I have a problem with my websites. I try to post there only what has some scientific justification, is researched, even on animals. But what to do in a situation when there are no such studies? What if medicine simply doesn’t give a damn about something and there hasn’t even been a single clinical trial? This is exactly the case with potassium. There is a lot to suggest that it has a key role in the genesis of anxiety disorders, but… it hasn’t been tested what happens when neurotics supplement it. Should I recommend it as a result? I decided to write this blog article so everyone can read it in peace and make up their own minds.
This is an extremely important element. Its low intake is responsible for a large proportion of deaths from heart disease, hypertension is largely simply a symptom of potassium deficiency and excess sodium in the diet. Preliminary animal studies also suggest that it is the low levels in the diet that may be at least partly responsible for the development of atherosclerosis. Most disturbing are the suggestions about cancer, here again the research is lacking, but in virtually every disease where potassium is stored in the body the risk of cancer decreases, and in every disease where it escapes it increases. There are also many other facts that make one wonder if the cancer epidemic is not, by chance, largely due to low intake of this very element:
To begin with, the question is, where do the deficiencies come from? Possibly simply from diet.
Only 1.4% (1 person in 70) consumed the recommended amount, and the statistical US resident consumed only slightly over 50%. Almost everyone is dietary deficient!
Maybe it’s a matter of drinking lots of sodas? A case of extreme deficiency caused by drinking 4 liters of Pepsi a day has been described:
Of course, almost no one drinks that much, but we’re also not talking about a situation where you end up in the hospital because of it. It can be simply one of the factors, adding its 5 or 10 percent weaker assimilability.
How about hot baths? It has been studied how much of this disappears in an hour:
Seemingly not much, only about half a gram, but given that the assimilability is around 50%, during a hot bath you can lose half of what you assimilated during the day, and if you only consume half the recommended dose, you have a problem. We assimilate 1 gram, we sweat out half of it.
I recently wrote an article about coffee, this information was missing there. Drinking too much coffee can also lead to so much potassium loss that you end up in the hospital:
It is also known that low magnesium intake can hinder absorption, and as vitamin D3 deficiency hinders magnesium absorption, avoiding the sun can in distant consequence cause this deficiency as well.
Perhaps these factors are responsible for the fact that despite a vegetarian diet, and for a while a vegan diet, I could develop a deficiency, which resulted in the neurotic problems that plagued me at one time? I was convinced that I could not lack this element. Maybe I was wrong. Who knows, maybe latent tetany, which people on my forum persistently treat with magnesium, has its source in potassium, and magnesium deficiency is simply something that prevented the assimilation of this potassium? Perhaps they will never heal because they are supplementing the wrong element?
The motivation for writing the article was this study:
Granted, it’s only rats, but if the results were to translate to humans, they are very, very significant. It only took 45 days of a low potassium diet for adrenaline levels to jump by… 270%! This is unbelievable, already a 50% jump can give neurotic symptoms and trigger panic attacks in more sensitive people, and here we have 270%. It is suspected that the mechanism may be quite simple, the body secretes adrenaline to shrink blood vessels, dilated due to a deficiency of potassium-dependent substances. These are only speculations, moreover, the mechanism itself is not important. What is important is that the effect of potassium deficiency is so great that it overshadows everything else.
So far, my anxiety website has recommended that we simply increase our dietary potassium intake. This is pretty simple and supposedly should be enough, but I know from experience that if someone isn’t told specifically how much to eat each day, exactly what supplement to eat, they just won’t eat it. He will tell himself that he changed his diet for the better and will forget about potassium after a week.
In conclusion, I think people with anxiety disorders and especially people with panic attacks should try supplementation of at least 2 grams of potassium per day and maybe even 3 grams. After consulting with a doctor if someone has severe kidney disease.
I will point out right away that the potassium level in the blood does NOT reflect the level in the body. The vast majority is inside the cells, a blood test can only tell if the body can control what is released into the bloodstream, which is a good initial test for such things as adrenal or kidney disorders. Only in extreme cases can deficiencies be detected with this test.
How long does it take to correct a deficiency? The first effects can sometimes be seen immediately, as the body sends what it assimilates to where the element is most important. But it takes longer to increase levels in tissues. It is known that the human body (70 kg) contains about 140 grams of potassium. There are no studies on anxiety disorders, but in patients with hypertension, the total amount in the body is lower by 10 to 15 percent:
So it can be assumed that an additional 20 grams are needed before everything returns to normal. The body needs time to move everything into the tissues, so you need to stretch it out accordingly. Assuming magnesium levels are high enough for the potassium to assimilate, assuming there are no diseases that impede assimilation such as untreated diabetes, everything should take a little over a month. We take in an extra 2 grams of potassium per day, half of which will assimilate, and only half of which will be stored.
There is almost exactly half a gram of potassium chloride in 1 gram of potassium chloride, you can assume that you should be taking 4 grams of chloride per day, broken into 2 servings. I would suggest dissolving 2 grams at a time in a glass of water and drinking it slowly, over a few, even several minutes, which will slow down the absorption and avoid the effect of getting a large amount into the blood at once.
There are about 350 mg of potassium alone in 1 gram of potassium citrate, so you can assume that you should take 6 grams of citrate, with a single serving of 3 grams, also dissolved in water.
You can try three grams instead of two, in which case you do everything as above, only adding one more glass.
Potassium is ABSOLUTELY safe, the problem is with severe kidney disease, as well as diseases that interfere with its metabolism, such as severe adrenal disorders (no, self-diagnosis after watching a youtube video “adrenal fatigue syndrome” is not a real disease). Supplementation in doses as I described above will make the average city dweller consume 100% of the recommended requirement: 50% from diet, 50% from supplementation. It can be suggested that such supplementation would be beneficial even if carried out for life, although obviously a change in diet to one containing more vegetables and fruit is much better.
It is uncertain what the health consequences of consuming so much chloride and citrate will be, it is possible that citrate will even be beneficial because of its participation in the Krebs cycle, and it is possible that it will have some negative long-term effects. No one has tested this. For this reason at least, it is better to focus on diet. For more on what citrate or chloride is, or a rehash of basic chemistry, see the previous post:
An interesting trick is to replace table salt with so-called diet salt, which is a mixture of sodium chloride (regular table salt) and potassium chloride. You can usually buy it in grocery stores.
I don’t think it is wise to use very high doses, over 5 grams. I would suggest rather low, as recommended in this post, but taken regularly for at least a month.
I would also advise being careful with severe diarrhea, like intestinal flu or food poisoning. In such case the electrolyte levels in the blood are severely disturbed and even small doses of potassium or even table salt can cause a problem, and larger doses can even be a threat to health and life.
If you are taking pills to lower your blood pressure, you may have an unusual problem. If the hypertension was caused by a potassium deficiency, and the supplement cures it, then the blood pressure will be low enough without medication. Trying to bring it even lower with medication can lead to a situation where hypotension occurs. Therefore, if you are taking such medication and decide to take potassium, you should check your blood pressure regularly, even several times a day, and reduce the dose of this medication if necessary, as the effect of potassium will last for several weeks and stopping it will not change anything. Your doctor should decide on the details.