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POTASSIUM SUPPLEMENTS made me ill

Discussion in 'Detox: Methylation; B12; Glutathione; Chelation' started by Dreambirdie, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. Sparrow

    Sparrow Senior Member

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    Dreambirdie - Thank you for your support. I think you read the post the way it was intended.

    Fred - I'm glad you pointed that out. I didn't intend to inadvertently advocate for slow release pills. They chose those to avoid the potential for too much hitting my blood stream at once (see details below), but I'm not championing them or anything.

    Crux - I don't want to start any kind of heated back and forth here by responding. Probably not a good use of energy for either of us. I did feel obliged to say something, though, to clarify. I think perhaps you have misinterpreted what I was trying to say, or where I'm coming from. I can infer from your response that you maybe feel strongly that people are not taking enough supplemental potassium and therefore see my words of caution as an attack on your position. I will admit that I do feel like sometimes I have seen people here treat potassium supplements very casually, and I'm sure that probably impacted the tone of my post. But I would like to think that if you read the full thing through, you would see that 'disseminating false information' was not at all my intent.

    For the record, as mentioned in that original post, I am not anti potassium supplementation. Quite the contrary - going through low levels myself made me the Potassium Champion. I take potassium supplements, and make conscious choices in my diet to increase those levels further. I am not anti anything that helps us feel better, or facilitates healing. I am, however, in favour of decisions made with an appreciation and respect for the potential risks involved, however large or small they may be. That goes for any medication or supplement. If I'm going to start an anti-viral, I want to know what the risks are and what to watch out for so that I can be aware. That doesn't mean I wouldn't still take it, or that I don't need it, or that it's necessarily dangerous. It just means that I want to be aware of the decision I'm making. And if anyone has personal experience with or information about potential complications of anything I'm taking, I would hope they would share it with me. If there are tests that would help me watch out for those risks, all the better. Pointing out potential down sides and saying "don't do that" are two very different things to me when it comes to medical things.

    I hesitated before writing that last post, but I figured more information and a different perspective might help someone, and I would want to know. I feel like not all of us get taken seriously by our doctors about things like this until a definitively abnormal test result comes back. So I thought it might help to know how they approach this when it does. My levels tended to hover around 3.

    I do not gain any personal benefit if people here take less potassium, nor do I even necessarily think they should. I want them to be healthy and safe. That's all. No further ulterior motive. If I thought that people here might be thinking that low potassium was nothing to worry about, or that they should stay away from any potassium-rich things (because of adrenal issues, maybe? I don't know. Hypothetical reason X), I would have instead written up a post about how serious low potassium levels are and how prone we seem to be to them despite how rare that is in the general population. I think we need to be very careful with our potassium levels. I think that naturally, they will tend to be low.

    I do not understand how the aspirin statement relates. But for the record, I would advise being cautious and aware if taking large doses of aspirin as well. Nor would I advise large doses of barbituates or paralyzing agents. :) I mentioned the lethal injection because it had a strong impact on me and made me realize the importance of monitoring my levels and not taking larger doses casually. I know that kidneys are supposed to work great at all times. But so is the rest of my body. And it doesn't. So I'm careful. Too much potassium will stop your heart if it's not balanced out. So will too little. It's the ratio of electrolytes that keeps that muscle beating. I'm not advocating either more or less. I'm just advocating being careful with both sides. I think that's probably wise with any of the supplements we're taking.

    I think this is maybe the gist of what I am trying to say in this long and way too rambling way (because that's really the only way I can type these days - brain does not like editing):

    I certainly wouldn't put it past drug companies to push one way or another for profit. But again, I'm not saying "ignore your potassium levels". And I'm not saying "take supplements and die". I'm saying "hey - if you're going to take a really large supplement dose, you may want to be aware that high potassium is just as dangerous as low potassium, and consequently monitor your levels" or at worst "hey - if you're having gastro-intestinal distress from those pills, you might want to consider food sources like potato skin or beans or what have you if you can tolerate those, since we all seem to be unusually prone to problems with our gastric and esophogeal lining anyway."

    I don't think it's 'false information' to say that there are dangers to high potassium any more than I think it's false to say there are dangers to too little. But either way, the post was my experiences and perspective, and you are most welcome to ignore them. I would encourage everyone to treat them with a grain of salt and do their own investigating, as I would encourage them to do with everything any of us post here.

