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The best way to obtain extra potassium is to eat several pieces of fruit per day, as well as liberal amounts of vegetables. The amount of potassium found in the diet ranges from about 2.5 grams to about 5.8 grams per day. The amount allowed in supplements—99 mg per tablet or capsule—is very low, considering that one banana can contain 500 mg. Check with your physician before taking large amounts of potassium since it may irritate the stomach.
So-called primitive diets provided much greater levels of potassium than modern diets, which may provide too little. Gross deficiencies, however, are rare except in cases of prolonged vomiting, diarrhea, or use of “potassium-depleting” diuretic drugs. People taking one of these drugs are often advised by their doctor to take supplemental potassium. Prescription amounts of potassium provide more than the amounts sold over the counter but not more than the amount found in several pieces of fruit.
Common supplement forms of potassium include potassium gluconate, potassium chloride, potassium citrate, and potassium aspartate. Potassium citrate is the preferred form for the prevention of kidney stones. The aspartate in potassium magnesium aspartate (which delivers both potassium aspartate and magnesium aspartate) may increase uptake of potassium. Yet, care needs to be taken not to consume excessive amounts of aspartate. To avoid consuming too much aspartate, one recommendation is to limit potassium magnesium aspartate to 3.35 g/day (equivalent to around 400 mg of potassium and 2.7 g of aspartate), and to get additional potassium from other forms.22
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2017.