium in their body occurring from poor diet, illness or treatment.
Potassium is required in the body to maintain a good level of health. A balanced diet will usually supply enough potassium for an individual to maintain health, but there are cases in which a potassium supplement will need to be given to a patient. A poor diet, illness or treatment with certain types of medication can all lead to a lowering of potassium in the body that will then need to be treated.
A low level of potassium in the body can cause a number of unwanted symptoms to occur. These include muscle weakness, mood changes, nausea, vomiting and irregularity of heartbeat. Potassium is often claimed to be useful for lowering blood pressure but there is no clear evidence of this.
Potassium supplements may be injected into the patient in certain cases. This should only be done under the direct supervision of a doctor. Certain forms of potassium supplement are also available to purchase without a prescription, however.
Too great a level of potassium in the body can also cause problems for the patient. You should not take potassium supplements unless you have been directed to by your doctor.
To maintain good health you should ensure that you are eating a balanced and varied diet. A healthcare professional may set a diet program for you in addition to or instead of a potassium supplement and you should follow any such diet plan closely and carefully. The following foods are potassium-rich and are good sources of natural potassium:
- Cooked acorn squash
- Baked potato skin
- Cooked spinach
- Cooked lentils
- Cooked kidney beans
- Cooked split peas
- Cooked white navy beans
- Cooked butternut squash
- Plain yogurt
- Frozen orange juice
- Cooked Brussels sprouts
- Cooked zucchini
- Cooked collards
- Cooked broccoli
A shortage of potassium in the body is rare so there is no recommended daily allowance of the substance. However, it is considered that 1600 to 2000mg taken daily is adequate for adults. When taking supplements it is important to remember the following:
- The amount of potassium taken daily will include the potassium from all of the foods that you eat. You should not be taking the daily amount as a supplement as this will lead to levels of potassium that are too great in the body.
- Many foods now also have added potassium so you should be sure to read the labels of the foods you eat.
- You should not exceed the total daily amounts of potassium. An excessive level of potassium in the body can cause similar health problems as a shortage of potassium.
Potassium supplements are available in a wide range of forms and brands. Potassium can be obtained as any of the following brands:
- Urocit-K 10
- KCare ET
- K-Lyte Cl
The potassium supplements can be administered as effervescent tablets, solutions, capsules, extended-release tablets, extended release powder for suspension, powder for suspension, tablets, liquids, elixir, granules, extended-release capsules and powder for solutions.
Potassium supplements should only be taken when ordered by a doctor.
Type Of Medicine
Potassium supplements can have unwanted side effects. Having too much potassium in the body is very dangerous and can put the patient at severe risk. The following side effects may not occur, but if they do then you will need to seek urgent medical attention from your doctor.
Occurring less commonly:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Difficulty with breathing
- Heaviness of the legs
- Irregular heartbeat
- Numbness or tingling in extremities including hands, feet and lips
- Shortness of breath
- Slowed heartbeat
- Unexplained anxiousness
- Unusual tiredness
- Unusual weakness
- Weakness of the legs
Occurring only rarely:
- Continued cramping or soreness of the stomach or abdomen
- Pain in the chest or throat especially when swallowing
- Stools containing signs of blood
Other side effects from use may also occur that are not normally a cause for concern. The following side effects would not normally necessitate that you seek medical attention. If these side effects are ongoing or become bothersome, however, then you can consult your healthcare professional for advice.
- Gas build up
- Stomach discomfort
- Stomach pains
Extended-release tablets or capsules may also appear in your stools after use. This is common and is nothing to be concerned about.
Other side effects from the use of a potassium supplement may also occur. Patients should report any other side effects to a medical professional. If you are concerned about your immediate health, however, then you should always contact the emergency services.
This treatment should only ever be taken if ordered by a doctor. Having too great an amount of potassium in your body is a bad as having too low an amount and should be avoided. Do not take this treatment in greater doses than ordered, do not take it more frequently than ordered and do not take it for a longer period of time than ordered.
When using the liquid dose of potassium supplement follow these steps:
- The medication must be diluted in at least a half-full glass of liquid. Chilled water or cold juice will help to reduce the irritation of the stomach and will help to alleviate the laxative effect of the treatment.
- When patients are also following a sodium-restrictive diet as ordered by your doctor then you may need to avoid tomato juice, which is high in salt content. Consult with your medical professional before using tomato juice to dilute your treatment.
When taking soluble forms of the medication as powder, tablets or granules:
- Ensure that the potassium supplement is completely dissolved in a minimum of a half-full glass of liquid. It is best to use chilled water or cold juices, which will help to relieve the laxative effects of the treatment and reduce stomach irritation.
