The Health Benefits of Potassium Bicarbonate

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Your cells, tissues and organs need potassium to function optimally. Potassium is an electrolyte, a substance that conducts electrical impulses in your body. It is crucial for healthy muscular and digestive function. Your heart requires the presence of potassium for its activity. Potassium also comes in different salt forms, such as potassium bicarbonate, and offers notable health benefits. You should talk to your doctor before you begin using potassium bicarbonate supplements, as they may cause side effects.

Alleviates Hypokalemia Symptoms

Potassium bicarbonate helps treat the symptoms of hypokalemia, or low potassium. If you develop hypokalemia, you may experience symptoms such as poor energy levels, weakness, an irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps, stomach upset and an abnormal electrocardiogram -- a medical test that detects your heart’s function. Hypokalemia occurs when your body starts losing too much potassium in the urine or intestines. The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that this condition is rarely caused by a lack of potassium in the diet. Hypokalemia can be hazardous and should be treated by your doctor.

Improves Cardiovascular Health

According to a study published in the journal “Hypertension" in January 2010, supplementation with potassium bicarbonate significantly improved endothelial function, reduced stiffness of large elastic arteries, enhanced left ventricular diastolic function and decreased left ventricular mass. Left ventricular mass is a strong predictor of cardiovascular risk. Increased left ventricular mass is associated with increased risk of sudden death from cardiovascular disease, disclosed a study published in the November 1998 issue of "Journal of the American College of Cardiology."

Treats Inflammatory Bowel Disease

If you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, you may experience trouble in absorbing nutrients from your intestine. You may also have low levels of potassium as well as other important nutrients. To treat this condition, your doctor may test your potassium levels and prescribe a potassium supplement such as potassium bicarbonate.

Improves Bone Health

Potassium bicarbonate supplements may help improve your bone health. In a study published in the June 1994 issue of “The New England Journal of Medicine,” treatment with potassium bicarbonate reduced bone resorption, increased bone formation rate and improved phosphorus and calcium balance in postmenopausal women.

Important Considerations

Potassium bicarbonate can interact with certain medications such as potassium-sparing diuretics, indomethacin, angiotensin receptor blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, raising your risk for hyperkalemia, or high potassium -- so take it only after consulting your doctor. Medications such as heparin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, beta-blockers and cyclosporine may increase potassium levels when taken together with potassium bicarbonate. On the other hand, concomitant use of medications, such as thiazide diuretics, antacids, corticosteroids and fluconazole, with the supplement may reduce potassium levels. Therefore, if you are taking any of these medications, ask your doctor whether you need potassium supplements.