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What Is a Safe Potassium Level?

Updated July 19, 2017

Potassium is an essential mineral called an electrolyte. It sends charges to the body causing cardiac, smooth muscle, and skeletal muscle contractions.

What Is a Normal Potassium Level

A normal potassium (K+) level is 3.5 to 5.0. Hypokalemia is the term for a low blood potassium level, while a high blood potassium level is called hyperkalemia.

Hypokalemia

Signs of a low potassium level may be weakness, lack of energy, stomach distress, leg cramps, irregular heartbeat and abnormal EKG results.

Hyperkalemia

Signs of a high potassium level can be nausea, irregular heartbeat, and even cardiac death and loss of heartbeat. Potassium is filtered through the kidneys. Therefore, people with kidney failure are at a very high risk of high potassium levels.

Potassium Supplements

The best source of potassium is fresh unprocessed fruits and vegetables. Multivitamins are also a safe source for most people. Supplemental potassium other than from a daily multivitamin should not be taken unless prescribed by a physician.

Medications That Alter Potassium Levels

Steroids, diuretics, insulin and digoxin all can lower potassium levels. Medications that can increase potassium levels are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS), ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, heparin, and blood pressure medications. Foods that are low in sodium may also be high in potassium.

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About the Author

After a 21-year career in cardiac nursing, Shelly Adams decided to pursue a second career in journalism. She began writing weekly food articles for her local paper in Scottsboro, Ala., three years ago, then began writing for several magazines and online. Last year, she wrote a Southeastern travel guide book that received national recognition.