Everyone requires an adequate amount of potassium because it stimulates important bodily functions including fluid balance, protein synthesis, energy production and, perhaps most importantly, it controls the heartbeat.
But when it comes to potassium levels there can be too much of a good thing. Having too much potassium in the blood is called hyperkalemia. Fortunately certain supplements can help counteract excessive levels of potassium.
Benefits of Potassium
Potassium is both a mineral and an electrolyte and is vital for the normal day-to-day functioning of the body’s heart, muscles and nerves. Potassium works to maintain the amount of water and the electrolyte balance in the body. Potassium also plays an important part in how nerves and muscles work.
Who Is at Risk for Hyperkalemia?
As our bodies age, our kidneys become less proficient at flushing out potassium. Hyperkalemia is diagnosed in as many as 8 percent of patients hospitalized in the U.S. Extremely high levels of potassium can result in heart attack and death. Severe hyperkalemia when left untreated has a mortality rate approaching 70 percent (reference 2).
Patients with hyperkalemia usually display few if any symptoms. They may sometimes complain of nausea, muscle weakness or tingling sensations.
Supplements to Lower Potassium Levels
There are at least two supplements that can help lower high potassium levels and keep the threat of hyperkalemia at bay. Calcium effectively reduces potassium concentration in the body. If you are not getting the daily recommended amount of calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, you may want to consider calcium supplements.
Taking daily garlic supplements is another means by which to reduce high potassium levels.
Some diuretics, commonly referred to as water pills, help reduce the amount of water in the body and can rid the body of excess potassium levels. It also helps to limit your caffeine consumption.
In addition to supplements, a few changes in your diet can also help to lower your daily potassium intake. When cooking, be sure to use herbs, seasonings and spices that are free of potassium, and avoid salt substitutes The list of fruits and vegetables that are very high in potassium include apricots, avocados, cantaloupe, baked potatoes, French fries, potato chips and tomato paste.
The daily recommended allowance for potassium is 4,000 milligrams per day (4 grams). A low potassium diet should not exceed 3,000 milligrams (3 grams) per day.