Food With Potassium Citrate

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What’s Food With Potassium Citrate ? Food With Potassium Citrate is an essential electrolyte that is found in every cell of the human body. Potassium is needed for heart function, muscle contraction and nerve function. Potassium also occurs naturally in foods and often in the form of potassium citrate. Prunes, avocados, beans and squash are all high potassium content foods. However, potassium citrate is also manufactured as an additive for use in food processing. It acts as a pH buffer, which contributes to its use as a preservative.

Food With Potassium Citrate

Preservation of food is something humans have had to do for generations. This is the way we prevent food from deteriorating due to microorganisms, light, heat or oxidation so that it lasts longer. In ancient times salt was the primary preserving agent. The process of smoking meat also originated from the need to prolong its storage time before it becomes harmful for human consumption.

In modern times we use preserving agents to fulfil the same role. Sulphite compounds, nitrates and certain acids and their salts are all used for various applications. Some preservatives are found naturally in the foods we eat, while others are manufactured and added during food processing.

Potassium also occurs naturally in foods and often in the form of potassium citrate. Prunes, avocados, beans and squash are all high potassium content foods. However, potassium citrate is also manufactured as an additive for use in food processing. It acts as a pH buffer, which contributes to its use as a preservative.

How potassium citrate is made

Citric acid is first produced using a fermentation process. After fermentation, further processing is required to separate unwanted by-products as well as purify the citric acid itself. Adding potassium hydroxide to citric acid results in the formation of potassium citrate crystals. These crystals are separated from the solution for use as a food additive.

Foods Containing Potassium Citrate

Because potassium citrate in food is produced in the presence of citric acid, it is most common in foods that contain this acid in abundance, the best sources being fruit. Pomegranate juice and orange juice are popular choices, both high in potassium based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as well as citric acid, making them excellent citrate natural sources.

Pomegranate juice contains 533 milligrams of potassium in a 1 cup serving. The most predominant acid in pomegranate juice is citric acid, the greatest influence on its sour taste.

One cup of pomegranate arils (the fruit, with flesh, juice and seed) contains:

  • Almost 3 grams of protein
  • Just over 2 grams of fat
  • 32.5 grams of carbohydrates
  • 7 grams of fiber and 23.8 grams of sugar

The bulk of the fiber and fat is present in the pomegranate seeds, while the vitamin and mineral content, along with the sugars come from the juice. One cup of pomegranate juice also has 27 milligrams of calcium and 0.25 milligrams of iron.

A September 2017 literature review in Nutrients found that, “A small number of human clinical trials have highlighted the positive effects of pomegranate juice and extract consumption on cardiovascular health.” The authors recommend further research in human trials on the role that pomegranate juice might play in lowering inflammation in the body.

All citrus fruits are sources of citric acid and many are also a good source of potassium. One cup of orange juice contains 496 milligrams of potassium, and as you may suspect, citric acid is the acid which naturally forms inside citrus fruits.

One cup of fresh orange juice also contains:

  • 1.74 grams of protein
  • 0.5 grams of fat
  • Just over 25 grams of carbohydrates
  • 0.5 grams of fiber and just over 20 grams of sugars
  • 27 milligrams of calcium and 0.5 milligrams of iron

A December 2014 study of dietary therapies for kidney stone prevention published in the Korean Journal of Urology found that lemon, lime, orange and melon had the greatest concentration of citrate for use as a dietary intervention against hypocitraturia, abnormally low citrate excretion.

“Consuming fruit juice prevents stone formation not only because it increases urine volume but also because it is high in potassium and citric acid,” the report states. “Citrate prevents stone formation by two mechanisms. First, it binds with urinary calcium, thereby reducing the supersaturation of urine. In addition, it binds calcium oxalate crystals and prevents crystal growth.”

One cup of unsweetened passion fruit juice contains a whopping 687 milligrams of potassium. It is another one of the citrate natural sources. While purple passion fruits are sweeter, yellow passion fruits are high in citric acid, and it shows in their sour taste.

