T Nation

Is Potassium My Enemy?

Is potassium supplementation a good thing, bad thing or just a waste of time? I have heard somewhere in passing that supplementing potassium can throw off the sodium potassium ratio in your body in a bad way.

I think that unless you had some existing health issues, you’d be hard done by to get these two out of whack, unless you were gravely dehydrated.

Why are you considering supplementing potassium? Instead of a supp, why don’t you try bananas and kiwi? Kiwi fruit has a ton of potassium!

[quote]HunterKiller wrote:
Is potassium supplementation a good thing, bad thing or just a waste of time? I have heard somewhere in passing that supplementing potassium can throw off the sodium potassium ratio in your body in a bad way.[/quote]

Sure it could be a bad thing if you were to take supraphysiological levels of it! Supplemental potassium, along with some other vitamin and minerals are capable of causing toxicity where it is next to impossible to do with food even when the same amount is consumed - you aren’t going to get sick eating 4 bananas a day, but taking 20 Potassium tablets, the amount needed to equal 4 bananas could even though you’d still be under the RDA! Taking too much potassium can result in an upset stomach, flatulence, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and burping. An excessive amount of potassium can result in a heart attack due to the sodium/potassium ratio be thrown off majorily. The thing to think about though is that most everyone is deficient in potassium and could do well to eat more if it! Add a banana, almost any fruit or vegetable, beans, fish, etc. and skip the supplement.

Here’s a break down of 1 serving of a food vs. how many potassium pills (based on 99gm) you would have to take to get the same amount (also it’s amusing what foods are highest):

Banana, 1 - 5 pills
Kiwi, 1 - 2 pills
Orange, 1 - 3 pills
Tuna, 1 can - 5 pills
Steak, 4oz - 3 pills
Milk, 8oz - 4 pills
Nuts, 1/4 cup - 4 pills
Lima Beans, 1 cup - 10 pills
Potatoes, 1 - 15 pills
Your highest sources are Beans, Greens and Potatoes (french fries don’t count as the high-heat frying removes most of it!)

Daily Recommended Potassium ( K): 3,500 mg . . . Too much: 18,000 mg
Daily Recommended Sodium . . (Na): 1,000 mg . . . Too much: 2,400 mg

I think everyone here already covered it pretty well. you’d literally have to be constantly ingesting potassium for it throw anything off neurologically. Your body has SOOO much more sodium in it than potassium that you would almost have to be trying to throw off the balance in order to do it.

Don’t avocadoes have a lot of K?

Thanks guys, Im only taking a 250mg pill a day.

[quote]Weakling 8 wrote:
Don’t avocadoes have a lot of K?[/quote]

Yes, one Avovado has about 1600mg of Potassium