Potassium gluconate is a type of potassium supplement. Potassium is an electrolyte, or a mineral in your blood and other body fluids that carry an electric charge. It is important to keep a balance of electrolytes in your body. Most people can get all the potassium they need from a healthy diet. However, some people who lack potassium may choose to take a supplement. Those who suffer from malabsorption syndromes, such as Crohn's disease, or take loop diuretics, may especially benefit from taking a supplement.
Consuming twice as much potassium as sodium in the diet reduces your risk of dying from heart disease, according to a study published by Paul Whelton in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Taking potassium supplements may cause a drop in blood pressure, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, the effect may only occur if you start out deficient in potassium. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease.
Hypokalemia, or low potassium, can be caused by lack of potassium in the diet. It can also be caused by using a diuretic or having diarrhea or vomiting for long periods of time, according to the Merck Manual of Health and Aging. Hypokalemia can lead to low insulin, increasing blood sugar. If potassium stays very low, fatigue, confusion, muscle weakness and cramps can result. Very severe hypokalemia can cause paralysis and abnormal heart rhythms, or arrythmias. Potassium supplements can treat hypokalemia.
Diets high in potassium may have a beneficial effect on bone health. A diet high in bicarbonate, found in fruits and vegetables, and potassium, present in dairy products, significantly reduces bone turnover, or bone breakdown and reformation, according to a 2008 study published by Susan A. Lanham-New in the Journal of Nutrition. The effect could have also been due to other components in the potassium-rich foods.
The ratio of sodium to potassium is is critical for muscle contraction, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Low potassium can cause muscle cramping. Potassium is also necessary for the building of muscle.