    Then yes, you would have hated both my GP and the kidney specialist I was subsequently sent to. But I would disagree with you. I probably shouldn't bother with what is about to turn into a huge aside, but I feel compelled to defend my doctors here, as I think they were in the right (and doctors get enough of a hard time here for other things, including from myself). I've had plenty of issues with certain doctors over the years, but this wasn't one of them. So here are the details fo the situation, as I understand them. Hypokalemia is extremely rare in the general population, because if the kidneys are functioning properly, they should be able to take even the tiniest intake of potassium and hold onto it enough to keep the body's electrolytes in balance. That's part of what they're designed for. And since potassium is present in significant amounts in tons of different foods, it's exceedingly rare that someone with any kind of normal diet would have a low enough intake that the kidneys couldn't balance it out and keep blood levels somewhere within the normal range. So the first line of defense was to suggest that I increase my intake of potassium rich foods and get retested. I am pleased that my doctor didn't leap right for the prescription pad. And when she did feel the need to add a supplement, it was a very small one. This makes sense. At the time, I was presenting with hypokalemia with no known cause, and it wasn't yet low enough to be at immediate life threatening levels. Which (since I had already established that I did not have chronic diarrhea, diuretic use, or vomiting) for "normal" people pretty much means that either I wasn't getting enough food sources (which is unlikely), or that something was wrong with my kidneys. If the problem was food, food would solve it. And if the problem was that something had gone wrong with my kidneys, giving me a large and unbalanced dose of potassium would be a truly terrible idea. So instead I was given one small supplement (which, if everything was functioning normally, should have been plenty for the kidneys to work with at least temporarily), and went through more extensive testing to check on the function of my kidneys, aldosterone, etc. to try to pinpoint the reason behind the low levels. Eventually they went back up to normal on their own, and my kidneys came back normal, so they just suggested frequent monitoring to make sure that things stayed within a healthy range. Because low potassium is dangerous.

    I don't want to war with you, because I really don't think we're on different sides here. But seriously, "if this is true"? I'm a bed bound ME patient. I've got enough things in my life to worry about without fabricating a medical history to post on the web.

    Sorry for any animosity.
    ahimsa likes this.
  2. aquariusgirl

    aquariusgirl Senior Member

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    yeah, the animosity on this thread is getting really old. I appreciate all the good info and cautions about deficiency & how to treat. I don't appreciate people who keep chiming in to cheer on people who they feel support their position. & are really just personalising the whole issue. C'mon. So annoying & trivialising.
    LaurieL and madietodd like this.
  3. Adster

    Adster Senior Member

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    Group hug? Anyone? :hug:
  4. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Sure Adster... I'm in for the hug. :hug:
  5. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Another potassium update: Just for the record, I had a very nasty stomach flu for 3 days and threw up most of what I ate and drank on Monday and Tuesday. The only thing I could keep down was ginger tea and coconut water, which I was able to sip on throughout the day, and which has 790 mg of K and 50 mg of Na, plus a bit of other trace minerals/can. I was also using magnesium oil a couple times/day, which is a transdermal form, because I knew if I swallowed a mag pill it would come right back up.

    Yesterday (Wednesday) I drank 5 cans of coconut water, with only minimal vomiting, so my guess is I got most of the 3950 mg of the K in it. I had no problem with this amount of K. I was also using mag oil and a pinch of salt in each cup of my ginger tea.

    The coconut water remains to be a very good source of the K for me. My only complaint is that it is EXPENSIVE.
  6. Sparrow

    Sparrow Senior Member

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    I apologize for the long post. I probably shouldn't have responded. I know nobody else wants to sift through that. Felt really personally attacked by the statements made, and sorely misinterpreted, but probably should have just let it go and walked away.

    Stress, conflict, and typing are all super hard on me physically anyway. It was foolish of me on that front too, and I will likely be paying for it far longer than it was worth.

    I would happily hug you all.
  7. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    No need for apology, Sparrow. I understand how you feel. Hugs to you. :hug:
  8. aquariusgirl

    aquariusgirl Senior Member

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    I didn't have a problem with your post sparrow. I find your contributions helpful. I am interested in this topic for an elderly parent also who has major heart issues.(arrythymias, weak spells etc). I'm glad I didn't just tell her to take a whole bunch of potassium.... I think it might have finished her off!

    Imagine trying to explain that to the rest of the family "I was just trying to help!"

