Potassium is one of the most important minerals in the body and essential for overall health of cells, tissues and organs. Aside from being a mineral, potassium is also an electrolyte and works hand in hand with many other important minerals like magnesium, sodium and calcium. In fact, if your potassium levels are too high (hyperkalemia) or too low (hypokalemia) your entire body will suffer and other deficiencies could occur.
As vital as potassium is, it’s important to become educated before choosing to supplement with this mineral to prevent over-supplementation and negative side-effects. You’ll have to watch your potassium intake, especially if you are supplementing. Before you run to the store and pick up the first potassium supplement you see you should take the time to understand how potassium affects the body and which type of supplement is best for you.
Why Potassium is Important
It’s clear that potassium is necessary but many people don’t know just how important this mineral is. Potassium plays many roles within the body but it best known for it’s positive effects on cardiovascular health.
This mineral also helps maintain a healthy, strong skeletal structure and even aids in proper digestion. Some people may already be familiar with potassium and its effect on muscular health. Not only does potassium help in muscle function but also reduces muscle cramping, twitching and contractions.
Here are a few reasons why you need to maintain proper potassium levels in your body:
- Prevents Osteoporosis – There is a strong link between potassium and bone health, as mentioned. Potassium, in particular, is important for the prevention of osteoporosis, especially in elderly women.
- Helps Control High Blood Pressure – Some doctors believe potassium could be key in reducing high blood pressure. Hypertension along with a deficiency in potassium can be a severe problem but supplementation can really help.
- Reduces Risk of Heart Diseases and Stroke – Those that consume a diet high in potassium have a reduced risk of heart disease and a lowered risk of death if heart disease, a heart attack or a stroke occurs.
- Improves Symptoms of IBD – People with IBD tend to have a more difficult time absorbing nutrients and therefore could have lowered potassium levels. Supplementing with potassium could be necessary and will help with the symptoms of IBD.
- Improves Muscle Weakness and Overall Muscular Health
- Can help treat kidney problems (with doctor’s supervision)
The only way to know for certain if you have a potassium deficiency is to have tests done by your doctor. The symptoms of low potassium aren’t always obvious but can present in a couple ways, such as :
- Sudden muscle spasms or weakness
- Heart palpitations
- General fatigue and lethargy
- Numbness in extremities
If you do suspect a deficiency it’s important to consult your doctor prior to adding any potassium supplement to your diet. Of course, many of the signs of a potassium deficiency could be another mineral deficiency at the same time, or separately, for example, if you have sore, stiff muscles and are feeling generally weak, it could be a magnesium deficiency or even a lack of calcium as well.
Types of Potassium Supplements
Potassium supplements come in a few different forms, which can make choosing one tricky. There are not only different forms of potassium but also choices in how the supplement is delivered. Some different types of potassium include:
- Potassium chloride
- Potassium phosphate
- Potassium gluconate
- Potassium citrate
- Potassium aspartate
- Potassium bicarbonate
The reasons it’s important to consult a doctor prior to starting a potassium supplement is because these different types perform different roles and not all will effectively treat a deficiency. For example, even if you’re taking a potassium citrate supplement you may not be addressing the real issue if your deficiency is related to chloride.
Overall potassium chloride is the most widely used potassium supplement, particularly when it comes to treating a deficiency. Another good choice is potassium bicarbonate, which is best for those that are trying to treat metabolic acidosis.
As for how much you should be supplementing, the recommended daily dietary intake is 2,000mg. Majority of people probably already consume this amount or close to it. Diets rich in a variety of fresh produce and dairy will likely support health potassium levels without supplementation.
Best Potassium Supplements
If you’d like to start supplementing with potassium there are many options to choose from, but not all supplements are as high-quality as others. Here are the top 5 best potassium supplements to choose from.
Vita Jym Performance Multivitamin
Most doctors recommend that if you decide to supplement with potassium that you do so with a multivitamin. It can be difficult to find potassium in a multivitamin since many manufacturers find that it is unnecessary.
One example of a multivitamin that does contain potassium is the Vita Jym by Jym Nutrition. Vita Jym is considered a performance multivitamin and includes potassium with muscle health in mind. That being said this multivitamin is still great for anyone that wants a higher performing daily vitamin.
This supplement contains high levels of numerous vitamins and minerals, with potassium coming in at 100mg per serving (2 tablets). Vita Jym retails for just over $20 for 60 tablets.
NOW Foods Potassium Chloride
NOW Foods is a very reputable brand that offers excellently priced, quality supplements. They have a few different potassium choices but their Potassium Chloride[ powder is a safe bet. This powder is free of sodium and is pharmaceutical grade. NOW did add potassium carbonate to this powder but only in small amounts, leaving this powder essentially pure potassium chloride.
Since this is a powder and not a tablet it does make consumption a little trickier but it is more quickly absorbed by the body. A serving size of this powder is ⅛ of a teaspoon, which should be taken with a meal. Simply mix the powder into 8oz of water or any other beverage and drink. NOW doesn’t recommend exceeding 3 servings per day since 1 serving offers 365mg of potassium.
Ecological Formulas Magnesium Potassium Taurate
Sometimes a blend can be more useful for the body than a single ingredient supplement. Since potassium relies on other minerals to function properly, and vice versa, the magnesium potassium taurate by Ecological Formulas is perfect for complete body health. This blend includes high levels of both magnesium taurate and potassium taurate, along with very small levels of magnesium stearate.
