Your body requires the mineral potassium because it maintains the balance between minerals and fluids in your body. It is required for your cells to function normally. Your risk for cardiovascular disease is increased when you do not consume enough potassium. You need to take in 4.7 g daily. Many foods like bananas, cantaloupe, oranges, apples, potatoes and carrots contain potassium. You'll also find it in supplement form. Supplemental potassium can cause side effects, so consult a doctor before trying it.
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The most common problems associated with supplemental potassium are nausea and vomiting, according to "Life Cycle Nutrition," by Sari Edelstein and Judith Sharlin. Other common side effects include diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. Taking large amounts can cause muscle fatigue, irregular heartbeat and heart attack, according to "The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide," by George T. Grossberg and Barry Fox. Also consult a doctor before taking potassium supplements because using it with numerous medications including amiloride and losartan raises your risk for blood levels of potassium that are too high.
If you take potassium supplements on an empty stomach you are likely to experience stomach distress, according to "Ultimate Sports Nutrition," by Frederick C. Hatfield. Instead, consume potassium supplements along with meals. Also consult your doctor before trying supplemental potassium if you have a health condition. For example, oral potassium supplements can worsen gastroesophageal reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome and constipation, note Grossberg and Fox.
Consult your doctor before taking supplemental potassium and follow all directions for dosage. If the dosage you are using results in persistent symptoms like upset stomach, nausea, vomiting or stomach pain, discuss your symptoms with your doctor, advise the experts at Drugs.com. Also check with your doctor if you have persistent diarrhea or loose bowel movements.
If you experience severe stomach pain after taking supplemental potassium that is severe or have vomit that resembles coffee grounds get immediate medical attention, according to Drugs.com. Also seek immediate medical aid if you experience confusion, black and tarry stools, tingling in your hands and feet, weakness or symptoms of a severe allergic reaction such as hives, difficulty breathing, chest tightness or swelling in your face, tongue or throat.
- National Academies Press; Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate; Food and Nutrition Board; 2005
- “Ultimate Sports Nutrition”; Frederick C. Hatfield; 1987
- “Life Cycle Nutrition”; Sari Edelstein, Judith Sharlin; 2009
- Drugs.com: Potassium Citrate; June 2011
- Drugs.com: Potassium Content of Foods List; June 2011
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.