- Wait until the treatment has stopped fizzing before drinking it.
- Do not use tomato juice if your doctor has also placed you on a sodium-restricted diet as this juice is high in salt content.
When taking extended-release tablets for treatment:
- Do not crush, break or damage the tablets before use.
- Take the tablets whole and intact with a full glass of water or juice. You should not suck nor chew on these tablets.
- If you are having difficulty swallowing the tablets then you should inform your doctor. If the tablet stick and do not dissolve properly then ulceration may occur. Alternative forms of treatment may be required.
- Some extended-release tablets may be crushed and added to food, but you should check this with your doctor first.
When taking extended-release tablets of potassium supplement:
- Take the capsule whole and intact with a full glass of water.
- Do not suck or chew the capsule as you take it.
- Do not crush, dissolve or in any way damage the tablet before taking it.
- Some capsules may be broken and added to food for treatment but you should check this with your doctor first.
- If you are having trouble swallowing the treatment then you should contact your doctor and other means of administration may be determined.
You should take all oral forms of potassium supplement immediately after eating as this will help to lessen any stomach upsets that may occur and will help to reduce the laxative effects of the treatments.
Extra caution must be taken if you are also taking diuretics and digitalis medications for heart conditions. Discuss with your doctor before use.
The dose of this medication will differ for each patient and for his or her personal conditions. You should always follow your doctor's instructions in taking potassium supplements and should not take them without being ordered to by a doctor. The quantity of the treatment that you take will depend on a wide range of factors including weight, strength of treatment, method of dosing, other medications you are taking and the condition that is being treated. The following dosing information is to be used as a guideline only and you should not change your dose unless ordered to do so:
When using potassium bicarbonate:
- Taken orally as tablets for solution to prevent loss of potassium or to replace potassium lost from the body:
- Adults or teenagers “ 25-50mEq taken twice daily. The doctor may adjust the dose. The dose should not normally exceed 100mEq per day.
- Children “ The dose given will be calculated by the prescribing doctor.
When using potassium chloride and potassium bicarbonate:
- Taken orally as granules for solution to prevent the loss of potassium to replace potassium lost from the body:
- Teenagers and adults “ 20mEq taken once or twice daily. The doctor may adjust this dose but dosage would not normally exceed 100mEq per day.
- Children “ In each case the use in children must be determined by the prescribing doctor.
- Taken orally as tablets for solution to replace potassium that has been lost from the body or to prevent its loss:
- Adults or teenagers “ 20, 25 or 50 mEq taken once or twice daily. This dose can be adjusted by the doctor up to a maximum of 100mEq taken per day.
- Children “ Use must be determined by a doctor in each case.
When using potassium citrate and potassium bicarbonate:
- Taken orally as tablets for solution to return potassium levels in the body to normal levels or to prevent change:
- Teenagers and adults 25-50mEq taken once or twice daily with water. The dose may be changed but should not exceed 100mEq taken daily.
- Children “ The use in children must be established by a prescribing doctor.
When using potassium chloride:
- Taken orally as extended release capsules to replace lost potassium:
- Teenagers and adults “ 16-34mEq taken daily. This dose is split into 2-3 smaller doses. Dosage can be adjusted by the doctor as required. Dosing should not normally exceed 100mEq taken daily.
- Children “ Dosages for children must be determined by the prescribing doctor in all cases.
- Taken orally as extended-release capsules to prevent the loss of potassium:
- Adults and teenagers “ Take 16-24mEq taken daily in 2-3 smaller doses. This may be adjusted by the prescribing doctor but should not normally exceed 100mEq taken daily
- Children “ The use in children should be determined by the doctor in each individual case.
- Taken orally as liquid for solution to replace lost potassium or prevent its loss:
- Adults or teenagers “ 20mEq mixed with a half-glass of chilled water or cold juice. This can be taken 1-4 times daily. The doctor may adjust the dose but this should not exceed 100mEq normally.
- Children “ The dose given will be based on the body weight of the child and must be calculated in each case by the prescribing doctor. The usual dose given will be 1-3mEq/kg. This dose will be split into smaller doses and should be taken with either cold water or cold juice.
- Taken orally as powder for solution to prevent the loss of potassium or to replace lost potassium:
- Adults and teenagers “ Take 15-25mEq taken dissolved in a glass of cold water 2-4 times daily. This dose may be adjusted where this is required. The dose would not normally, however, exceed 100mEq per day.
