Potassium supplements may help you maintain the recommended amount of potassium your body needs every day. Potassium is an essential mineral the body needs to regulate blood pressure, levels of acidity and water balance along with sodium. It is also called an electrolyte since it is involved in the cellular and electrical functions of the body. However, you should be aware of potential potassium side effects as well as the benefits to potassium supplements before you add them to your health regimen.
There is no recommended daily allowance for potassium dosage since potassium deficiency is rare. However, children generally take in a range of 780 to 1600 milligrams per day while adults take in 1600 to 2000 milligrams a day. This range is usually maintained in a regular balanced diet. Bananas, strawberries, tuna, potatoes and cucumbers are all potassium rich foods. However, should supplements become necessary, there are a few on the market that may take the form of capsules, effervescent, elixirs, granules, liquids, powders, solutions or tablets.
Various bodily functions such as diarrhea, gastrointestinal problems and vomiting can cause a depletion of potassium in the body as well as medical conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease. Medications such as cortisone, diuretics, laxatives and aspirin with prolonged use can also deplete potassium levels.
Potassium benefits include proper muscle and nerve function. This mineral assists in muscle contraction and helps send nerve impulses. It also releases energy from carbohydrates, fat and protein during metabolism. Lacking in potassium, or hypokalemia, may cause irregular heartbeat, mood changes, muscle weakness, or nausea and vomiting. Symptoms of this condition include an irregular heartbeat, lack of energy, muscle cramps and weakness. In this case, supplements can help treat this condition.
Potassium side effects from supplements commonly include abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. However, more severe symptoms such as abnormal heart rhythm and muscle weakness might also occur. If supplements are used, you need to be careful of not using too much as hyperkalemia, or an increased level of potassium may occur. This condition is potentially life-threatening, so much so that those with kidney failure should not take potassium supplements.
Should you decide supplements are right for you, there are many brands from which to choose from. However, be sure you have no allergies, medications or medical conditions that will not adversely interact with your supplementation and know how to take whatever supplement you have selected in the proper dosage. Consult a doctor before taking potassium supplements as too much can be harmful to your health.