Yellow passion fruits contain more than four times as much citric acid as purple, according to a lecture by Prof. Robert J. Lancashire in the Department of Chemistry at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, so it is an even better option for people seeking citrate natural sources.

One cup of unsweetened yellow passion fruit juice also contains:

  • 1.65 grams of protein
  • less than half a gram of fat
  • 35.69 grams of carbohydrates, almost all of which is sugar
  • 0.5 grams of dietary fiber
  • 10 milligrams of calcium and 0.89 milligrams of iron

What Is Potassium?

Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage, and Interactions

Table of Contents

  • Uses of Potassium
  • Potassium Deficiency
  • Side Effects
  • Precautions
  • Dosage
  • Toxicity
  • Interactions
  • Storage

Potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte that plays a critical role in many body functions. For example, potassium is required to regulate your heartbeat and blood pressure, proper nerve conduction, protein synthesis, glycogen levels (a storage form of glucose), and muscle contraction.

Potassium is found naturally in most fruits, vegetables, legumes, and seeds. In healthy individuals with normal kidney function, abnormally low or high blood levels of potassium are rare.

This article describes the most common reasons people take potassium supplements, the recommended daily amounts, and the possible side effects.  

Dietary supplements are not regulated in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement that has been tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLabs, or NSF.

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily safe for everyone or effective in general. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and to check in about any potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredient(s): Potassium chloride, citrate, phosphate, aspartate, bicarbonate, or gluconate
  • Alternate name(s): Potassium salt, potassium chloride salt
  • Legal status: Available over the counter (OTC)
  • Suggested dose: 99 milligrams (mg)
  • Safety considerations: High doses may cause gastrointestinal side effects, kidney damage, and small bowel lesions, and may interact with medications including ACE inhibitors and potassium-sparing, loop, and thiazide diuretics
Health benefits of potassium
Verywell / JR Bee 

Uses of Potassium

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or doctor. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease. 

Some studies suggest that higher intakes of potassium may reduce the risk of diseases like high blood pressure and stroke, osteoporosis, kidney stones, and diabetes. Some of these claims are better supported by research than others.

Blood Pressure and Stroke

Because of potassium’s relationship to sodium, which regulates fluid and plasma volume, some research has focused on its ability to lower blood pressure and stroke risk.

In an older but memorable 2006 clinical trial, Dietary Approaches to Reduce Hypertension (DASH), published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers evaluated whether a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, and reduced saturated and total fat could lower blood pressure.1

Many people came to call it “the DASH diet,” an eating pattern that is higher in potassium and lower in sodium. Researchers fed participants a controlled diet for three weeks. Then they randomized people into a standard American diet (control), a fruit and vegetable diet, or a combination diet (the DASH diet) for eight weeks.

Those on the DASH diet lowered their systolic blood pressure (pressure when blood is ejected into arteries) by an average of 5.5 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (pressure in arteries between beats) by 3.0 mmHg.

More recently, a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Cardiology evaluated the effect of potassium supplements on hypertension (high blood pressure).2 The systematic review and meta-analysis found that potassium supplementation decreased systolic blood pressure by 4.48 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 2.96 mmHg.

In addition, a 2013 review in the British Medical Journal evaluated whether increased potassium intake could affect heart disease risk factors and disease, including stroke.3 Researchers looked at 22 randomized controlled trials and 11 cohort studies. In addition to reduced blood pressure, researchers found that increased potassium intake was associated with a lower risk of stroke, with higher intakes reducing stroke risk by 24%.

FDA-Approved Claim

The FDA has approved the following health claim relating to potassium: “Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.”

Bone Density

Since potassium is alkaline (meaning it neutralizes acids), some scientists have evaluated whether consumption of potassium-rich foods and supplements could reduce the net acid content in a person’s diet and preserve calcium in bones.