- Children “ The prescribed dose will be calculated based on the body weight of the child. This must be calculated by the doctor using the normal levels of 1-3mEq/kg. This dose will then be split into smaller doses and taken during the day in a mixture with cold water or cold juice.
- Taken orally as powder for suspension to replace lost potassium or to prevent the loss of potassium from the patient's body:
- Teenagers and adults “ 20 mEq dissolved in a glass of cold water and taken 1-5 times daily. Your doctor may make adjustments to this dose but the usual dose would not normally exceed 100mEq taken daily.
- Children “ The use of this for of potassium supplement must be determined in each individual case by the prescribing doctor.
- Taken orally as extended-release tablets for the prevention of the loss of potassium or for the replacement of previously lost potassium from the body.
- Teenagers and adults “ 6.7-20 mEq consumed thrice daily. Patients should not normally exceed 100mEq per day.
- Children “ The use of extended-release tablets for potassium supplement in children must be determined by the doctor in each case.
- Taken orally as a liquid for solution to replace lost substances or to prevent the loss of them:
- Teenagers and Adults “ 20mEq that has been mixed with a half glass of chilled water or cold juice and taken 1-4 times daily. This dose can be increased by the doctor where this is needed but the dose should not normally exceed the level of 100mEq per day.
- Children “ The dose given will be determined by the prescribing doctor based on the body weight of the child. The dose given will usually be 2-3mEq/kg daily. This dose is then split into 2-3 doses to take throughout the day mixed with cold water or into cold juice.
- Taken orally as a tablet to replace potassium that has been lost from the body:
- Teenagers or Adults “ 5-10mEq taken between 2-4 times daily. Most patients should not exceed 100mEq per day.
- Children “ The use of this form of potassium supplement should be determined in individual cases by the prescribing doctor.
When using potassium chloride and potassium gluconate:
- Taken orally as liquid for solution to treat or prevent potassium loss:
- Adults or teenagers “ 20mEq diluted into a minimum of 2 tablespoons of water or squash. This dose should be taken 2-4 times daily and may be adjusted by the doctor as needed. Most people will not require more than 100mEq per day, however.
- Children “ The dose given will be calculated as 2-3mEq/kg of body weight by the doctor. The dose calculated will be administered in several smaller doses mixed into water or juice throughout the day.
- Taken orally as powder for solution to treat or prevent the loss of potassium from the body of the patient:
- Teenagers or adults “ 20mEq dissolved into cold water or juice and taken 2-4 times per day. The doctor may adjust this dose as required up to a normal maximum of 100 mEq per day.
- Children “ The dose given to children will be based on body weight and calculated as 2-3mEq/kg. This dose will be separated into smaller doses to be taken throughout the day and each should be well mixed with cold water or cold juice.
When using potassium citrate and potassium gluconate:
- Taken orally as liquid for solution to prevent loss of potassium or to treat patients who have lost potassium from the body:
- Adults or Teenagers “ 20mEq mixed with a cold glass of water or a cold glass of juice. This should be taken 2-4 times daily as ordered and the dose may be adjusted by the doctor as required. Most patients will not exceed 100mEq per day.
- Children “ Children will take a dose calculated based on their body weight. The dose usually given is 2-3mEq taken daily in smaller doses. Each dose should be well mixed with cold water or with cold juice.
When using trikates:
- Taken orally as a liquid for solution to replace lost potassium or to prevent levels from dropping:
- Teenagers and adults “ 15mEq mixed with a half-glass of cold water or cold juice and taken 3 or 4 times daily. The doctor can adjust this dose up or down, but should not normally exceed 100mEq per day.
- Children “ The doctor will calculate the dose based on the body weight of the child. This dose will normally be 2-3mEq/kg in total for the day. This dose should be split into 2-4 doses and mixed with juice or water. Ensure this is cold to minimise stomach irritation.
If a dose of this medication is missed then it should be taken as soon as possible. If you are then close to your next dose, however, then you should skip the dose entirely and return to your usual schedule of treatment. You should not take double doses of this medication.
Certain medications should never be used in conjunction with one another because they can interact violently with one another in the body with severe consequences for the patient. Other medications may increase the risk of side effects occurring from the use of another and could even stop another drug from working. Your doctor needs to know of all medications or treatments you are taking whether they are herbal remedies, over the counter treatment, vitamin supplements or other prescribed medications. The medications listed herein interact with potassium and can be dangerous when used in conjunction. This list is not all-inclusive, however, so you should inform your doctor of all treatments and medications that you are taking before beginning use of a potassium supplement.
