Potassium Supplementation: Citrate Vs. Gluconate

Updated April 17, 2017

Potassium is important for good body health and is necessary for the heart, kidneys and other organs to work well together. There's usually an adequate amount of potassium in a well-balanced diet but people who are taking certain medications or have specific conditions may require supplements. Potassium gluconate and potassium citrate are potassium supplements available over the counter and by prescription. Each replenishes the body's potassium but the type you should use is determined by underlying physical conditions.


Potassium is an essential mineral that is classified as an electrolyte. It helps maintain the water balance inside the cells and is essential in the transmission of nerve impulses. It maintains proper muscle and nerve function, is involved in metabolic processes, and helps control blood pressure. Potassium plays an important role in the regulation of heart rhythm and kidney function. As an electrolyte, potassium is involved in transporting nutrients to the cells and carrying wastes away.

Benefits of Potassium Gluconate

Potassium gluconate, a chemical combination of potassium and glucose, is one of the most frequently prescribed minerals. It's used to replenish low blood potassium, to maintain normal levels, or to avoid potassium depletion during specific drug therapies and certain diseases. It is often prescribed for patients who are taking medications to control blood pressure and manage cardiac disorders. It is responsible for transmission of electrical impulses in the heart which control heart beat. Prolonged use of diuretics, digitalis, ACE-inhibitors, furosemide, steroids and several other medications inhibit the body's ability to absorb potassium, requiring this supplement

Benefits of Potassium Citrate

Potassium citrate is a chemical combination of potassium and citric acid and is one of the most absorbable forms of the mineral. It is used to treat a kidney stone condition called renal tubular acidosis. It metabolises quickly to reduce the acid level in urine and decrease the formation of kidney stones. By lowering the uric acid level, potassium citrate is helpful in preventing or treating gout and certain metabolic disorders resulting from kidney disease. It effectively reduces painful urination and urinary frequency and is also helpful in treating hypokalemia. Potassium citrate is useful in maintaining normal cardiac rhythm and blood pressure.


Your overall physical condition should determine whether you take a potassium supplement in the form of potassium gluconate or potassium citrate. Neither should be taken until a medical evaluation and blood tests have been completed. Physicians may recommend diet changes or the consumption of foods that are high in potassium before prescribing a supplement. If you have kidney disease, gout or kidney stones, potassium citrate is preferred because of its chemical composition. Potassium gluconate is advised as an adjunct in treatment of hypertension, cardiac and metabolic disorders. Both supplements effectively treat hypokalemia (low blood levels of potassium).


Normally the kidneys remove excess potassium from the body but when there is kidney disease, high levels of potassium can affect the heart's functions. It's important to follow physician recommendations, have your progress monitored and use care with dosages to avoid toxic side effects.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Nancy Williams has been writing about health-related topics since 1979. Her work has been published in "Prevention," "Nurseweek" and "Senior Life." Williams is a registered nurse with more than 35 years of experience and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in health-care administration. She is working on a book about historic sites in the West.