Potassium safety?


Could someone find me a resource online that shows it’s safe to ingest ~10g of potassium chloride (~5g of elemental potassium) a day? It kind of freaks me out that this information doesn’t seem available. Natural sources of potassium in foods is one thing but what if the absorption rate is so much faster in potassium chloride that it’s dangerous?

One other person here seemed to have a somewhat similar concern and his thread is also entirely unanswered: http://discourse.soylent.me/t/excessive-potassium-concentration/2780

I seem to forget potassium chloride is the same as no-salt salt substitute (right?). So… it has to be fairly safe then, eh? Or maybe not. It seems the only information I can find say it’s dangerous. That it’s carefully regulated/prescribed, that long time release pills are used and shouldn’t be crushed, etc. None of this bodes well.


That is a really good article on the importance of potassium, and goes a little bit into the prescription of potassium chloride.

All in all it appears that there is a balance between the chloride and the potassium along with salts and magnesium.

Here is another article about it as well:

Personally I use potassium gluconate.


Unfortunately neither of those articles talk about dosage, which is what I need. Other than to say you shouldn’t supplement potassium without the supervision of a doctor.


That last one is particularly interesting. Although that is a large dose it’s still not that large relatively speaking. Also the FDA DV is lower than the IOM DRI which is 4.7g: http://www.iom.edu/Global/News%20Announcements/~/media/442A08B899F44DF9AAD083D86164C75B.ashx

I would like to take a 2.5g dose (5g potassium chloride) in say, a protein shake, twice a day. Powder supplements is a good place to look. Hard to find info on it being dangerous (but a lot of alluding) but also hard to find info on it being safe…


I thought this thread deserves a bump. I am also looking to find safety info on potassium supplements. Potassium in food is contained inside cells so it’s absorption is slow. But in supplements, it’s not so. In my opinion serum levels of potassium can rise faster when supplements are used which can be dangerous. On this note, you can find online that there are reported deaths when “not too high” amount of potassium supplement is ingested.

So, how much of potassium gluconate is safe in single dose?


The Institute of Medicine does not even set a Tolerable Upper Limit for potassium.



how much single dose of potassium gluconate is safe?


Potassium chloride (KCl) is about 52% K. Potassium gluconate is only about 16% K. I’ve ingested 6.5g/day of KCl for the past several months and have lived to tell about it.


I am still afraid of potassium supplements


The time to be afraid of K overdose is when you’re strapped down to a gurney. Otherwise, I’m more afraid of K deficiency.


on internet you never know where the person is talking from



This is what the mayo clinic has under potassium gluconate supplementation:

“20 milliequivalents (mEq) diluted in 2 tablespoonfuls or more of cold water or juice, taken two to four times a day. Your doctor may change the dose if needed. However, most people will not take more than 100 mEq a day”

To put this into perspective 20mEq is roughly 4.68 grams of potassium gluconate. Since an entire bag of Soylent 1.5 has 3.43 grams of potassium glucanate id say there is nothing to worry about.

The fact of the mater is that many people on the internet tend to vilify things that are perfectly safe. Just about anything can kill you in excess, even water.


Those examples in that article are of people who either accidentally or purposely took lethal doses of potassium. As long as you don’t have a preexisting medical condition that makes you sensitive to K and you use your brain then taking a dose of any supplement equal to the DRI for someone you age and gender should be just fine.


This might sound stupid but when I made my original formulation of Soylent, years ago now, and it had of course the equivalent potassium as real Soylent, I would get an extremely weird effect in my head, every time. Like a head rush, but unique. Potassium was really the only ingredient in it that was massively higher than what my body typically received, after all there are few ingredients in Soylent outside of a multivitamin (I’d have to consult my spreadsheet to see just what) but potassium was one of them. I blame that feeling on potassium. Justly? Well, I think so, I’d never taken near that much potassium before though I’d had all the other things, and the feeling was unique - two unique things. I can’t remember if I ever tested it without the potassium to see if the feeling went away (I’m either a bad scientist or just a forgetful one it seems). However it freaked me out. It always went straight to my head. Maybe it’s a positive thing and not a negative, but that’s why I started this topic back then.


The average daily potassium intake of the U.S. population is 2640 mg per day, 25% less than the FDA’s Daily Value for adults, so your previous underconsumption of potassium was not unusual. With the onset of the “head rush” symptom that you described, it would have been advisable to dial back your supplementation to your previous levels and titrate to full dosage to allow yourself to adjust to the increased potassium levels.


