Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 10-16-2012, 03:21 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 748
What's up with potassium supplements?

In the summertime when it's hot outside I tend to have problems with cramps, mostly in my feet and hands. I have been told that sometimes this is caused by a potassium deficiency.

Coincidentally, late last summer I was diagnosed with hypertension. As part of my treatment plan my doctor told me to reduce my sodium intake.

So I went to the grocery and purchased Morton's Salt Substitute for when I'm eating something that really needs some (pseudo-)salty goodness. I also purchased potassium supplement tablets.

I didn't read the fine print until I got home. Yeah, I know, serves me right that I wasted my money. The potassium supplements have a recommended dose of one tablet per day which provides a whopping big 3% of the recommended daily amount. I mean, why bother?

The salt substitute on the other hand is made of potassium chloride. A quarter teaspoon of the stuff provides 17% of the RDA for potassium.

So how come they don't make the potassium supplements out of salt substitute?
#2
Old 10-16-2012, 03:26 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 5,441
I was going to ask the same question. I'm certain it's because an OD of potassium is fatal. The problem is that potassium seems to be very difficult to come by diet. I've never seen anything that really had much potassium and when I track my potassium I'm always very low. So the real question for me is, what's the deal with potassium supplements or dietary. It seems impossible to get the recommended amount and much over that is fatal. So why is the recommended intake so high.
#3
Old 10-16-2012, 03:26 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 27,084
I wonder if it is intentionally small in order that you won't overdose on potassium, which is potentially fatal. Which is also possible with potassium chloride, but it would taste really awful! Whereas it would be more feasible to get an overly high dose of potassium by simply swallowing lots of more palatable pills.

Also, in order to make it into a pill form they have to bind it somehow, which will decrease the potassium per volume vis a vis potassium chloride. How big are the pills? If they are really tiny, it might not be possible to pack more potassium into them.
#4
Old 10-16-2012, 03:28 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 26,895
There are potassium supplements with much more potassium but they are usually by prescription only. The reason they don't sell them over the counter is that it is easy to overdose on potassium when it is in supplement form and that can be very bad news. Hyperkalemia (high blood potassium concentration) can cause cardiac arrest and sudden death.

Potassium obtained through the normal diet doesn't pose such a risk. People also don't generally eat enough high-potassium salt substitute to cause the same issue because it is simply too salty.

I agree that OTC potassium supplements are a borderline scam because they contain so little potassium. It is better just to eat extra bananas or other high potassium foods to boost calcium blood levels. Multiviatamins usually have about the same potassium as dedicated supplements.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 10-16-2012 at 03:30 PM.
#5
Old 10-16-2012, 03:30 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 5,441
Wasn't there a banana diet back in the 70's that killed a few people?
#6
Old 10-16-2012, 03:41 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: U.K.
Posts: 12,068
Quote:
Originally Posted by WarmNPrickly View Post
I was going to ask the same question. I'm certain it's because an OD of potassium is fatal. The problem is that potassium seems to be very difficult to come by diet. I've never seen anything that really had much potassium and when I track my potassium I'm always very low. So the real question for me is, what's the deal with potassium supplements or dietary. It seems impossible to get the recommended amount and much over that is fatal. So why is the recommended intake so high.
All foods (apart from refined sugar, and the like) contain potassium, and most people, unless they are taking diuretics or some such, ought not to need potassium supplements or even particularly potassium rich foods. If you are chronically low in potassium, and are not taking a diuretic (or way too much sodium) you probably have a kidney problem.
#7
Old 10-16-2012, 03:47 PM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Toadspittle Hill
Posts: 6,118
I think we've had this discussion before. The OD level for potassium is perilously close to the RDA for it, if I recall. A very tight balance. I think people have OD'd from salt substitutes, even.
#8
Old 10-16-2012, 03:52 PM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Toadspittle Hill
Posts: 6,118
Doh! It was the Master:

Can salt substitute kill you?
#9
Old 10-16-2012, 03:58 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 5,441
Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
All foods (apart from refined sugar, and the like) contain potassium, and most people, unless they are taking diuretics or some such, ought not to need potassium supplements or even particularly potassium rich foods. If you are chronically low in potassium, and are not taking a diuretic (or way too much sodium) you probably have a kidney problem.
I'm not concerned about my potassium level, but I find it curious that when I track my diet with on of those diet tracker apps, the potassium never approaches the RDA. It seems that the RDA must be too high if it is so close to dangerous and I'm fine without getting the RDA every day I've tracked it.
#10
Old 10-16-2012, 04:31 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 2,342
My potassium is dangerously low because I go through periods (days, even) when I just don't eat. My magnesium is also low for this reason, as is my Vitamin D. I supplement with orange juice and V-8 (the original veggie drink). Both are loaded with potassium.

Ensure is also a good substitute but it's a bit heavy for me.
#11
Old 10-16-2012, 04:48 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,616
The LD50 for potassium chloride is 2.5 grams per kilogram, which is to say, so much higher than the RDA that you don't even have to come close to worrying about overdose, which is (hyperkalemia) mostly associated with causes other than diet (the LD50 for injection is much lower at only 30 mg/kg, less than your recommended daily intake, because your body can't handle the sudden influx directly into the bloodstream). In fact, there isn't even a tolerable upper intake for potassium. For comparison, for sodium it is 2,300 mg (5.8 grams of NaCl) - less than what most people consume, with the recommended intake for potassium at 4,700 mg per day (equivalent to 9 grams of KCl), but the average intake is only about half that.
#12
Old 10-16-2012, 05:37 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: On the Fence
Posts: 5,243
The DRI ( Dietary Reference Intake) is set such that it will cover 98% of healthy individuals. Your individual need for any specific nutrient may be (and probably is) much lower. There is no Upper Limit for potassium because there is no evidence that chronic excess intake of potassium in apparently health individuals has any ill effects. If you are eating at 60% of the DRI, you are probably getting plenty of potassium for your individual needs.

A fatal dose is in fact no where near close to the DRI level of 4700mg per day. It's 2600mg PER KILOGRAM of a person's weight or for a 75kg person, 195,000mg. NO. WHERE. CLOSE. You could have to be eating 4000% of the DRI to approach a lethal dose. Or 487 bananas. If you could eat 487 bananas in one sitting, you'd probably die of a gastrointestinal rupture before a potassium overdose.
#13
Old 10-16-2012, 07:07 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Sweet Home Chicago
Posts: 33,496
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey Monkey View Post
If you could eat 487 bananas in one sitting, you'd probably die of a gastrointestinal rupture before a potassium overdose.
Or being attacked by monkeys wielding hockey sticks...
#14
Old 10-16-2012, 07:42 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 26,895
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey Monkey View Post
A fatal dose is in fact no where near close to the DRI level of 4700mg per day. It's 2600mg PER KILOGRAM of a person's weight or for a 75kg person, 195,000mg. NO. WHERE. CLOSE. You could have to be eating 4000% of the DRI to approach a lethal dose. Or 487 bananas. If you could eat 487 bananas in one sitting, you'd probably die of a gastrointestinal rupture before a potassium overdose.
That brings us back to the original question however. Why aren't potassium supplements with significant amounts of potassium available over the counter?

I had to take the prescription potassium supplemnets a few years ago during a very serious health problem and I got monitored closely while I was on them (frequent blood tests). My General Practitioner cut them off as soon as went into low normal range for potassium levels because he said the risk of cardiac arrest wasn't worth it unless it was absolutely necessary to take them.

Ok, that was for a quick correction of a clinical issue but getting up to the RDA of potassium really is extremely hard through normal diet. Most foods have a few percent of it at most. The question of why the RDA is so difficult to achieve is one that I have wondered as well. Few people apparently approach it so why is that the recommended level? Other nutrients aren't like that to the best of my knowledge.

Why don't they sell potassium supplements that are say 25 - 50% of the recommended daily value if there is little danger? My guess based on some knowledge of pharmacology is that it is a rapid absorption risk that concentrated potassium in pills pose that regular foods do not.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 10-16-2012 at 07:46 PM.
#15
Old 10-16-2012, 08:06 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,616
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty View Post
Ok, that was for a quick correction of a clinical issue but getting up to the RDA of potassium really is extremely hard through normal diet. Most foods have a few percent of it at most. The question of why the RDA is so difficult to achieve is one that I have wondered as well. Few people apparently approach it so why is that the recommended level? Other nutrients aren't like that to the best of my knowledge.
Probably because those levels were determined to be the most optimal for long-term health; similar to how you hear 75% of people worldwide have Vitamin D deficiency, even those that get plenty of sunlight (there was a discussion a while ago about this, where I said that the recommended blood levels were perhaps set too high and I got a similar explanation). Also, there are in fact other nutrients that people don't get enough of, at least according to the set RDA, like magnesium (on the other hand, how come some nutrients, like calcium, have so much attention paid to them, I get more than enough from milk alone so I don't need all of this calcium-fortified food (I know some people don't drink milk but then most of the world is lactose intolerant as adults), and why not fortify it with nutrients like magnesium, especially processed wheat flour which loses it when they remove the germ and bran but isn't added as enrichment?).

