The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for potassium is 4700 mg per day for adults. To get this amount from 99 mg potassium pills, you would need to take about 47 pills per day. However, it’s best to meet your potassium needs through food sources like fruits, vegetables, dairy, fish, poultry and beans. Supplements should only be used if advised by your doctor to correct a deficiency.
How Much Potassium Do You Need Each Day?
Potassium is an important mineral that helps regulate fluid balance, nerve signals, and muscle contractions. The adequate intake (AI) levels for potassium are:
- Infants 0-6 months: 400 mg/day
- Infants 7-12 months: 860 mg/day
- Children 1-3 years: 3000 mg/day
- Children 4-8 years: 3800 mg/day
- Children 9-13 years: 4500 mg/day
- Adolescents 14-18 years: 4700 mg/day
- Adults 19+ years: 4700 mg/day
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults over 19 years old is 4700 mg of potassium per day. This is the average daily amount that meets the potassium needs of 97-98% of healthy individuals.
Some groups may need more potassium, including athletes and highly active individuals who lose more potassium through sweat. People with certain medical conditions like hypertension, heart failure and kidney stones may also benefit from increased potassium intake.
How Many 99 mg Potassium Pills to Meet the RDA?
To meet the RDA of 4700 mg potassium from 99 mg potassium pills, you would need to take about 47 pills per day.
Each 99 mg potassium pill provides 99 mg of potassium. To get 4700 mg of potassium, you would need:
- 4700 mg potassium needed
- Divided by 99 mg potassium per pill
- Equals about 47 pills per day
So taking 47 pills containing 99 mg potassium each would provide around 4693 mg potassium, meeting the RDA.
However, taking high doses of potassium supplements can cause negative side effects like stomach discomfort, diarrhea, muscle weakness and heart palpitations. That’s why it’s recommended to meet your potassium needs primarily through foods instead.
Top Food Sources of Potassium
Instead of potassium supplements, aim to get your recommended 4700 mg potassium mainly from healthy whole food sources like:
Fruits and Vegetables
|White potatoes||1 medium||610|
|Sweet potato||1 medium||542|
|Spinach||1 cup cooked||839|
|Tomato sauce||1 cup||908|
|Beet greens||1 cup cooked||1309|
|Beans (white, lima, kidney, etc)||1 cup cooked||1004|
|Carrot juice||1 cup||689|
|Cottage cheese||1 cup||216|
Meat, Poultry and Fish
|Salmon||3 ounces cooked||584|
|Chicken breast||3 ounces cooked||260|
|Ground beef||3 ounces cooked||300|
A diet high in fruits, vegetables, dairy and lean meats provides many nutrients in addition to potassium. Aim for a balanced plate at meals and choose fresh, whole food sources of potassium.
Risks of Getting Too Much Potassium
Consuming extremely high amounts of potassium from supplements can lead to a condition called hyperkalemia. Symptoms may include:
- Tingling sensations
- Muscle weakness
- Heart palpitations
- Abdominal pain
Potassium levels greater than 6.0 mEq/L are considered dangerously high. Hyperkalemia is more common in those with reduced kidney function. But even healthy people could develop hyperkalemia if taking over 18 grams (18,000 mg) of potassium a day.
To be safe, the Institute of Medicine set the tolerable upper intake level (UL) for potassium at 3,500-4,700 mg/day for adults over 19 years old. Stick to this recommended upper limit to avoid negative side effects.
When to Take Potassium Supplements
For most healthy people, potassium supplements are unnecessary. Meet your needs through food instead of pills whenever possible.
However, your doctor may recommend potassium supplements if you have:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Heart failure
- Recurrent kidney stones
- Diuretic use
- Gastrointestinal disorders that impair potassium absorption
- Athletes with significant potassium losses in sweat
Medications like diuretics, laxatives or steroids can also deplete potassium stores, making supplements more necessary for some. Your doctor can run blood tests to check for low potassium (hypokalemia).
Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements to make sure they are appropriate for your individual health needs.
Precautions When Taking Potassium Supplements
If you’ve been advised to take potassium supplements, keep these precautions in mind:
- Take only the dose recommended by your doctor.
- Space doses evenly throughout the day instead of all at once.
- Take supplements with food to reduce side effects.
