How much cream of tartar should I take for potassium?

Potassium is an essential mineral that plays many important roles in the body. Low potassium levels, also known as hypokalemia, can cause symptoms like muscle cramps, fatigue, constipation and heart palpitations. There are many reasons someone may be deficient in potassium, including certain medications, chronic health conditions or inadequate dietary intake. Luckily, there are also several ways to increase your potassium levels if they are too low. One option is to take a potassium supplement like cream of tartar.

What is Cream of Tartar?

Cream of tartar, also known as potassium bitartrate, is a popular baking ingredient composed of potassium and tartaric acid. It’s known for stabilizing egg whites and preventing sugar crystallization in recipes. However, it also contains a decent amount of potassium – approximately 548 mg per teaspoon (3 grams). For this reason, it’s sometimes used as a natural potassium supplement.

Potassium is a mineral that carries a positive charge, which allows it to conduct electricity when dissolved in water. It’s important for nerve function, muscle contractions (including the heart) and maintaining fluid balance.

The current daily value (DV) for potassium for adults is 4,700 mg. Most people should aim for this amount from food sources like fruits, vegetables, dairy and fish.

Signs and Symptoms of Low Potassium

Mild potassium deficiency often doesn’t cause any obvious symptoms. But if your levels drop below 3.5 mmol/L, you may experience:

  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure

Severe potassium deficiency under 2.5 mmol/L can cause more serious complications like:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Paralysis
  • Heart rhythm disorders
  • Muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis)

Checking for low potassium levels requires a simple blood test. Your doctor may order this if you have symptoms or risk factors for potassium deficiency.

Causes of Low Potassium

Some common causes of hypokalemia include:

  • Medications: Diuretics, laxatives, steroid therapy, antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs can all deplete potassium levels.
  • Gastrointestinal conditions: Vomiting, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease and colon polyps can lead to excessive potassium losses.
  • Endocrine disorders: Hyperaldosteronism (high aldosterone), hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome and diabetic ketoacidosis may lower potassium.
  • Kidney disease: Damaged kidneys have difficulty conserving potassium, especially in advanced chronic kidney disease.
  • Low magnesium levels: Magnesium is needed for the body to utilize potassium properly.
  • Malnutrition: Long-term deficiency of potassium-rich foods can decrease levels.
  • Alcoholism: Chronic excessive alcohol intake often depletes minerals like potassium.

Benefits of Potassium Supplements

Taking potassium supplements can help restore healthy levels if you have a deficiency. Potential benefits include:

  • Relief of muscle cramps and spasms
  • Improved energy levels
  • Regulation of heart rhythm
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Decreased risk of kidney stones
  • Less water retention or bloating

However, the benefits are only seen if you’re actually low in potassium. Taking supplements when your levels are normal provides no added advantages.

How Much Cream of Tartar for Potassium?

Here are general dosing guidelines for how much cream of tartar to take per day based on your needs:

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2-5 grams) daily for maintenance if deficient
  • 1-2 teaspoons (3-6 grams) daily for moderate potassium deficiency
  • Up to 2 tablespoons (14 grams) daily to correct severe deficiency under medical supervision

This provides approximately:

  • 548-1,096 mg potassium per teaspoon
  • 1,644-3,288 mg potassium per 1-2 teaspoons
  • 7,672 mg potassium per 2 tablespoons

Of course, the dosage needs to be tailored to your individual needs and health status. Here are some key things to consider:

1. Have your potassium levels tested

Don’t take potassium supplements unless you know you have a deficiency. High doses can cause dangerous hyperkalemia when levels exceed the normal range of 3.5-5.0 mmol/L.

2. Speak with your healthcare provider

Work with your doctor to determine an appropriate cream of tartar dosage and formulate a treatment plan based on your lab results and medical history.

3. Read the product label

Always follow the dosage instructions listed on the cream of tartar container. Don’t exceed the recommended daily amount.

4. Spread out your dosage

Taking smaller doses 2-3 times per day can help your body absorb the potassium better than a large single dose.

5. Consider other sources

Increase potassium-rich foods in your diet and speak to your doctor about other supplement forms like potassium chloride or potassium bicarbonate if needed.

Is Cream of Tartar Safe?

For most healthy people, modest amounts of cream of tartar are considered safe. However, there are some side effects and cautions to be aware of:

  • May cause mild stomach upset, bloating or diarrhea
  • Don’t exceed recommended dosages
  • Avoid if you have kidney disease or are on potassium-sparing diuretics
  • Not suitable for those with extremely high or dangerously low potassium levels
  • May interact with heart medications like digoxin

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should only use cream of tartar supplements under medical supervision. And remember – it’s not a substitute for real food. Focus on getting plenty of potassium from your diet whenever possible.

High Potassium Foods

Here are some foods high in potassium to incorporate in your meals and snacks:

Food Serving Potassium (mg)
White beans 1 cup cooked 1004
Lentils 1 cup cooked 731
Baked potato 3.5 oz with skin 610
Spinach 1 cup cooked 839
Avocado 1 whole fruit 690
Salmon 3 oz cooked 566
Bananas 1 medium fruit 422
Yogurt 1 cup plain 531

Aim to fill your diet with a variety of high potassium fruits, veggies, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains and dairy products. This provides the most health benefits and nutrients.

Other Ways to Increase Potassium

In addition to food sources and cream of tartar, you can boost your potassium intake with these methods:

  • Take over-the-counter potassium supplements like potassium chloride or potassium gluconate tablets.
  • Switch to lower dose diuretics or potassium-sparing diuretics under medical guidance.
  • Treat any underlying conditions causing losses like vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Avoid excess sodium and processed foods that can deplete potassium.
  • Stay hydrated with water and hydrating fluids like coconut water.
  • Cut back on caffeine and alcohol, which act as diuretics.

Signs of Too Much Potassium

Consuming too much supplemental potassium or cream of tartar can lead to hyperkalemia. This is characterized by:

  • Tingling, burning or numbness
  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Nausea
  • Slow or abnormal heart rhythm
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing

Potassium levels above 5.5 mmol/L require immediate medical treatment. Seek help right away if you experience any hyperkalemia symptoms after taking potassium supplements.

Who Should Be Cautious with High Potassium?

Certain individuals need to be careful with high dietary or supplemental potassium intake:

  • People with kidney disorders, especially end stage renal disease on dialysis
  • Those taking medications that reduce potassium excretion like ACE inhibitors, ARBs and potassium-sparing diuretics
  • People with adrenal insufficiency or dysfunction
  • Individuals diagnosed with hyperkalemia or familial high potassium disorders

Anyone at risk should have their potassium monitored and only use supplements under medical guidance.


Cream of tartar can be an effective way to increase potassium levels and relieve deficiency symptoms like fatigue and muscle cramps. Most healthy adults can safely take 1/2 to 2 teaspoons daily in divided doses. However, it’s important to have your levels tested first and follow dosing guidelines. While high amounts of potassium from whole foods are healthy, excessive supplementation can potentially be dangerous. For this reason, cream of tartar and other potassium supplements are best used short-term under medical supervision.

Focus on getting plenty of potassium from dietary sources like fruits, vegetables, beans and dairy products whenever possible. But if your levels are chronically low, don’t hesitate to discuss supplement options with your doctor.

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