However, research on this subject is mixed. An older 2008 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition measured the effects of potassium citrate supplementation and increased fruit and vegetable consumption in 276 postmenopausal people. It found that after two years of potassium citrate supplementation, bone turnover was not reduced, and there was no increase in bone mineral density.

By contrast, a more recent 2018 study published in Nutrients evaluated whether potassium could decrease bone loss in women with osteopenia (low bone density). The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study included 310 postmenopausal participants.

It found that potassium citrate supplementation improved the beneficial effects of calcium and vitamin D in osteopenic women with a potassium deficit. This study suggests that potassium’s ability to increase bone mineral density may rely on the intake of calcium and vitamin D, nutrients essential for bone health. However, more research is needed to confirm or disprove this relationship.

Kidney Stones

Abnormally high urinary calcium (hypercalciuria) increases the risk of developing kidney stones. In addition, diets that are high in protein and low in potassium may contribute to increased stone formation. Therefore, some studies have examined whether potassium could reduce kidney stone risk.

In a 2016 study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, researchers examined the relationship between protein and potassium intake on kidney stones. They found that higher dietary potassium was associated with a statistically significant and considerable reduction in kidney stone risk in all groups. They also found that the type of protein consumed may also affect kidney stone risk—specifically, vegetable protein reduced risk compared to animal protein.

In addition, a 2015 review in Cochrane evaluated the role of citrate salts (such as potassium citrate) in preventing and containing calcium-containing kidney stones. In seven studies with 477 participants, researchers found that citrate significantly reduced stone size compared to placebo or no intervention. In addition, new stone formation was significantly lower in the citrate group than in the control group.

Blood Glucose and Diabetes

Since potassium is needed for insulin secretion from the pancreas, some research has focused on its relationship to glucose (blood sugar) levels and diabetes.

For example, a 2015 study evaluated the impact of potassium on glucose levels in older adults. Researchers found a significant association between lower dietary potassium intake, reduced insulin sensitivity, and increases in insulin secretion.

Similarly, a 2016 clinical trial evaluated potassium levels with glucose and diabetes risk over eight years. Researchers found that compared to those with higher potassium levels (≥4.5mmol/L), those with lower levels (<4.0mmol/L) had significantly higher fasting glucose.

In addition, researchers found an inverse association between serum and dietary potassium and diabetes risk.

Potassium Deficiency

Some people may develop a potassium deficiency when intakes are lower over time than recommended levels, they have a specific risk factor for lower than normal levels, or there is a particular reason they are unable to digest or absorb potassium.

What Causes a Potassium Deficiency?

Intakes that are less than the recommended amounts may result in potassium deficiency. When intakes are lower than your body needs, it can lead to health complications, including increased blood pressure and the risk of developing kidney stones.

In addition to low dietary intakes, some other things may contribute to potassium deficiency, including:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Diuretic use
  • Laxative overuse
  • Pica (eating non-nutritive substances, like clay)
  • Heavy sweating
  • Dialysis (a medical procedure to cycle blood when kidneys can not)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Some people are more at risk of developing a potassium deficiency, including:5

  • Those with i
  • Those who take diuretics or laxatives
  • People with pica

How Do I Know If I Have a Potassium Deficiency?

You may not even know if you have a mild potassium deficiency. However, more severe deficiency can result in hypokalemia, when blood serum levels fall below 3.6 mmol/L. Mild hypokalemia may produce symptoms such as:

  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Malaise (overall feeling unwell)

More serious hypokalemia may produce the following symptoms:

  • Polyuria (excessive urination)
  • Encephalopathy (disease affecting brain function) in people with kidney disease
  • Glucose intolerance
  • Muscular paralysis
  • Poor respiration
  • Cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)

Severe hypokalemia is life-threatening due to its effect on the heart and breathing. Fortunately, severe cases rarely occur because of inadequate potassium intake alone. However, if you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to have them evaluated.

