Simple In-Home Test To See If You Are Low In Potassium
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       from Biotics Research newsletter
April 18, 2016

  This month's newsletter is about the dangers of low potassium.  I will be providing information on a simple in-home test that you can do to measure your own potassium levels.  Abnormal potassium levels may cause symptoms such as:

  • Weakness, tiredness, or cramping in arm or leg muscles, sometimes severe enough to cause inability to move arms or legs due to weakness (much like a paralysis)
  • Tingling or numbness.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Abdominal cramping, bloating.
  • Constipation.
  • Frequent urination
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Changes in heart rhythm
  • Palpitations (feeling your heart beat irregularly)

Common causes of low potassium level include:

  • Antibiotics.
  • Diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Using too much laxative, which can cause diarrhea.
  • Chronic kidney disease.
  • Diuretic medicines (water pills), used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure.
  • Eating disorders (such as bulimia)
  • Low magnesium level.
  • Sweating.

                            90 % Of Americans Are Low In Potassium
    Most Americans have three things in common. Most have a "relative acidic" imbalance that is robbing minerals from their bones, most have dietary deficiencies in magnesium, and most are deficient in potassium. 
    Emergency room physicians found that when urinary pH was 7.5, the body was able to excrete toxins more readily. I don't know about you but I am always looking for ways to encourage daily detoxification. In regard to potassium, according to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies "Adults should consume at least 4.7 grams of potassium per day to lower blood pressure, blunt the effects of salt, and reduce the risk of kidney stones and bone loss." This is a very dramatic statement because that means 90% of Americans are below this goal. We know an acidic chemistry can result in bone loss as the body uses "bone resorption" as a means to buffer the excess acids which maintains homeostasis. People who are acidic also tend to have elevated levels of cortisol. Chronically increased cortisol further promotes degradation of bone which causes calcium to spill in their urine and may cause kidney stones. Latent acidosis places a drain on potassium storage as potassium is also used by your body as an important buffer. Indirectly then, sufficient amounts of potassium help prevent bone loss.

    Here's another dietary buffer you wouldn't think of, citrate. One molecule of citrate can buffer three hydrogen ions {the number of hydrogen atoms determines a compound's acidity}. The combination of potassium and citrate may be more important than if they were isolated. One study showed that potassium citrate can lower cortisol levels. Consider this, an "acidic chemistry" is a stress on the body. By increasing natural buffers like potassium, magnesium and citrate, we can reduce stress and also reduce cortisol. 
    When you think about acidic chemistries what conditions come to mind? That's right, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Here's an interesting study that supports higher levels of potassium. A meta-analysis of prospective studies in the "Journal of the American College of Cardiology" 2011 involving 247,510 patients showed higher dietary potassium intake, 1.64 grams per day or more, is associated with a 21% lower rate of stroke. This study was based on 1.64 grams per day. Remember the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine is suggesting 4.7 grams per day. So how can we use this information clinically?  We should find a product that contains 1200 mg of elemental potassium as potassium citrate, and 120 mg of magnesium in the citrate/malate form. I encourage my patients to eat more fruits and vegetables or to drink a green drink. 
   It is suggested that people measure their urine and shoot for the aggressive goal of 7.5, just like the emergency room doctors suggested in their work. That way we can dump the maximum amount of toxins and are careful to avoid too much potassium.  To do a simple in-home test get some pH test strips and start measuring your own urine. You may be surprised. Unless your diet is pristine, you will find you have an acidic chemistry.  Remember, start slow. This gives the kidneys time to adapt. If pH goes over 8.0 reduce the dose. pH is designed to move slowly. Don't expect too much too fast. Our goal is 4.7 grams per day including food. 


Dr. Michele writes a monthly nutrition newsletter, so the following information will change periodically to reflect the current newsletter.