Potassium citrate is a common form of potassium found in a number of foods and an important compound for maintaining the renal system and other bodily functions. You can find potassium citrate in food like fruits.
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What Is Potassium Citrate?
Potassium citrate is a salt formed when certain forms of potassium react with citric acid. It is present in a number of fruits and vegetables, especially those high in both potassium and citric acid. According to the National Institutes of Health, "Some research suggests that supplementation with potassium citrate reduces ... the risk of kidney stone formation and growth."
The fact sheet for health professionals on potassium continues, "Observational studies suggest that increased consumption of potassium from fruits and vegetables is associated with increased bone mineral density. This evidence, combined with evidence from metabolic studies and a few clinical trials, suggests that dietary potassium may improve bone health."
Potassium is an essential dietary nutrient vital to virtually all bodily processes, present in every human cell. The recommended total daily intake of all forms of potassium is 2,600 milligrams for adult women and 3,400 milligrams for men. There are three main forms of potassium citrate in food: potassium phosphate, potassium sulfate and potassium citrate.
Should You Take Potassium Citrate?
The National Institutes of Health fact sheet reports that the best source of potassium for health is dietary, via fresh fruits and vegetables. If you are considering a potassium supplement, consult your doctor about the right potassium citrate dosage for you. Be sure to mention if you use a sodium substitute containing potassium, as this is important when considering your potassium citrate dosage.
Warning: An overdose from a potassium citrate dosage that is too high and potassium supplements can cause nausea and vomiting, fatigue or confusion, tingling or other strange sensations in the extremities, an abnormal heart rhythm or even cardiac arrest. Seek emergency care immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests getting the bulk of your vital nutrients from produce, particularly potassium: "Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure."
Further, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says, "Vegetables and fruits rich in potassium as part of an overall healthy diet may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss." To get the most benefit from potassium citrate, natural sources are the key.
Signs of Low Potassium Levels
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, it is rare to experience a potassium deficiency when eating a standard diet, as it is found in an abundance of foods. Certain conditions that cause fluid loss, as well as a deficiency in magnesium which balances potassium levels, can cause symptoms of potassium deficiency as well.
These symptoms are not entirely dissimilar to the symptoms of potassium overdose, as the systems which malfunction are the same. Once again, these symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains or irregular heart rate
Contact a doctor before taking potassium supplements, and seek emergency medical care if you experience any of these symptoms. Potassium supplements can be contraindicated with a number of health conditions as well as various medications.
One important factor in potassium levels is the balance between potassium and sodium. A landmark cohort study published July 2011 in the Archives of Internal Medicine found people who ate a diet high in sodium and low in potassium were at a significantly greater risk of early death from a heart attack or, in fact, any other cause.
The study suggests making dietary changes with this in mind: "Because sodium is added to many foods, especially processed foods, while potassium is naturally present in most foods, a low sodium-potassium ratio may be a marker of high intake of plant foods and lower intake of processed foods."
In other words, eat less cheese, aged meats, breads, canned soups, fast foods, pastries and other sugary products. Replace these convenience foods with fruits, vegetables, fresh dairy and hot beverages like tea.
Potassium Citrate in Food
Because potassium citrate in food is produced in the presence of citric acid, it is most common in foods that contain this acid in abundance, the best sources being fruit. Pomegranate juice and orange juice are popular choices, both high in potassium based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as well as citric acid, making them excellent citrate natural sources.
One cup of pomegranate arils (the fruit, with flesh, juice and seed) contains:
- Almost 3 grams of protein
- Just over 2 grams of fat
- 32.5 grams of carbohydrates
- 7 grams of fiber and 23.8 grams of sugar
The bulk of the fiber and fat is present in the pomegranate seeds, while the vitamin and mineral content, along with the sugars come from the juice. One cup of pomegranate juice also has 27 milligrams of calcium and 0.25 milligrams of iron.
A September 2017 literature review in Nutrients found that, "A small number of human clinical trials have highlighted the positive effects of pomegranate juice and extract consumption on cardiovascular health." The authors recommend further research in human trials on the role that pomegranate juice might play in lowering inflammation in the body.
All citrus fruits are sources of citric acid and many are also a good source of potassium. One cup of orange juice contains 496 milligrams of potassium, and as you may suspect, citric acid is the acid which naturally forms inside citrus fruits.
One cup of fresh orange juice also contains:
- 1.74 grams of protein
- 0.5 grams of fat
- Just over 25 grams of carbohydrates
- 0.5 grams of fiber and just over 20 grams of sugars
- 27 milligrams of calcium and 0.5 milligrams of iron
A December 2014 study of dietary therapies for kidney stone prevention published in the Korean Journal of Urology found that lemon, lime, orange and melon had the greatest concentration of citrate for use as a dietary intervention against hypocitraturia, abnormally low citrate excretion.
"Consuming fruit juice prevents stone formation not only because it increases urine volume but also because it is high in potassium and citric acid," the report states. "Citrate prevents stone formation by two mechanisms. First, it binds with urinary calcium, thereby reducing the supersaturation of urine. In addition, it binds calcium oxalate crystals and prevents crystal growth."
One cup of unsweetened passion fruit juice contains a whopping 687 milligrams of potassium. It is another one of the citrate natural sources. While purple passion fruits are sweeter, yellow passion fruits are high in citric acid, and it shows in their sour taste.
Yellow passion fruits contain more than four times as much citric acid as purple, according to a lecture by Prof. Robert J. Lancashire in the Department of Chemistry at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, so it is an even better option for people seeking citrate natural sources.
One cup of unsweetened yellow passion fruit juice also contains:
- 1.65 grams of protein
- less than half a gram of fat
- 35.69 grams of carbohydrates, almost all of which is sugar
- 0.5 grams of dietary fiber
- 10 milligrams of calcium and 0.89 milligrams of iron
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration: "CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: PubChem: "Citric Acid"
- National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements: "Potassium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus: "Potassium"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: ChooseMyPlate: "Nutrients and Health Benefits"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Potassium"
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020: Appendix 10. Food Sources of Potassium"
- Journal of Food Composition and Analysis: "Organic Acids and Phenolic Compounds in Pomegranates (Punica granatum L.) Grown in Turkey"
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release: "Basic Report: 09286, Pomegranates, Raw"
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release: "Basic Report: 09233, Passion-fruit Juice, Yellow, Raw"
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release: "Basic Report: 09206, Orange Juice, Raw (Includes Foods for USDA's Food Distribution Program)"
- Nutrients: "Could Pomegranate Juice Help in the Control of Inflammatory Diseases?"
- Korean Journal of Urology: "Medical and Dietary Therapy for Kidney Stone Prevention"
- University of the West Indies Department of Chemistry: "The Chemistry of Passion Fruit"
- Archives of Internal Medicine: "Sodium and Potassium Intake and Mortality Among US Adults"