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Potassium is one of the single most important minerals in your body. I believe it is also the most underrated mineral as well. Potassium is an electrolyte. Most people know of electrolyte just as “things that you need after a workout”. Which is true, just it’s not the full story.
Electrolytes are essential for the nervous system, you can see this in the name: ‘electro’lyte which just basically means it helps conduct electricity.
Potassium is the third most abundant mineral in our bodies. Potassium helps to send nerve signals, and especially muscle contractions. You can easily see this if you have a muscle twitch or a cramping muscle. It is likely that you have an imbalance of potassium.
But did you know that having a potassium imbalance is actually quite common when on a keto diet?
This is because generally on a keto diet you are eating fresh natural foods with no preservatives. However a fellow electrolyte – sodium – is the main preservative in many foods. And people (myself included!) think salt is bad for you.
So within a few weeks of starting a keto diet you will have lost a lot of sodium and likely haven’t replaced with as much as you have expended, in this case as your body loses sodium your kidneys send more potassium in to try and fill the gap. This causes hypokalemio or potassium deficiency.
Which is very bad for your health, since potassium helps to regulate muscle contractions and your most important muscle – your heart – needs to contract on a very specific schedule…you get the idea.
So how do you get potassium? Potassium is found in many fruits and vegetables, some of which are not keto-friendly. But the best sources are:
You can also get a decent amount of potassium from meat, but cooking it actually reduces the amount.
Also working out will cause you to lose potassium quicker which is usually found in people on a keto diet as well, since many are trying to lose weight they tend to exercise more.
The point I’m trying to make is, you need to make sure you are getting enough potassium in your system and it is likely just in your diet along you might not be getting the 3,500mg to 4,700mg (3.5g to 4.7g) you need daily.
This is why I strongly recommend that you get a potassium supplement to go along with your diet to make sure you get enough sodium.
However, do not take too much, read the instructions first because potassium has a very thin safe zone in the bloodstream.
Top Keto-Friendly Potassium Supplement
The Nature Made the Potassium Gluconate is my go to potassium supplement. Now a lot of potassium supplements are rather similar, I break it down to the company behind the product. I want to buy a quality product from a company I can trust, and I have been taking Nature Made products since I was a young teenager. I have relied on their L-Lysine product to protect against my cold sore outbreaks and I know I can trust them.
But it’s not just me who trusts them, they clearly display on their website about being in the United States Pharmacopeia. I like companies being backed by third party non-profits – it just makes me feel so much more comfortable.
What I like about this as well is the company is very well known in the supplements industry (I take their L-lysine product daily to dampen my cold sores) which means you can be assured they have your safety in mind.
The product its self is a little confusing, it says on the bottle that the capsules are 550mg which is nearly 6 times the amount in other similar supplements. However when you look at their ingredients there is actually only 90mg of actual potassium in each tablet. That puts it at slightly less than other supplements but still not bad.
One thing I really enjoy about this product is how much it stands out, I like that Natures Made cares about their brand, they really make them stand out in the stores (I’d buy it online now).
Part of the United States Pharmacopeia. They set the benchmark on what can and can’t be sold as a dietary supplement.
It’s a tablet so you can break them in half if you wish or crush it and add it to food.
No artificial flavors or colors.
Bottle shows 550mg which many people will think means 550mg of potassium, so it is a bit misleading.
Not Gel Capsules so it might be harder to swallow, I prefer gel capsules.
Only contain 90mg of actual potassium which is about 2% of DV.
Runner-Up Potassium Supplement
Another great option is the NOW Potassium Citrate.
NOW products have been around for a very long time, closing in on 50 years! They are have also widely expanded and have become a household name in the supplement industry.
For this reason many people trust them to have the best products available. However, there are a few things I like more about Nature Made instead. The biggest thing was I could not find any information about the USP like I was able to find on Nature Made.
One thing I really like was that NOW Potassium Citrate has gone right up to the maximum allowable limit for a potassium supplement, 99mg. Legally speaking they are allowed to stay under 100mg because it is considered safe for an OTC supplement. This is more than the 90mg in Nature made, but it is still a small amount.
What I like most about this supplement is the fact that they are gel capsules which for me, makes it easier to swallow. Also there is none of that odd flavor you get with the solid form. This is just my personal preference, however.
Highest amount of pure potassium in an OTC supplement.
Non-GMO and Gluten Free
Not working with United States Pharmacopia
Because it’s a gel capsule you can’t break it up or take a half.
Natural Sources of Potassium
Getting potassium through your diet is always the best way to get it, however if you may be deficient in potassium then along with working hard to eat more potassium rich foods, then adding a supplement is definitely a good way to go. That is why they are called “supplements” its supposed to help you, not be your main sources. On average we need around 4,000 milligrams on a daily basis which sounds like a lot, but in actuality it’s not so bad.
Great sources of Potassium for Keto Diets in Particular are:
- Avocados (1,000mg per average avocado)
- Spinach (~840mg per cup)
- Red Meat (~450mg per 4oz, more when cooked rarer, less when more well done)
- Salmon (~800mg per average fillet)
- Nuts (~200mg per ounce)
Many other vegetables have decent amounts of potassium as well, but to get the daily amount you might need to boost it up, and especially focus on the top 3 foods (Avocado, Spinach, Salmon) whenever you can.
When is the Best Time to Take a Potassium Supplement?
The best time for a potassium supplement is with food, this means during or right after you finish eating. This is because it is not well absorbed into the body on its own. When taken with a decent meal then it can have upwards of a 90% absorption rate which is very high.
Check the instructions label but you would typically take 2 to 4 potassium pills per day.
Benefits of Taking a Potassium Supplement
Potassium is crucial for our body, this obviously means that it has huge benefits, however…This is only true if you don’t get enough potassium in your daily diet. Also, getting potassium through your diet is ALWAYS the preferred way to obtain it and it’s counterpart – sodium. Taking a supplement should only be used to help get you to the normal range.
Some benefits of taking potassium are:
- Can help to lower blood pressure – According to the CDC, High Blood Pressure Effects nearly 1 in 3 Americans! High blood pressure leads to many other health issues but most notably the #1 killer – Heart Disease! So managing blood pressure is a sure fire way to increase your health and well-being. Potassium helps to lower blood pressure by reducing excess levels of sodium, sodium can worsen high blood pressure – particularly in people with already elevated blood pressure.
- May Help to Prevent Osteoporosis – About 20% of the potassium in your body is contained in your bones. Having a potassium rich diet might help to prevent the thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) by reducing the amount of calcium lost through urine. In fact, in a study done on women aged 45 to 55 the scientists had found that the women with the highest bone density had the highest potassium containing diet.
- May help to reduce water Retention – Water retention is when excess water builds up in your body and doesn’t come out. Potassium has been used to treat water retention, it helps by increasing urine production and dragging out sodium.
- May help to Prevent Kidney Stones – Kidney stones suck, my aunt was just hospitalized for one. I haven’t had any so far in my life but I hear they are incredibly painful and there isn’t really anything doctors can do if the stone has the potential to pass normally, which means a lot of pain until it passes. Luckily, potassium may help with them as kidney stones are mostly calcium. Potassium citrate helps to low calcium levels in urine.
- May Help Against Strokes – A stroke is a lack of blood to the brain, it can cause severe brain damage and death. Roughly 130,000 people die annually from stroke and there is little warning. There have been multiple studies done on this, one of them was an analysis of 11 studies with 247,510 participants found that people who ate the most potassium had a 21% lower risk of stroke. They also found that eating a diet rich in this mineral was linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.