Potassium chloride is a supplement used to treat low levels of potassium in the blood, and it is also an ingredient in many salt substitutes. Potassium is a vital electrolyte that sustains life, lowers blood pressure and balances fluid in your body, and most people do not meet their daily recommendation of this nutrient. Potassium chloride can be a healthy addition to certain diets, but people with certain medical conditions should avoid using it as a supplement or a salt substitute.
Role of Potassium
Potassium produces electrical impulses in the body with the help of sodium and other electrolytes. This communication supports a beating heart, moving a hand from a hot stove or moving muscles when working out. Without potassium, normal functions and movements couldn't be accomplished. Potassium and sodium also work together to balance fluids and control blood pressure, but eating too much sodium raises blood pressure. Potassium counteracts the harmful effects of sodium, and the Institute of Medicine recommends 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day for adults. One-quarter teaspoon of potassium chloride salt substitute provides 660 milligrams of potassium.
Benefits to the Heart
Potassium chloride may benefit your heart, according to researchers from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine of the University of London. In this trial, participants who received potassium chloride supplements experienced significant improvements to their cardiovascular system, specifically left ventricle function. The left ventricle is one of the four chambers of the heart and noted to be the powerhouse, because it pumps blood to the rest of the body. The participants' blood pressure also dropped slightly with this electrolyte supplement.
Potassium chloride can be a healthy salt substitute for people who want to cut back their sodium intake or a beneficial supplement for people with low blood potassium, but it is not right for everyone. According to the Food and Drug Administration, people with kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease or high blood potassium should not use any salt substitute or supplement that contains potassium chloride. Drugs.com cautions against using potassium chloride if you are dehydrated, have Addison's disease or take diuretics. Before taking potassium chloride or any supplement, talk to your doctor.
- Drugs.com: Potassium Chloride
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Potassium
- Pubmed.gov: “Hypertension”: Effects of Potassium Chloride and Potassium Bicarbonate on Endothelial Function, Cardiovascular Risk Factors, and Bone Turnover in Mild Hypertensives
- Pubmed.gov: “Inflammation & Allergy Drug Targets”: Potassium Channel Openers and Improvement of Toxic Stress: Do They Have Role in the Management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
- FDA: Lowering Salt in Your Diet
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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