    I think she needs the stuff... but clearly in someone as sick as my mom, you have to be careful about the dosing.
  9. adreno

    adreno 3% neanderthal

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    You might want to look into taurine and arginine for treatment of arrhythmia.

    Elimination of cardiac arrhythmias using oral taurine with L-arginine with case histories:

    http://george-eby-research.com/html/taurine-l-arginine-arrhythmias.html
  10. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Hi aquariusgirl--

    A couple years ago, due to doctor error, I ended up with some nasty cardiac arrhythmias. This was caused by taking too much iodine, which this doctor had prescribed for me, which over-stimulated my thyroid and caused my heart to beat irregularly and race. I was left to figure out what was wrong, and how to treat it, because the (idiot) doctor could not and did not. I found the most helpful things were: magnesium, fish oil, hawthorne berry and acupuncture. I found some good info about arrhythmias on Ray Sahelian's site. I thought I'd pass it along. Of course, potassium is also helpful for healthy heart rhythm, but the magnesium helped me a lot.

    http://www.raysahelian.com/atrialfibrillation.html
  11. Rosebud Dairy

    Rosebud Dairy Senior Member

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    I have to add a huge thumbs up for the coconut water. Seems to be about the safest way to get the potassium boost after a heavy cycle, and it does NOT irritate the stomach like some supplements can. I prefer to get nutrition through food (ha ha, will that ever be the case with metafolin?), and not a pill, and this is one thing where the food way really shines!

    I think I found some on Amazon Warehouse deals lots cheaper than anywhere else.
  12. leela

    leela Slow But Hopeful

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    Hi DB--

    I confess to not having read the entire thread, sorry :Retro redface:
    But since I recently decided I can't take this low blood volume business any more, I went back in my archives to
    find the Hydralyte homebrew recipe.
    http://www.dfwcfids.org/healing/gokhmbrw.htm

    If you read the Preload and Chronobiology sections, it *might* (and I only say might, I have no clue) explain why you felt so crappy after suddenly changing your supplement means and dosage, and then lying down.

    Just a thought. ope it's useful.:hug:
  13. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Hi leela--

    You're right... you didn't read the entire thread, and maybe not even the initial post. ;):angel:

    I'm better from that now anyway, and have figured it out already. Thanks anyway.
  14. leela

    leela Slow But Hopeful

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    Well, I did read the initial post, it just seemed to tie in with my last few days of dealing with K/Na balance as it pertains to LBV, (a different issue I know). I had been unaware of how it could f%&k a person up to load before bed,(which I noticed you did with the K anyway) so I thought I would add my 2, even if they were in foreign currency. ;)

    I am just wondering if some of the sensations people are attributing to potassium is actually a ratio thing, and/or having to do with this cortisol/aldosterone business due to "accidental" volume loading.

    I know, I know I'm off on a tangent. I *am* a tangent.
  15. aquariusgirl

    aquariusgirl Senior Member

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    thanks for the notes on what can help arrythmias..I'll check it all out...
  16. aquariusgirl

    aquariusgirl Senior Member

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    the coconut water is begining to look like a cost effective way of getting potassium and some other electrolytes. i just paid $9 at walmart for 4 packets of pedialyte....not cheap!
  17. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    For those who can tolerate nightshades and carbs, potatoes are the cheapest food source of potassium I found. 202g of potato (with skin) has 1081mg potassium.

    I can't eat potatoes very often, but sweet potato is very high (146g has 694mg potassium) and white beans also look good (1c, 262g, 1189mg potassium).

    The highest green by far is boiled, drained spinach, at 830mg potassium per cup. Of course, that's a lot of spinach.
  18. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Good to hear about the K in sweet potatoes. I eat those often. Though the coconut water remains the most convenient source.
  19. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    I bought coconut water to have around in case of stomach flus, thanks to this discussion. I realized I'd rather re-hydrate with coconut than pedialyte any day! But for the amount of potassium I need, it's too high in carbs.
  20. greenshots

    greenshots Senior Member

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    I think the key here is moderation. You don't have to be on the supplements when you already have a good source of potassium. I know that it can be scary hearing stories about going to the ER, etc., but its best not to be reactionary about these things. If your doing things to prevent low potassium, like coconut water and other food sources, you won't run as much risk with low levels upon start up. Its a balance, and too much in either direction can be serious.

    Angela

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