That said, potassium apparently isn't restricted from food; I have seen reduced sodium canned soup with over 1,000 mg per serving (2,000 mg per can, a more realistic serving size, at least I eat the whole can at once, being only 200-400 calories total). Some people don't like the taste though, but I hardly notice any difference.

Also, on nutrition labels that show the recommended RDA/maximum intake of nutrients (as shown here), I note that they say 3,500 mg for potassium, not 4,700 mg; similarly, sodium is set at 2,400 mg but I often seen 2,300 as a recommended limit.
#16
Old 10-16-2012, 08:07 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Sweet Home Chicago
Posts: 33,496
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty View Post
My guess based on some knowledge of pharmacology is that it is a rapid absorption risk that concentrated potassium in pills pose that regular foods do not.
My guess is this is it. At least with IV forms, they absolutely pound it into us in nursing school that you do NOT "push" potassium, even in an emergency. Always on a pump, always slow. Potassium push=Kevorkian.

While absorption is going to be slower through the gut, it seems that you still want to go slow. It's not that too much potassium in a day from natural sources is absolutely impossible, it's that you can't get it in you fast enough to cause a problem. Unless you concentrate it in a pill. (Even then, I'm pretty sure someone asked something about this recently, and I did the math and discovered you'd have to work pretty hard to take enough of even prescription potassium pills to overdose.)
#17
Old 10-16-2012, 08:31 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: On the Fence
Posts: 5,243
Again, the DRI (or what used to be RDA) is set to cover the needs of 98% of the population. It is impossible to know any one individual's true need, so individual recommendations can't be made. That's why they set the DRIs high. Your true need may be significantly less and if you get 50% of the DRI it may be just right for you.

Information on DRIs

On Potassium specifically - the Adequate Intake is 4.7 grams or 47mg.

From the text:
On the basis of available data, an Adequate Intake (AI) for potassium is set at 4.7 g (120 mmol)/day for all adults. This level of dietary intake (i.e., from foods) should maintain lower blood pressure levels, reduce the adverse effects of sodium chloride intake on blood pressure, reduce the risk of recurrent kidney stones, and possibly decrease bone loss. Because of insufficient data from dose-response trials demonstrating these effects, an Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) could not be established, and thus a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) could not be derived.
At present, dietary intake of potassium by all groups in the United States and Canada is considerably lower than the AI. In recent surveys, the median intake of potassium by adults in the United States was approximately 2.8 to 3.3 g (72 to 84 mmol)/day2 for men and 2.2 to 2.4 g (56 to 61 mmol)/day for women; in Canada, the median intakes ranged from 3.2 to 3.4 g (82 to 87 mmol)/day for men and 2.4 to 2.6 g (62 to 67 mmol)/day for women (Appendix Tables D-5 and F-3). Because African Americans have a relatively low intake of potassium and a high prevalence of elevated blood pressure and salt sensitivity, this subgroup of the population would especially benefit from an increased intake of potassium.

It's not difficult for a healthy adult to get the recommended amount of potassium if you are eating a balanced diet. The problem is that the typical American diet is short on fruits, vegetables and dairy, which are good sources of potassium. There can be concerns for people with kidney issues, but for most people too much potassium isn't something they should lose any sleep over.
#18
Old 10-16-2012, 08:38 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: On the Fence
Posts: 5,243
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael63129 View Post
Also, on nutrition labels that show the recommended RDA/maximum intake of nutrients (as shown here), I note that they say 3,500 mg for potassium, not 4,700 mg; similarly, sodium is set at 2,400 mg but I often seen 2,300 as a recommended limit.
Daily Values and DRIs are not quite the same thing. Daily Values are used for food labeling only.
#19
Old 10-16-2012, 08:54 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2003
Location: DC
Posts: 5,649
Cecil's column is not what I'd expect given the LD50s. As mentioned, the uptake rates may be key here, although I had heard that the body is very good at NOT absorbing too much potassium from the gut -- that or it was very good at excreting excess; I can't remember. Wiki tells me hyperkalemia is often due to inhibited excretion.
Quote:
Originally Posted by the wikitubes
Note that for a person with normal kidney function and nothing interfering with normal elimination (see above), hyperkalemia by potassium intake would be seen only with large infusions of KCl or oral doses of several hundred milliequivalents of KCl.
I have to wonder if the folks mentioned in the column had kidney problems.
#20
Old 10-16-2012, 09:26 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: On the Fence
Posts: 5,243
I had that same thought. The people in the column had to have had an underlying medical issue that prevented excretion of any excess potassium.
#21
Old 10-16-2012, 10:00 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Sunny California
Posts: 14,411
I have here a bottle of V8 Low Sodium Original 100% Vegetable Juice (from concentrate with added ingredients) of which, according to the label, one 8 oz (240 mL) serving provides:
  • Sodium: 140 mg (6% DV)
  • Potassium: 900 mg (25% DV)

Prune Juice is high-K stuff too. I have a generic store-brand bottle that doesn't mention it on the label, but a certain major brand name, OTOH, does. Apparently it's natural, not an additive.

