Q. You could have usually written about the advantages of potassium, but you advise in opposition to potassium dietary supplements. Why?
A. Whereas there’s little question food regimen wealthy in potassium supplies cardiovascular advantages (notably for blood stress management and stroke prevention), that might not be true of dietary supplements—which may really be harmful for many individuals.
Excessive-potassium meals—greens and fruits, together with beans, dairy merchandise, fish, and nuts—comprise many vitamins and different compounds that assist account for the well being advantages. One other plus for blood stress is the truth that these meals additionally are typically low in sodium.
So it’s exhausting to say how a lot the advantages come from the potassium itself. Largely, the mineral could merely be a marker for a nutritious diet. Which may be why research testing the impact of potassium dietary supplements on blood stress, for example, have had inconsistent or unclear outcomes.
Blood ranges of potassium are tightly regulated by the physique, principally by the kidneys. However when the kidneys aren’t working correctly, potassium can rise to excessive ranges and trigger harmful coronary heart rhythm issues and even cardiac arrest.
Thus, individuals who have impaired kidney perform (which incorporates numerous older individuals, a lot of whom are unaware of it) in addition to these with diabetes, coronary heart failure, or sure different situations ought to keep away from supplemental potassium. So, too, ought to anybody taking anti-hypertension medication that may enhance potassium retention (resembling ACE inhibitors and potassium-sparing diuretics) and even ache relievers resembling aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. Excessive-dose potassium dietary supplements and high-potassium salt substitutes pose the best danger for these teams.
To be cautious, the Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) limits over-the-counter potassium dietary supplements (together with multivitamin/mineral drugs) to lower than 100 milligrams, simply 2 p.c of the advisable four,700 milligrams a day. Prolonged-release potassium tablets (600 or 750 milligrams), accessible solely by prescription, are given primarily to individuals who take medicine that depletes potassium from the physique, resembling sure diuretics.
Backside line: Most Individuals devour far too little potassium (and much an excessive amount of sodium), however they need to get it from meals, not drugs, except their medical doctors have prescribed the dietary supplements. Among the many greatest sources of potassium are potatoes, bananas, spinach, avocados, yogurt, orange juice, Brussels sprouts and white or lima beans