Potassium is a mineral concerned with the transmission of nerve signals, regulation of blood pressure and heartbeat, digestion, and muscle contraction. The excessive intake of its supplements can cause several side effects, such as an upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
A deficiency of potassium can adversely affect the vital functions of the body, as it is one of the most important minerals and electrolytes. It is concerned with the transmission of nerve signals, regulation of blood pressure and heartbeat, digestion, and muscle contraction. Along with sodium, it helps maintain water balance inside the cells. A diet rich in potassium can usually provide the required amount of this mineral. But sometimes, one may need supplements to maintain the correct level of potassium in the body.
The supplements of this mineral can be found in the form of tablets, powder, and also as a liquid. They are mainly used to correct a deficiency of this important mineral. A deficiency of potassium can cause several health problems, including muscle cramps, weakness, irregular heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, mood swings, and stomach problems.
The medical term for an abnormally low level of potassium in blood is ‘hypokalemia’, and supplements are basically used to treat this condition. Hypokalemia rarely results from the insufficient dietary intake of potassium. Instead, it can be associated with conditions, like diarrhea, vomiting, kidney diseases, and the excessive use of laxatives, diuretics, aspirin, and cortisone.
Dangers of Potassium Supplements
An abnormally high level of potassium is not good for health. An elevated level of potassium in blood is termed as hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia can lead to some serious health complications, if it is left untreated. Therefore, supplements of potassium should be taken with adequate care, and under the supervision of a health care provider or physician. The excessive intake of these supplements can cause gastrointestinal problems, like diarrhea, an upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting.
A significantly high level of potassium can also cause side effects, like muscle weakness, abnormal heart rhythm, generalized weakness, slow heart rate, tingling of the hands and feet, and anxiety. Apart from these, confusion, shortness of breath, abdominal pain and cramps, irregular heart rhythm, dizziness, listlessness, chest pain or pain in the throat while swallowing, low blood pressure, and red or black stool can be some other rare side effects of these supplements. On observing any of these side effects, be sure to inform your physician as soon as possible.
Potassium supplements should not be used by individuals with kidney diseases and heart problems without consulting their physicians. Even people having digestive disorders should avoid the supplements of potassium, or talk to their physicians before taking them. Digestive disorders can affect the elimination of excess potassium from the body, which can be dangerous. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also consult their health care provider before using these supplements. The supplements of potassium can interact with certain medications.
Many of the side effects associated with potassium supplements can be avoided by taking these supplements with adequate care and in the appropriate dosage, as prescribed by the physician.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.