What I always found hard-to-get is the B vitamins. All the foods that are allegedly high in B vitamins tend to have %DV in the high one-digit range. That's high?

Last edited by Senegoid; 10-16-2012 at 10:01 PM.
#22
Old 10-17-2012, 12:32 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: On the Fence
Posts: 5,243
B Vitamins are found in small amounts, but you only need small amounts. Your body can store extra B12 in the liver, so you don't have to necessarily eat it every day. Most cereals are fortified with the B vitamins as well. All of the B vitamins are in the food supply in fortified products, but even so, every single B vitamin is pretty easy to get plenty of if you eat a balanced diet. As I said before, most Americans are short on veggies, fruits and dairy which are excellent sources for these vitamins.

BTW, I'm majoring in Nutrition Science and studying this stuff right now. I don't know everything, obviously, but I will try to find answers and give you correct information based on current science and my course studies.

Last edited by Hockey Monkey; 10-17-2012 at 12:35 AM.
#23
Old 10-17-2012, 01:30 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Richland
Posts: 965
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockey Monkey View Post
...On Potassium specifically - the Adequate Intake is 4.7 grams or 47mg.
4.7 grams equals 4,700 mg ( 1 gram = 1,000 mg)
#24
Old 10-17-2012, 01:41 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: On the Fence
Posts: 5,243
Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterman View Post
4.7 grams equals 4,700 mg ( 1 gram = 1,000 mg)
That's what I meant to type, but somehow didn't. Sorry 'bout that.
#25
Old 10-17-2012, 02:49 PM
Just Lovely and Delicious
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Northeast Ohio
Posts: 23,660
Quote:
Originally Posted by WarmNPrickly View Post
I'm not concerned about my potassium level, but I find it curious that when I track my diet with on of those diet tracker apps, the potassium never approaches the RDA. It seems that the RDA must be too high if it is so close to dangerous and I'm fine without getting the RDA every day I've tracked it.
Do note that a lot of tracking apps are "crowd sourced" and the entries are made by regular folks who may not put in values for potassium when they enter a food into the database. People sometimes just put in the values they're interested in (fat, carbs, protein) and share it with the rest of the world and we all think we're eating sodium-free pretzels!
#26
Old 07-04-2013, 01:30 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 18,097
Supposedly it is limited because potassium can damage the stomach and gastrointestinal lining.

As an electrolyte K is not really anymore dangerous than sodium. The LD50 is similar, and excess is generally removed by the kidneys unless you have kidney disease.

I have been adding a few hundred mg of potassium to orange juice and drinking that a couple times a day, I hope that isn't causing stomach damage.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassi...on_and_disease


Potassium salts are also available in tablets or capsules, which for therapeutic purposes are formulated to allow potassium to leach slowly out of a matrix, as very high concentrations of potassium ion (which might occur next to a solid tablet of potassium chloride) can kill tissue, and cause injury to the gastric or intestinal mucosa. For this reason, non-prescription supplement potassium pills are limited by law in the US to only 99 mg of potassium.
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:23 AM.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: locking guitar case z message board skyy boards one legged prostitute alkaline grass cap wiz ps4 vs steam musical knowledge ref chants google earth contour frazier cheers mydeathspace archive maglite troubleshooting car grab handle prn meaning job nigger rig secular gospel music wags slang ass length hair friends anorexia billboard moldy bacon agravados number upper arm hair jfk hair pronounce odysseus enya wikipedia going steady sine cubed 5th decade elk liver recipes porkins quotes inbred cat infinitely synonym prius traction control pet razor comb navy seals drown proofing test examples of feudalism today civ 4 tips for beginners black and white food forgot how to swallow what glue to use for bookbinding percy helton winnie the pooh heel spur surgery recovery time girl version of cockblock mix flour and water propane tank safety valve stuck co op rpg xbox 360 goose meat price per pound backwards 3 with a line through it zz top gimme all your lovin lyrics buses from staten island to new jersey what happens if you leave clothes in the dryer for too long witcher 2 tutorial stuck how does a ski lift work if police officer messes up ticket how big would a human wingspan have to be laminate social security card retract bid on ebay san giorgio macaroni and cheese recipe on back of box someone stole my license plate how long to wait to plug in freezer after moving far side cow agent how to find underground water lines what does calypso say in pirates of the caribbean wenger swiss military watch battery replacement wine drunk vs beer drunk is tweety a boy or girl