Getting enough potassium in your diet is necessary to keep your body functioning properly. Potassium is found in many foods and supplements. However, too much potassium can cause problems. Since your kidneys are responsible for maintaining the level of potassium in the blood, they can become overworked, especially if you have any type of kidney disease. Below is some basic information on how much potassium is healthy and the problems that can result from taking too much potassium.
Potassium plays a role in helping your heart to maintain a regular rhythm and keeping your kidneys working normally. It is also necessary for supporting nerve and muscle functions.
Too high of a level of potassium in the blood is called hyperkalemia. Most people get an adequate amount of potassium in their diet if they eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Healthy levels of potassium are based on age. Infants should get 500 to 700 mg, children between the ages of 1 and 9 should get 1,000 to 1,600 mg, children over 10 years old and adults should have 2,000 mg daily. Check with your health care provider for the exact amounts you need.
Hyperkalemia and Your Heart
Too much potassium can create an irregular heart rhythm. If your levels of potassium reach a very high level, the electrical activity of the heart can completely stop, leading to a heart attack.
Hyperkalemia and Your Muscles
A high level of potassium can interfere with your skeletal muscles. The electrical activity that makes your muscles contract can be interrupted, causing temporary muscle paralysis.
In most cases, this condition does not create symptoms in the early stages. Some patients experience nausea, fatigue, muscle weakness and tingling sensations. As the levels build, you may experience a slow heart beat and pulse.
Since your kidneys are responsible for excreting extra potassium, most cases of this condition are the result of kidney disease. However, certain medications and too much potassium in the diet and through supplements can create this condition as well.