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What type of potassium supplement
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What type of potassium supplement

My wife and I have a low potassium diet and need to supplement with 1.5g  to 2.5g per day
depending on how active we are and how much milk we drink for added protein.

We are getting a lot of contradictory info about potassium supplementation products.
We have been told by a PA and MD that that we are wasting our time taking OTC potassium gluconate because it is not being absorbed.  Online comments often repeat the same message.  

However the technical med literature I read says that 90% of both dietary and supplemental forms of potassium are absorbed by the intestines.

It also seems to make clear that the type of potassium salt you are taking (chloride, citrate, gluconate, acetate, bicarbonate, etc) does not matter.  The only thing that counts is the amount of actual (elemental) potassium you are ingesting.  For instance we take 595mg tablets of potassium gluconate containing 99mg of elemental potassium.

This means that if I am willing to take 20 of these cheap little pills a day to get my 2000mg (2g) of potassium that is just fine.  I don’t need to buy relatively expensive potassium chloride.

Is this true?
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Avatar_m_tn
Every mineral has to be chelated for it to be absorbed.  Some chelations are better for some people.  It's hard to believe that any supplement has 90% absorption.  What I do wonder about is the amount of potassium you're supplementing, and why the milk?  Milk is high in calcium but deficient in magnesium.  Like potassium, magnesium and calcium are electrolytes, all of which must be in proper balance for the body to function properly.  Dairy is also very hard for most humans to utilize, as most of us lack the enzyme to digest it or are intolerant of it or are allergic to it.  Have you though of seeing a holistic nutritionist?
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Avatar_m_tn
The 90% is from the medical literature.
As I said we have a low potassium diet
We use the IOM (Institute of Medicine) guidelines for supplemenatation.  The RDA is usually understated and the holistic/homeopathic and supplementation industry tend to overstate daily requirements.
We drink the skim milk as a protein in our diet and tolerate it well.  
The true facts about tolerance are that a great many people can.  It depends on you family genetics based on where they came from in the world.
We also supplement calcium and magnesium as required.
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Avatar_m_tn
Never let it be said I would tell anyone what to do.  Medical literature is not reliable on these matters, however, as it comes from the food industry.  Very few unbiased studies.  No mammal but humans drinks milk after weaning, and people drank very little milk until the federal government created the Dairy Milk Marketing Board to stimulate dairy consumption at the beginning of the 20th century -- you know, all those milk mustache commercials.  Yeah, that's your federal government at work, not reality.  But you do what you please, it's a free country, sort of.
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Avatar_m_tn
And also, keep in mind only two ethnic groups have been found to have lactase, some Scandanavians and one tribe in India.  But in the US there's been so much mixing of ethnicities it's doubtful there are many who still have tribal purity.  Also, even in those places, people don't drink much milk, they take most of their dairy in the form of yogurt or cheese, which are cultured and therefore more digestible.  The other thing about dairy is, most people don't drink cow's milk, they use largely cultured or fermented goat's milk or sheep's milk or camel's milk or yak's milk and so on.  This is because cows have a very weird digestive system, totally unlike that of humans.  But again, I defer to you -- you know your body more than I do.  I was really more interested in the why of a low potassium diet if you were just going to supplement with it.  Some of the healthiest foods have potassium in them, so few people have the need to supplement that particular mineral.  I was just curious, since it's obviously not the potassium you're avoiding as you're supplementing it.  Just curious.  Also, I managed health food stores for many many years, and I don't remember any representative of a vitamin company, and they'd be the most likely to do so, claiming 90% absorption of anything.  That's just wildly high.  It's unlikely we get that much from food, let alone a supplement in forms not found in food and wrapped in strange wrappers.  Just defies common sense.  And the reason most vitamins are much higher than RDA is because they recognize, first, that most people won't absorb that much, and, second, they're aiming for a higher amount.  Anyone who just needs RDA can get that from food and don't need a supplement.
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Avatar_m_tn
Shoot, I just can't seem to finish this thought.  Whew!  RDA is also just the amount needed to avoid deficiency diseases.  So yeah, if you get he RDA of vitamin C you won't get scurvy, but most people take it for a host of things.  That might not be beneficial, I'm not chiming in on that, but that's another reason most vitamins exceed RDA.
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Avatar_m_tn
We have a low potassium intake because we watch our weight -- very careful control of portion sizes.  We are very active.  We live in the middle of nowhere on a limited income.  Don't have access and or can't afford high end expensive items.  We don't eat potatoes or other carbs with high potassium, etc...

You realy need to review the data on milk tolerance -- it is not as bad as it seems.

You also need to spend some time with the IOM nutrient study and recommendations.

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Avatar_m_tn
No, I really don't.  I mean, this is what I did for a living, so you know, you like
conventional medicine and trust it and I don't.   You go your way, I'll go mine.  Ta ta.  
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Avatar_m_tn
Actually we don't trust either -- that's why we educate ourselves.

You know you never did answer the original question....
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Avatar_m_tn
No, I did.  I suggested you see a holistic nutritionist.  I said different people absorb different chelations differently.  That means it's impossible for anyone to tell you which is best for you, just which is best for the general population.  You disagreed, indicating you already had the answer, which is fine.  I certainly don't have all the answers.  The reason I suggested a holistic nutritionist as opposed to other nutritionists is that they do more sophisticated testing and have a broader education -- the same as regular nutrtionists, but then more because they're more curious.  But I also suggested that because, as I tried to find out in my questions, any diet that is short one of the most essential nutrients that also keeps other essential nutrients in their proper electrical balance is not a diet I understand.  Given that, your question can't be answered by anyone but a professional who would assess the healthfulness of your diet plan.  My opinion is that any diet lacking essential nutrients isn't a good one, but as I said I wouldn't presume to tell you how to run your life.  I guess this is a long way of saying, I tried to help but needed more info, and when I got it realized you already knew everything you were asking to your own satisfaction when you said all forms are absorbed 90%.  Now, I don't believe that for a minute, but you do, and therefore your answer is that it doesn't matter which form you take since they're all equally well absorbed.
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Avatar_m_tn
No -- below is a copy of the main question and an added clarification ---

""It also seems to make clear that the type of potassium salt you are taking (chloride, citrate, gluconate, acetate, bicarbonate, etc) does not matter.  The only thing that counts is the amount of actual (elemental) potassium you are ingesting.  For instance we take 595mg tablets of potassium gluconate containing 99mg of elemental potassium.

This means that if I am willing to take 20 of these cheap little pills a day to get my 2000mg (2g) of potassium that is just fine.  I don’t need to buy relatively expensive potassium chloride.""

In other words the amount of elemental potassium, that could POSSIBLY be absorbed, from 1ea potassium chloride tablet which is about 52% potassium is equal 3ea potassium gluconate which are about 17% potassium each.
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Avatar_m_tn
But see, here's why your question is above my paygrade (which is none).  I wish someone else had chimed in, but nobody has.  Here's my difficulty, and why I think anyone would have difficulty -- you're trying to supplement a large dose of potassium when it's plentiful in a range of very healthful foods.  It's not a mineral that's usually deficient, it's usually in surplus.  When I managed health food stores, which I did for 18 years, we never carried more than 1 or 2 potassium supplements because so few people took them, whereas we carried dozens of different chelations of calcium and magnesium, for example.  And the part I can't understand is, if you're avoiding potassium because you think it causes weight gain, why would you then take a huge dose of it in supplement form?  It makes no sense, since, again, there's a wide range of foods that contain it.  I assume you're avoiding potassium for some reason, but you're just trying to add it back in supplement form.  Supplements are supposed to supplement your diet, not replace it.  And food is much better absorbed than supplements.  If you're taking tablets, for example, all tablets are difficult for the body to break down, so a portion of the supplement will end up in the toilet.  Liquid is better, but the longer it's exposed to light the more it oxidizes since there's nothing like a capsule or tablet to protect it, plus good liquid supplements tend to be expensive.  So while you see this as a mathematical equivalence question, I see it as a paradox, and so as much as I'd like to be able to say, hey, this will be just as well absorbed as that so your equivalence is x, that just isn't the case.  You will not absorb every chelation equally no matter what you read -- your body isn't mine, we will not get the same results, and if you measure the amounts of supplemented nutrients in the body after ingestion you will not find anywhere near 90% absorption.  Those tests you're speaking of usually do it in vinegar on a table top, not in the environment that exists in your stomach and intestines, which of course is different at different times of the day and isn't the same from person to person.  Perhaps you could try asking the dietitian on the nutrition expert forum -- she'll look at your question in a much less complicated way than I'm capable of after years of speaking about such things with the people who manufacture vitamins and with alternative health professionals who focus much more on nutrition than the allopathic community does.  I'm sorry I'm not able to help -- I did give it my best shot.  I will tell you there's a company called Country Life that makes what it calls Target Mins -- these are minerals with three or four different chelations in them so you're bound to be able to absorb some of it.  You won't, unfortunately, be able to tell how much, but by your reckoning, since again you say all potassium is equivalent to any other potassium, you just want the most for the cheapest, their supplements tend to be pretty cheap on the internet.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for your help
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1180136_tn?1264814491
I came across this question while surfing some forums other than the one I usually post to.  I have to take a medication that deletes potassium from my body so I have to make sure I add it back in with other foods.  I'd rather put something healthy into my body that tastes good than take a pill.  Who wouldn't rather drink orange juice or eat raisons plus a host of other good things.  I don't have to "watch" my weight, or check portion sizes.  When you eat the right things your body will automatically, over time, become the right weight for your size and bone structure.  The phrase, " You are what you eat." is very true.
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