An Overview of Hyperkalemia

What Are the Side Effects of Potassium?

Your provider may recommend you take potassium for deficiency or to lower your risk of some health conditions, like kidney stones. However, consuming a supplement like potassium may have potential side effects. These side effects may be common or severe. 

If you’re increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, you will be increasing your intake of potassium and fiber. When increasing fiber, it’s essential to do so slowly and gradually to prevent gas and bloating. In addition, make sure to drink adequate amounts of fluids. Neglecting to hydrate appropriately can result in constipation.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects of potassium supplementation include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain or discomfort or mild gas
  • Vomiting

Severe Side Effects

More rarely, potassium supplements can result in severe side effects. These most often occur in people who have high intakes and impaired kidney function or who take certain medications like ACE inhibitors and potassium-sparing diuretics.

Severe side effects include:

  • Confusion
  • Cold, pale, or gray skin
  • Stomach pain or bulging
  • Black stools
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
  • Unexplained anxiety
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Weakness or heaviness in the legs

Call your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you experience severe side effects.

Precautions

People with certain health conditions or taking some medications are at greater risk of severe side effects and drug interactions from potassium. This includes individuals with abnormal kidney function and those on potassium-sparing medications or ACE inhibitors, typically used for treating high blood pressure. A complete list of medication interactions is included below.

Dosage: How Much Potassium Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the ingredients and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recommends the following adequate intakes (AIs) for potassium:

  • 400 mg (infants through 6 months)
  • 860 mg/day (infants 7-12 months)
  • 2,000 mg/day (1-3 years)
  • 2,300 mg/day (4-8 years)
  • 2,500 mg/day (males 9-13 years)
  • 2,300 mg/day (females 9-13 years)
  • 3,000 mg/day (males 14-18 years)
  • 2,300 mg/day (females 14-18 years)
  • 3,400 mg/day (males 19+ years)
  • 2,600 mg/day (females 19+ years)
  • 2,600 (under 18) or 2,900 (18+ years) during pregnancy
  • 2,500 (under 18) or 2,800 (18+ years) during lactation

What Happens If I Take Too Much Potassium?

To avoid toxicity, be aware of the appropriate dosage (above). NASEM has not established an upper limit for potassium. However, people with impaired urinary potassium excretion due to health conditions like kidney disease or certain medications should be aware of potassium supplementation’s potential toxicity.

If you fall into these categories and consume more potassium than your healthcare provider recommends, you may want to seek medical attention. In addition, if you notice any of the severe side effects (above), seek emergency medical care.

Interactions

Some medications can interact with potassium supplements. These include:

  • ACE inhibitors
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)
  • Potassium-sparing diuretics, such as Midamor (amiloride) and Aldactone (spironolactone)
  • Loop diuretics, such as Lasix (furosemide) and Bumex (bumetanide)
  • Thiazide diuretics, such as Diuril (chlorothiazide) and Zaroxolyn (metolazone)

These medications can impact potassium in dangerous ways. Therefore, experts recommend monitoring potassium levels in people who take these drugs.

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients are included and in what amounts. In addition, please review the supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications. 

How To Store Potassium

Store fresh fruits and vegetables using best practices for maximizing their freshness. Storage guidelines differ depending on the fruit or vegetable. For example, some should be refrigerated while others, such as tomatoes, should be left at room temperature.

Store potassium supplements in a cool, dry place. Keep potassium away from direct sunlight. Discard after one year or as indicated on the packaging.

How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

Understanding the heart-healthy benefits of potassium

Foods that are rich in potassium are important in managing high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) because potassium lessens the effects of sodium. The more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine. Potassium also helps to ease tension in your blood vessel walls, which helps further lower blood pressure.

Increasing potassium through diet is recommended in adults with blood pressure above 120/80 who are otherwise healthy. Potassium can be harmful in patients with kidney disease, any condition that affects how the body handles potassium, or those who take certain medications. The decision of whether to take excess potassium should be discussed with your doctor. 

Potassium and your diet

The recommended potassium intake for an average adult is 4,700 milligrams (mg) per day.

Many of the elements of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet — fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) dairy foods and fish — are good natural sources of potassium. For example, a medium banana has about 420 mg of potassium and half a cup of plain mashed sweet potatoes has 475 mg.

Other potassium-rich foods include:

  • Apricots and apricot juice
  • Avocados
  • Cantaloupe and honeydew melon
  • Fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk
  • Fat-free yogurt
  • Grapefruit and grapefruit juice (talk to your healthcare provider if you’re taking a cholesterol-lowering drug)
  • Greens
  • Halibut
  • Lima beans
  • Molasses 
  • Mushrooms
  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Prunes and prune juice
  • Raisins and dates
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes, tomato juice and tomato sauce
  • Tuna
picnic with grandpa and his grandkids

Potassium is only one component of a well-rounded plan for blood pressure health

Even though potassium can lessen the blood pressure-raising effects of sodium, eating more potassium should be combined with your efforts to break up with that excess salt and develop other healthy eating and lifestyle habits.

Is it possible to have too much potassium?

Too much potassium can be harmful in people with kidney disorders. As kidneys become less able to remove potassium from your blood, too much potassium may build up.

Often, like high blood pressure, there aren’t many symptoms of high potassium (hyperkalemia). Feeling sick to your stomach, a low, weak or irregular pulse and fainting may occur with high levels of potassium.

Consult with a healthcare professional before taking any over-the-counter potassium supplement. You should also ask your doctor before trying salt substitutes, which can raise potassium in people with certain health conditions and those taking ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure.

What is potassium citrate?

Potassium citrate is a mineral that is used to treat kidney stones.

Potassium citrate may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Warnings

Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use potassium citrate if you have:

  • high levels of potassium in your blood (hyperkalemia);
  • kidney failure;
  • a bladder or kidney infection;
  • untreated or uncontrolled diabetes;
  • an adrenal gland disorder;
  • a blockage in your intestines;
  • problems with your esophagus, stomach, or intestines that affect swallowing or digestion;
  • a peptic ulcer in your stomach;
  • wasting syndrome;
  • a large tissue injury (such as a severe burn);
  • if you are dehydrated or malnourished; or
  • if you take a “potassium-sparing” diuretic (amiloride, eplerenone, spironolactone, or triamterene).

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • kidney problems other than kidney stones;
  • too much acid in your body (acidosis);
  • a stomach ulcer;
  • heart problems; or
  • chronic diarrhea (such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease).

It is not known whether potassium citrate will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

It may not be safe to breastfeed while using this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risk.

Potassium citrate is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.

How should I take potassium citrate?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Take with a meal or bedtime snack, or within 30 minutes after a meal.

Swallow the tablet whole and do not crush, chew, break, or suck on it.

The tablet may irritate your mouth or throat. Tell your doctor if it feels like the tablet gets stuck in your throat when you swallow it.

You may need to follow a special diet while using potassium citrate. Follow all instructions of your doctor or dietitian. Learn about the foods to eat or avoid to help control your condition.

You will need frequent urine and blood tests. Your heart function may need to be checked using an electrocardiograph or ECG (sometimes called an EKG).

Limit your salt intake and drink plenty of fluids while taking potassium citrate.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking potassium citrate?

Do not use potassium supplements or salt substitutes, unless your doctor has told you to.

Avoid strenuous exercise if you are not in proper condition for it.

Potassium citrate side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Potassium citrate may cause serious side effects. Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe vomiting or stomach pain;
  • high blood potassium–nausea, weakness, tingly feeling, chest pain, irregular heartbeats, loss of movement; or
  • signs of stomach bleeding–bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds.

Common side effects of potassium citrate may include:

  • upset stomach, nausea, vomiting; or
  • diarrhea.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Potassium citrate side effects (more detail)

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