The following medications should not be used in conjunction with potassium supplements. Your doctor may decided against prescribing potassium for you if you are taking any of the following medications:
- Belladonna Alkaloids
The use of dietary supplements in conjunction with the following treatments would not normally be recommended. In some cases the use of both may be required but your doctor may need to adjust the dose or frequency of use of one or more of the treatments:
- Perflutren Lipid Microsphere
- Enalapril Maleate
- Arsenic Trioxide
Interactions with other medications can also occur. Ensure that you have told your doctor of all medications that you taken before beginning use of a potassium supplement.
Other medical problems from which you are suffering can also prohibit the use of certain treatments. You should inform your doctor of all medical conditions from which you suffer before you begin treatment with a potassium supplement. This is especially important in the following cases
There is a risk of the occurrence of hyperkalemia, which means having too much potassium in the blood, in patients taking potassium supplements. This may worsen the following conditions or cause heart problems:
- Addison's disease
- Type II diabetes mellitus
- Kidney disease
- Continued diarrhea
- Heart disease
The following conditions may be worsened by the use of potassium supplements:
- Heart disease
- Intestinal blockage
- Esophageal blockage
- Stomach ulceration
Potassium supplement use may also be limited by other medical conditions from which you suffer. You should discuss all conditions from which you suffer with your doctor before use.
Before using a potassium supplement you should seriously consider the risk of doing so in relation to the benefits. It is not advisable to take potassium supplements unless you have been ordered to by your doctor. If you are taking non-prescription supplements then you must ensure that you read the label closely and follow the instructions. Before taking these supplements you should ensure that you have considered the following:
Allergies: You should inform your doctor of all allergies you have suffered from. This is particularly important if you have ever had an allergy to a medication that you have received. If you are taking non-prescribed treatments then ready the label for allergy advice.
Pediatric: Only some forms of potassium supplement are recommended for use in children. However, while there is no specific information to compare the use of most treatments in adults and children there is no expectation that results will differ. It is not advisable to give potassium supplements to children unless ordered to by a doctor.
Geriatric: There is no specific information about the use of this treatment in the elderly but there are not expected to be any limiting factors to use and none have been reported. Elderly people are more likely to have heart or kidney conditions, however, that may limit the use of the supplement in individual patients.
Older adults can be at greater risk from developing high levels of potassium in the blood from the use of supplements too.
Pregnancy: Potassium supplements have not been known to cause harm to a developing child. It is very important, however, that normal levels are not exceeded as hyperkalemia can be dangerous to mother and child.
Breastfeeding: Potassium will pass into the breastmilk of the mother but has not been shown to cause harm to a nursing baby.
If you are taking potassium supplements then you should have regular check ups with your doctor so that he can monitor your progress and ensure that the medication is working as desired. This will also help in the avoidance of unwanted and serious side effects. Blood and urine tests may be required during these visits.
You should not consume salt substitutes, consume low sodium milks, nor eat low-salt foodstuffs unless you have been directed in this dietary course by your prescribing doctor. These products often contain higher levels of potassium that may cause your dose to be increased to a dangerous level. You should read the ingredients labeled on your food and avoid added potassium in foods when taking these supplements.
You should consult with your doctor before beginning a new exercise plan. This is especially important if you are presently unfit. Exercise can increase the level of potassium in the blood and could increase levels to a dangerous state. Your doctor may reduce your dose and encourage exercise.
If you recognize any signs of internal bleeding then you must inform your doctor immediately. This medication can cause the condition to worsen rapidly, especially when it is taken in the form of a tablet.
This medication should always be kept out of the reach of children, even when the treatment is for their use.
The container for the mediation should be stored at room temperature at all times and should be kept out of direct light and away from both heat and moisture.
Dispose of unwanted and outdated medication safely and appropriately as directed by your healthcare professional.
Potassium supplements are available in some forms without a prescription but this treatment should not be used unless you have been directed to do so by a doctor. Having too small or too great doses of potassium in your blood can cause serious medical complications in the body and potassium levels should be controlled through a healthy diet.
Potassium may be prescribed to those in poor health, to those undergoing treatments that may cause the loss of potassium, or to those who have an illness that is causing the loss of potassium from the body.
The supplements can be used in adults and in children, as well as in elderly patients.
Potassium supplements can cause diarrhea and vomiting in patients as well as exposing them to risks of other serious medial complications and severe side effects. Patients should ensure that they understand the risks of the use of this treatment before beginning it and should ensure that they have weighed the benefits of the treatment against these potential risks.
Use of potassium supplements during pregnancy and breastfeeding has not been shown to pose a risk when appropriate levels are used.