Health Guide
Drug Guide

Potassium supplement (Oral route, parenteral route)

Brand Names:

Dosage Forms:

Uses of This Medicine:

Potassium is needed to maintain good health. Although a balanced diet usually supplies all the potassium a person needs, potassium supplements may be needed by patients who do not have enough potassium in their regular diet or have lost too much potassium because of illness or treatment with certain medicines.

There is no evidence that potassium supplements are useful in the treatment of high blood pressure.

Lack of potassium may cause muscle weakness, irregular heartbeat, mood changes, or nausea and vomiting.

Injectable potassium is administered only by or under the supervision of your doctor. Some forms of oral potassium may be available in stores without a prescription. Since too much potassium may cause health problems, you should take potassium supplements only if directed by your doctor.

For good health, it is important that you eat a balanced and varied diet. Follow carefully any diet program your health care professional may recommend. For your specific dietary vitamin and/or mineral needs, ask your health care professional for a list of appropriate foods.

The following table includes some potassium-rich foods.

Food (amount)Milligrams
of potassium
Milliequivalents
of potassium
Acorn squash, cooked
(1 cup)
89623
Potato with skin, baked
(1 long)
84422
Spinach, cooked
(1 cup)
83821
Lentils, cooked
(1 cup)
73119
Kidney beans, cooked
(1 cup)
71318
Split peas, cooked
(1 cup)
71018
White navy beans, cooked
(1 cup)
66917
Butternut squash, cooked
(1 cup)
58315
Watermelon
(1/16)
56014
Raisins
(½ cup)
55314
Yogurt, low-fat, plain
(1 cup)
53114
Orange juice, frozen
(1 cup)
50313
Brussel sprouts, cooked
(1 cup)
49413
Zucchini, cooked, sliced
(1 cup)
45612
Banana
(medium)
45112
Collards, frozen, cooked
(1 cup)
42711
Cantaloupe
(¼)
41211
Milk, low-fat 1%
(1 cup)
3489
Broccoli, frozen, cooked
(1 cup)
3329

The daily amount of potassium needed is defined in several different ways.

Because lack of potassium is rare, there is no RDA or RNI for this mineral. However, it is thought that 1600 to 2000 mg (40 to 50 milliequivalents [mEq]) per day for adults is adequate.

Remember:

Before Using This Medicine:

If you are taking a dietary supplement without a prescription, carefully read and follow any precautions on the label. For these supplements, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to medicines in this group or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Children

Although there is no specific information comparing use of potassium supplements in children with use in other age groups, they are not expected to cause different side effects or problems in children than they do in adults.

Older adults

Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults. Although there is no specific information comparing use of potassium supplements in the elderly with use in other age groups, they are not expected to cause different side effects or problems in older people than they do in younger adults.

Older adults may be at a greater risk of developing high blood levels of potassium (hyperkalemia).

Pregnancy

Potassium supplements have not been shown to cause problems in humans.

Breast-feeding

Potassium supplements pass into breast milk. However, this medicine has not been reported to cause problems in nursing babies.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking any of these dietary supplements, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using dietary supplements in this class with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with dietary supplements in this class or change some of the other medicines you take.

Using dietary supplements in this class with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Other interactions

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of dietary supplements in this class. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

Proper Use of This Medicine:

For patients taking the liquid form of this medicine:

For patients taking the soluble granule, soluble powder, or soluble tablet form of this medicine:

For patients taking the extended-release tablet form of this medicine:

For patients taking the extended-release capsule form of this medicine:

Take this medicine immediately after meals or with food to lessen possible stomach upset or laxative action.

Take this medicine only as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. This is especially important if you are also taking both diuretics (water pills) and digitalis medicines for your heart.

Dosing

The dose medicines in this class will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of these medicines. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

Storage

Keep out of the reach of children.

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Precautions While Using This Medicine:

Your doctor should check your progress at regular visits to make sure the medicine is working properly and that possible side effects are avoided. Laboratory tests may be necessary.

Do not use salt substitutes, eat low-sodium foods, especially some breads and canned foods, or drink low-sodium milk unless you are told to do so by your doctor, since these products may contain potassium. It is important to read the labels carefully on all low-sodium food products.

Check with your doctor before starting any physical exercise program, especially if you are out of condition and are taking any other medicine. Exercise and certain medicines may increase the amount of potassium in the blood.

Check with your doctor at once if you notice blackish stools or other signs of stomach or intestinal bleeding. This medicine may cause such a condition to become worse, especially when taken in tablet form.

Side Effects of This Medicine:

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Stop taking this medicine and check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

Less common
Confusion
irregular or slow heartbeat
numbness or tingling in hands, feet, or lips
shortness of breath or difficult breathing
unexplained anxiety
unusual tiredness or weakness
weakness or heaviness of legs

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

Rare
Abdominal or stomach pain, cramping, or soreness (continuing)
chest or throat pain, especially when swallowing
stools with signs of blood (red or black color)

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
Diarrhea
nausea
stomach pain, discomfort, or gas (mild)
vomiting

Sometimes you may see what appears to be a whole tablet in the stool after taking certain extended-release potassium chloride tablets. This is to be expected. Your body has absorbed the potassium from the tablet and the shell is then expelled.

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Last Updated: 10/12/2016

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