- Avoid salt substitutes high in potassium if also taking supplements.
- Don’t take supplements if you have kidney dysfunction.
- Notify your doctor of any side effects like tingling, heart palpitations, muscle weakness or GI distress.
- Talk to your doctor before taking any other new medications or supplements that may interact.
Potassium supplements often come in capsules, tablets, powders or liquids containing 99 mg, 500 mg or up to 999 mg per dose. Common forms include potassium chloride, potassium bicarbonate, potassium gluconate and potassium citrate. Read supplement facts labels closely.
Maximum Safe Dosage of Potassium Supplements
The maximum safe dosage can vary considerably based on your individual health, medical conditions and medications. Always follow your doctor’s instructions for potassium supplements.
As a general guide, the Institute of Medicine advises these maximum amounts from supplements and diet combined for healthy adults:
- 19-50 years: 3,500 mg potassium/day
- 51+ years: 3,800 mg potassium/day
Higher doses may be appropriate for some adults based on their health status. But intake above 4,700 mg per day could increase the risk of hyperkalemia and cardiac problems if kidney function is impaired.
Seek emergency care right away if you experience irregular heart beat, chest pain, muscle weakness or difficulty breathing after taking potassium supplements.
Signs You May Need More Potassium
Mild potassium deficiency may have subtle symptoms or none at all. Look for these signs of low potassium (hypokalemia):
- Fatigue, weakness
- Muscle cramps, spasms
- Heart palpitations
- Frequent urination
- Elevated blood pressure
- Glucose intolerance
Severe potassium deficiency can progress to cardiac arrest in extreme cases. Hypokalemia is usually detected through blood testing.
Certain groups at higher risk of low potassium include:
- Older adults
- People taking diuretics
- Those with eating disorders or malnutrition
- Patients with gastrointestinal disorders
Consult your doctor if you are experiencing potential hypokalemia symptoms. A simple blood test can determine if you need additional dietary or supplemental potassium.
Signs of Too Much Potassium
Consuming very high doses of potassium through diet, medication or supplements can result in hyperkalemia. Signs may include:
- Tingling or numbness
- Weakness in the arms or legs
- Nausea or vomiting
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations or irregular rhythm
- Shortness of breath
- Diarrhea or abdominal cramps
Hyperkalemia is most common in those with advanced kidney disease. The condition can be life-threatening if potassium climbs significantly above safe levels. Seek immediate medical care if you experience severe reactions.
Checking Your Potassium Level
A simple blood test called a potassium or electrolyte panel can measure your current potassium level. This may be ordered if you have:
- Kidney disease
- Heart failure
- Muscle weakness
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Severe dehydration or diarrhea
- Taking medications that affect potassium
Normal potassium blood levels are considered 3.5-5.0 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L).
Mild hypokalemia may be present with potassium of 3.0-3.4 mEq/L, while severe hypokalemia is below 2.5 mEq/L. Hyperkalemia refers to potassium greater than 5.1 mEq/L. Levels above 6.0 mEq/L can be life-threatening.
Interactions with Medications
Certain medications can interact with potassium supplements, either increasing or decreasing potassium levels.
Drugs that may increase potassium blood concentrations include:
- ACE inhibitors for blood pressure (captopril, enalapril, lisinopril)
- Angiotensin receptor blockers for blood pressure (losartan, valsartan)
- NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen
- Heparin injections for blood clots
- Beta blockers for heart conditions (metoprolol, atenolol)
- Potassium-sparing diuretics (spironolactone, triamterene)
On the other hand, some diuretics, laxatives and steroids can deplete potassium, increasing the risk of low potassium.
Always maintain open communication with your healthcare providers about any supplements you take to avoid interactions. Your doctor may adjust your potassium dosage or monitor levels more routinely if you are on medications that alter potassium balance.
The recommended potassium intake for adults is 4700 mg per day, which can be obtained through foods instead of supplements in most cases. To get this amount from 99 mg potassium pills would require around 47 pills daily. However, too much potassium from supplements can be unsafe. Work with your doctor to determine if you need potassium supplements for a deficiency, and follow dosing instructions carefully. With your doctor’s guidance, potassium supplements may be used to correct low levels in some situations, along with adopting a potassium-rich diet. But strive to meet your potassium needs through healthy whole food sources whenever possible.