When choosing a potassium supplement, it's important to consider the form of potassium as it affects absorption and effectiveness. Organic forms, such as potassium citrate, are typically more easily absorbed by the body. Additionally, the quality of the supplement should be evaluated, looking for purity and absence of synthetic additives, which can negatively impact absorption and potentially cause health issues.
Why do we take supplements containing potassium?
Potassium is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in regulating the balance of water and electrolytes in the body. It's found in every cell and helps maintain proper membrane potential, which supports the functioning of the nervous and muscle systems. Athletes often use potassium supplements to support muscle activity and replenish what's lost during exercise. It's also commonly used by people with hypertension or arrhythmia to support heart health.
Taking potassium supplements is recommended when there is a risk of losing potassium through:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Taking laxatives and diuretics
- Extensive burns
- Polyuria related to diabetes or certain hormonal disorders
Potassium absorption from food
It's important to consume a diet rich in potassium, which can be found in foods such as cocoa, legumes, groats, poppy seeds, nuts, almonds, potatoes, and tomatoes. Animal-based products contain less potassium. A typical diet usually provides about half of the daily potassium requirement, but often includes excessive amounts of sodium which hinders potassium absorption.
Other elements that limit how much of this substance is absorbed are:
The absorption of potassium can be enhanced by the presence of vitamin B6 or magnesium. These can be found in natural sources of potassium such as grains or nuts. However, those taking diuretics, engaging in intense physical activity, consuming alcohol excessively, living with diabetes or malnutrition, and experiencing frequent diarrhea and vomiting may not be getting enough potassium from their diet. In such cases, regular potassium supplementation may be necessary, but it is important to choose the right supplement from the many options available on the market.
What determines a potassium's ability to be absorbed?
When it comes to potassium supplements, the same factors that can decrease the absorption of potassium from natural sources, such as diuretics, intense physical activity, alcohol consumption, diabetes, and malnutrition, can also affect the absorption of potassium from supplements. However, the form of potassium also plays a role in its bioavailability. Non-organic potassium chloride has a lower bioavailability compared to organic forms such as citrate or gluconate, which have a bioavailability of up to 85-90%. Additionally, organic forms of potassium do not add excessive amounts of chloride to the body.
When choosing a potassium supplement, it's important to pay attention to the accompanying substances. Many supplements contain fillers, anti-caking agents, preservatives, or synthetic colorings which can have negative health effects and can affect the absorption of potassium.
Pills are the most commonly found form of potassium supplements, but capsules are a more effective option as they are more easily digested and contain less filler, leading to better absorption of potassium.