This supplement comes in capsules that contain 45mg of magnesium and 99mg of potassium. Retail is $10.95 for a 60 capsule bottle. This choice is ideal for those that want more potassium as well as magnesium in their diet or suspect they may not be getting enough magnesium via diet alone.
Solaray Potassium Amino Acid Complex
Solaray designed their Potassium Amino Acid Complex for those struggling with potassium levels due to dietary restrictions and is created with food sensitivities in mind. While other brands rely on soy, yeast or milk to chelate potassium Solaray uses whole rice concentrate. This whole rice concentrate offers 7x more amino acids than soy.
The potassium in this supplement is, therefore, a potassium amino acid complex rather than a pure potassium. This product retails for under $14 for 200 capsules.
|Brands||Amount of Potassium per Serving||Type of Supplement||Price|
|Vita Jym||100mg per serving||Multivitamin||$20 for 60 tablets|
|NOW Foods||365mg of potassium||Potassium Chloride Powder||$12.88 (Check here for the latest prices!)|
|Ecological Formulas||99mg of potassium||Magnesium Potassium Taurate||$10.95 for a 60 capsules (Check here for the latest prices!)|
|Solaray||99mg of potassium||Potassium Amino Acid Complex||$14 for 200 capsules (Check here for the latest prices!)|
It might not be a supplement but easily the most effective way of getting more potassium is through diet. Often times low levels of potassium can be remedied simply by adding more potassium-rich foods to the diet.
These foods include avocado, acorn squash, bananas, wild-caught salmon, spinach, yogurt, sweet potatoes, and coconut water, just to name a few. Typically if you strive to eat a healthy diet you’ll probably get all the potassium your body needs.
What are the best potassium-rich foods?
- Winter squash, cubed, 1 cup, cooked: 896 mg
- Sweet potato, medium, baked with skin: 694 mg
- Potato, medium, baked with skin: 610 mg
- White beans, canned, drained, half cup: 595 mg
- Yogurt, fat-free, 1 cup: 579 mg
- Halibut, 3 ounces, cooked: 490 mg
- 100% orange juice, 8 ounces: 496 mg
- Broccoli, 1 cup, cooked: 457 mg
- Cantaloupe, cubed, 1 cup: 431 mg
- Banana, 1 medium: 422 mg
- Pork tenderloin, 3 ounces, cooked: 382 mg
- Lentils, half cup, cooked: 366 mg
- Milk, 1% low fat, 8 ounces: 366 mg
- Salmon, farmed Atlantic, 3 ounces, cooked: 326 mg
- Pistachios, shelled, 1 ounce, dry roasted: 295 mg
- Raisins, quarter cup: 250 mg
- Chicken breast, 3 ounces, cooked: 218 mg
- Tuna, light, canned, drained, 3 ounces: 201 mg
(List source: WebMD)
Bonus Selection: Thorne Research – Potassium Citrate
If you’ve ever used Thorne supplements, you know that they are a superior, quality product compared to most out there. My bonus selection and update for 2018 is the Potassium Citrate from Thorne Research. A lot of problems with supplements happen around absorption, which is why if you need to take a potassium supplement, it is a good idea to get one that increases absorption in your gut. That’s why this pick from Thorne is such a good one.
At only 12.30 per bottle (on Amazon), this potassium selection is one of the least expensive, even with the high-quality. Potassium Citrate is generally used to treat certain conditions, promote kidney health and also help with muscle function as well.
This is worth the buy. I am not a doctor but someone who has done lots of research and tried all sorts of things to prevent any gout attacks from happening i couldnt be happier i discovered this. As i am on a ketogenic diet and tend to eat a good amount of red meats i have not had any signs of gout. great buy!!!!
I bought this to help with my night leg cramps. I have had NO MORE leg cramps since the first day I started taking this!
What is the difference between Potassium Chloride and Potassium Citrate?
How do you know you need to take Potassium?
It can be tough to diagnose a Potassium deficiency on your own, so I would recommend talking to your front-line health practitioner, or your Naturopath to find out if you have a Potassium deficiency. People with eating disorders, or on very strict diets, or have had bariatric surgery are prone to having a deficiency in potassium.
Some symptoms of low potassium can include:
- Weakness, tiredness, and cramping in arm or leg muscles, sometimes severe enough to cause inability to move arms or legs due to weakness (much like a paralysis)
- Tingling or numbness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal cramping, bloating
- Heart palpitations
- Passing large amounts of urine or feeling very thirsty most of the time
- Fainting due to low blood pressure
- Abnormal psychological behavior – depression, psychosis, delirium, confusion, or hallucinations.
If you are feeling constantly tired, your muscles feel sore and crampy even though you haven’t done any extra exercise, or feel faint and dizzy for no apparent reason, you may have a potassium deficiency. However, this isn’t something you can diagnose on your own.
If your primary care doctor or naturopath has recommended you take a potassium supplement, the above list is a good place to start.
Some Final Thoughts
It is important to maintain healthy levels of potassium, but as mentioned earlier it is very important to consult with your doctor if you suspect a deficiency. Unlike some other minerals that will simply be expelled from your body if unneeded, too much potassium can cause serious side effects so always be cautious.
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