Low Carb Diets and Potassium

If you are a low carb dieter, you most likely were advised to take potassium supplements. This could happen for one or both of these reasons:

1)you are, or want to be in, ketosis (an acidic condition associated with excessive amounts of ketones in the blood) and ketosis is shown to cause potassium deficit; and/or
2) you are dehydrated and dehydration is know to be accompanied with potassium loss.
There are other factors that can influence your potassium need. You may be experiencing one of these:

* adaptation to ketosis, which can lead to potassium conservation by the body. Studies have shown that after five weeks on a very low-carb diet (20g carbs a day) with adequate water intake, potassium concentration in the blood was normal.
* decrease in food intake (due to decreased appetite),which can return potassium concentration in the blood back to normal. Clinical observation is that potassium concentration increases proportional with the increase of the energy deficit when calories burnt exceed calories eaten.

There is no RDA for Potassium.

Over-the-counter potassium supplements usually contain 99 milligrams per tablet. The average American diet provides two to six grams of potassium per day, so you see how little you can get actually get with these supplements. If you doctor advised you on prescription-strength potassium formula, then by all means, follow his or her recommendation.

If you have plenty of these foods and plenty of water, you're postassium intake is probably fine:

* Fish, especially salmon, cod, flounder and sardines
* Meats
* Vegetables, particularly broccoli, tomatoes, potato skins, spinach, lettuce and parsley
* Fruits (you can have lemons, half of a tart green apple, or a quarter of a grapefruit on a low-carb diet)

Watch for These Signs of Potassium Deficit!

The most common symptom of potassium deficit is fatigue; initial symptoms of potassium deficiency include slow reaction, muscle weakness and dry skin.

Be especially attentive to the signs of potassium deficit if you are diabetic, pregnant or suffer from alcoholism.


American Family Physician, 60(5):1468-76, 1999
Endocrinology & Metabolism Clinics of N. America, 22(2):209-19, 1993
Deutsche Tierarztliche Wochenschrif, 104(9):359-65, 1997


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