Potassium is a major mineral (electrolyte) that is important for the function of every cell in the body. For example, it is important in nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and kidney function.
Why Is This Medication Prescribed?
Usually, the food you eat supplies all of the potassium you need. However, certain diseases (e.g., kidney disease and gastrointestinal disease with vomiting and diarrhea) and some medications, like diuretics (water pills), remove potassium from the body.
Potassium supplements are taken to treat or prevent low potassium levels in the blood (hypokalemia).
Should I Take A Potassium Supplement to Treat My High Blood Pressure?
The short answer is no, you should not take potassium supplements unless your doctor prescribes them.
Many blood pressure medications—especially the commonly prescribed class known as diuretics—can affect your potassium level.
If you take a diuretic that depletes potassium levels, such as hydrochlorothiazide or furosemide, your doctor may prescribe extended-release potassium tablets, which contain 600 to 750 mg of the mineral.
However, while some diuretics tend to lower potassium levels, other high blood pressure medications have the opposite effect. If you take any diuretic or ACE inhibitor, ask your doctor whether you need periodic testing of your potassium and kidney function, to be on the safe side.
How Should This Medication Be Used?
Potassium comes in oral liquid, powder, granules, effervescent tablets, regular tablets, extended-release (long-acting) tablets, and extended-release capsules. It usually is taken two to four times a day, with or immediately after meals.
Micro-K Extencaps capsules (potassium chloride extended-release) and Micro-K 10 Extencaps capsules are oral dosage forms of microencapsulated potassium chloride containing 600 and 750 mg, respectively, of potassium chloride USP equivalent to 8 and 10 mEq of potassium.
- Treatment of Hypokalemia: Daily dose range from 40 to 100 mEq usually given in 2 to 5 divided doses: limit doses to 40 mEq per dose. The total daily dose should not exceed 200 mEq in a 24-hour period.
- Maintenance or Prevention of Hypokalemia: Typical dose is 20 mEq per day. Individualize dose based upon serum potassium levels.
- Treatment of Hypokalemia: Pediatric patients from birth to 16 years old: The initial dose is 2 to 4 mEq/kg/day in divided doses; do not exceed as a single dose 1 mEq/kg or 40 mEq, whichever is lower; maximum daily doses should not exceed 100 mEq.
- Maintenance or Prevention of Hypokalemia: Pediatric patients from birth to 16 years old: Typical dose is 1 mEq/kg/day. Do not exceed 3 mEq/kg/day.
Take potassium exactly as directed. Do not take more or less than prescribed by your doctor. Swallow extended-release tablets and capsules whole. Do not chew them or dissolve them in your mouth.
How to Use Interchangeable Products?
What Are the Side Effects of Oral Potassium Supplements?
Common reactions to potassium are primarily gastrointestinal and include:
- abdominal discomfort
More severe side effects include:
- high blood potassium levels
- abnormal heart beats
- bleeding or perforation of the stomach or small intestine from ulcers
- narrowing (stricture) of the small intestine from healed ulcers
Irritation and damage to the stomach can be reduced by taking potassium supplements with meals or reducing the dose.
What Brand Names Are Available for Oral Potassium Supplements?
If you have questions about your prescription medications or any other medication, please contact our team at Canada Online Health by calling toll free 1-800-399-DRUG (3784). One of our patient representatives will be happy to assist you or transfer you to a licensed Canadian pharmacist for a free consultation.
This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this medical condition or process and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor. It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your medical situation. If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress, please contact emergency services (such as 911).