Here’s a reliable and well-referenced source speaking on the matter - they are speaking on the actual amount of elemental potassium delivered, not potassium chloride (emphasis mine):

Oral doses greater than 18 grams taken at one time in individuals not accustomed to high intakes may lead to severe hyperkalemia, even in those with normal kidney function (4). Hyperkalemia may also result from a shift of intracellular potassium into the circulation, which may occur with the rupture of red blood cells (hemolysis) or tissue damage (e.g., trauma or severe burns). Symptoms of hyperkalemia may include tingling of the hands and feet, muscular weakness, and temporary paralysis. The most serious complication of hyperkalemia is the development of an abnormal heart rhythm (cardiac arrhythmia), which can lead to cardiac arrest (38). The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of medicine did not set a tolerable upper intake level (UL) for potassium because adverse effects from high dietary intakes of potassium have not been reported in healthy individuals (4). See Drug interactions for a discussion of the medications that increase the risk of hyperkalemia.

Hyperkalemia is the state of having high enough levels of potassium in the blood that you are at risk of a cardiac event. Hypokalemia - blood levels too low - is also a problem. The body has mechanisms that regulate the levels, both in absorption (from food in the gut), and controlling potassium loss (through the kidneys/urination and sweat glands/prespiration), but the key controller is the kidneys.

18 grams taken at once is a tremendous bolus compared to taking 3.464 grams spread out over four meals - which is only 0.866 grams per meal (that’s the Soylent 1.5 amount.) However, if you need to be extremely careful for some reason, you should be aware of the potential symptoms (which you can find at the above link), and most importantly, aware of the drug interactions:

Some fairly common things have some influence on potassium metabolism, including caffeine, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed). Personally, I am not concerned about the standard dose of potassium in Soylent (and I use potassium citrate in my DIY). I’m not concerned even while using these OTC items. But if I were experimenting with higher amounts of potassium for some ill-advised reason, I’d take a lot of care and become familiar with the whole list.

Large amounts of sodium and/or potassium are riskier than other minerals in part because sodium/potassium balance is very important in our bodies; these are the two most critical electrolytes, which are central to cellular activity and water balance. There’s a high level of sodium in the blood, compared to inside our cells; meanwhile, there’s a high level of potassium inside the cells, compared to the blood. This balance is critical for a wide variety of reasons - it’s necessary for the activities that shuttle nutrients and stuff into cells and out of cells, it’s necessary to maintain proper water pressure inside the cells (you don’t want them swelling up or going limp), it’s necessary for proper electrical conductivity for neural cells and nerves… In fact, one of the major causes of hyperkalemia (excess potassium in the blood) is a sudden die-off of cells due to some other cause… and the dead cells leak out their potassium, which gets right into the blood.

All that being said, the usual problem in our society isn’t getting an excess of potassium… it’s having an excess of sodium! For most people, we enjoy too many salty foods (or foods with “secret sodium,” like some soups and sauces)… an extra bump of potassium compensates for the extra sodium, helping the body keep things in balance. If you aren’t 100% Soylent, your off-Soylent meals are likely to be high in sodium and low in potassium, and Soylent is a good compensator. This is, in fact, a big part of the reason why Soylent is arguably low in sodium for some people - you can see all the threads about people adding salt to see discussion on that.


Great link.

This may be true. Though we should note that in 2013 the IOM pretty much overturned the FDA’s previous upper limit of “1,500 mg among persons who are 51 years of age and older and those of any age who are African-American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.” instead finding evidence that reducing salt to that degree is actually detrimental in all those areas it was supposedly of benefit (yay).

NY Times article on the 2013 IOM report:

Another article on the report:


(I don’t know if foodsafetynews is a reputable website or not, I didn’t dig that deeply, but it seemed better than others.)

The actual IOM report, apparently: http://iom.nationalacademies.org/Reports/2013/Sodium-Intake-in-Populations-Assessment-of-Evidence.aspx

Still widespread disagreement on recommended salt intakes. :smiley:


What’s important is keeping the potassium/sodium ratio, around 2 times higher potassium than sodium. And that’s a serious problem in today’s processed foods, which are loaded with salt. Here’s a Harvard article on the matter: