In concentrated doses, potassium citrate can damage the lining of your stomach and cause other serious health issues. Overdosing on potassium citrate supplements or failing to follow your pharmacist's instructions regarding potassium citrate pills can be very bad for you. When it comes to the small amount of potassium citrate that's added to food, however, there's not a lot of danger. In fact, it's recommended that you consume at least 3.5 grams of potassium citrate and other potassium salts each day in order to keep your body healthy.
A Medical Marvel
Potassium citrate is highly effective at treating a number of medical conditions. In concentrated forms, it can damage your digestive tract, so it's usually either diluted with liquid or administered via a time-release capsule. As long as you follow the directions given to you by your doctor or pharmacist, it's a reasonably safe medicine.
Potassium citrate is alkaline. This means that it helps your kidneys manage the acid levels in your urine. It's also a relatively safe diuretic, which means it forces you to pee more often. A combination of these and other factors make potassium citrate very effective at treating kidney stones and some types of urinary tract infections.
Some medical conditions can be caused by a lack of potassium. Potassium citrate is often used to treat these. Both gout and arrhythmia can be treated with potassium citrate if a patient appears to have low blood potassium levels.
Potassium Citrate In Food
Potassium salts are naturally found in a variety of fruits and other foods. Potassium citrate is the salt that's most commonly found in these foods. When people refer to a food as being "rich in potassium," they mean that it has a lot of potassium citrate. Bananas, citrus fruits, apricots, and strawberries all contain a notable amount of potassium citrate. It's also found in beans, spinach, and potato skins. Animal sources of potassium citrate include fish, chicken, and beef.
While potassium citrate occurs naturally in many foods, it's used as an additive in many others. It's often used to manage acidity levels in liquids.
A Healthy Choice
Potassium citrate isn't the only way for your body to get the potassium it needs, but it's a convenient one. Studies have shown that potassium lowers blood pressure, guards against bone loss, and helps to ward off kidney stones. It's recommended that you get most of your potassium through fresh fruits and vegetables instead of through processed foods or dietary supplements. Luckily, it's abundant in a variety of tasty fruits, vegetables, and meats.
Serious Side Effects
While you're unlikely to experience these symptoms from a food source of potassium citrate, taking a concentrated supplement can lead to a variety of negative side effects. In addition to the normal round of stomach upsets (nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting), people who take time-release potassium citrate pills sometimes experience confusion, irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness, ongoing stomach issues and severe pain, and coughing up blood.
These issues are exceedingly unlikely to be caused by food sources of potassium citrate. You eat potassium salts every day as part of your normal diet. The pills that cause these side effects contain an extremely high dose of potassium that's delivered to your body in an unusual way.
Possible short-term side effects
- increased urination
- damaged stomach lining (in high doses) upset stomach
- serious heart issues (in extremely high doses)
- lowers blood pressure
- promotes heart health
- reduces the occurrence of kidney stones
- may help to treat urinary tract infections