The Power of Potassium

We’ve talked about several different minerals in past blog entries. Potassium is the mineral of choice for this week’s post for several reasons, and it’s a mineral that people with kidney problems should be sure to pay close attention to.


What potassium does in the body

First, let’s explore what potassium does in the body. This mineral is often referred to as an “electrolyte.” Electrolytes are electrically charged particles, called ions, which our cells use to maintain voltage across our cell membranes and carry electrical impulses, such as nerve impulses, to other cells. (Bet you didn’t think you had all this electrical activity in your body, did you?) Some of the main electrolytes in our bodies, besides potassium, are sodium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium. Your kidneys help regulate the amount of electrolytes in the body.

Potassium’s job is to help nerve conduction, help regulate your heartbeat, and help your muscles contract. It also works to maintain proper fluid balance between your cells and body fluids. The body is a fine-tuned machine in that, as long as it’s healthy and functioning properly, things will work as they should. This means that, as long as your kidneys are working up to par, they’ll regulate the amount of potassium that your body needs. However, people with diabetes who have kidney disease need to be especially careful of their potassium intake, as levels can get too high in the body when the kidneys don’t work as they should. Too much potassium is just as dangerous as too little.

Your physician can measure the amount of potassium in your blood with a simple blood test. A normal, or “safe” level of potassium is between 3.7 and 5.2 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). Levels below or above this range are a cause for concern.

Causes of low potassium levels

Low potassium levels (hypokalemia) may be due to something as relatively simple as dehydration from excessive sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea, or to something more serious such as an adrenal gland problem, cystic fibrosis, or severe burns, for example. Low levels can also result from taking diuretics or from malnutrition.

Causes of high potassium levels

High potassium levels (hyperkalemia) often result from kidney damage. Kidney damage is usually due to poorly controlled diabetes, and is considered a major complication of diabetes (it’s often referred to as diabetic kidney disease, or diabetic nephropathy). High potassium can also occur if someone has had diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a serious metabolic condition more commonly seen in people with Type 1 diabetes. Heart attack, injuries, infections, overuse of potassium supplements, and use of ACE inhibitor drugs may also lead to high potassium levels. Too much potassium, by the way, can lead to weakness, paralysis, irregular heartbeat, or even a heart attack.

Strategies for dealing with high potassium levels

If you have diabetic kidney disease and your potassium levels are high (above 5.2), your health-care provider will likely recommend you cut down on how much potassium you get in your diet. Foods high in potassium include bananas, cantaloupe, potatoes, tomatoes, and legumes, for example. It’s not that you can no longer eat these foods, but you’ll need to watch your portions of them and not eat them too often. In addition, you shouldn’t use salt substitutes or take potassium supplements unless otherwise advised by your health-care provider. Meeting with a dietitian is extremely helpful, as he or she can help you develop a low-potassium meal plan and provide you with helpful tips to make things easier. If your potassium level is very high (over 6.0), your physician may recommend a medicine, such as sodium polystyrene sulfonate (brand names Kayexalate and Kionex), which helps remove potassium from the body. Diuretics can also help lower potassium levels.

Talk to your health-care provider if you have any concerns about your blood potassium level or the health of your kidneys in general. Do the best you can to keep your HbA1c level below 7%, and be sure to get your microalbumin level (a test for urine protein that detects kidney damage) checked every year. Diabetic kidney problems can be prevented or slowed if caught early on.

Interested in learning more about diabetes and kidney disease? Read “Ten Things to Know About Kidney Disease” and “Kidney Disease: Your Seven-Step Plan for Prevention,” by certified diabetes educator Amy Campbell.

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  • Timtam

    Hello Amy, I just had to write and thank you for all the unbiased useful information you guys shower me with. Keep up the good work and thank you so much.

  • scared

    I am wondering if someone can let me know what happens when you are told that your potassium is way high, and you already have kidney failure and diabetes, and high cholestrol and high blood pressure?

  • acampbell

    Dear scared,

    I can certainly understand why you might be feeling scared. Having kidney failure and high blood pressure, on top of having diabetes, is bound to be overwhelming and confusing. The first thing I’d recommend is to talk to your doctor as soon as possible about your high potassium level. This needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Also, if you’re not already working with one, ask your doctor for a referral to a kidney doctor, or nephrologist. And at the same time, see if you can get an appointment with a renal dietitian. You need a team who understands diabetes and kidney disease. They can help you with meal planning and medication management specifically geared towards your kidney health. Check out the National Kidney Foundation’s website, too at for more help and support. There may even be a local affiliate in your area.

  • Tired of being Fat

    Hello, I am 28 years old and I am 330 pounds. I have a really hard time sticking to a diet and exercise, I just seem tired all the time, all I want to do is sleep or just sit down. They say my thyroid is fine. You have any suggestions?

  • taruna


  • acampbell

    Hi taruna,
    This is really a question for your primary care provider. The answer depends on so many factors, such as the extent of your kidney failure, other health issues you may have, and other medications that you take. It’s beyond my scope to adequately answer you. Many medications, including diuretics and diabetes pills can affect your kidneys, so you need to talk with your physician about what’s safe for you to take. Also, consider talking with your pharmacist, too, as they truly are medication experts.

  • bfox

    i am a diabetic whom works outside. the heat gets to me. i sweat a lot. i cramp every day as long as the temp is over 60 degrees. i have spoke to my doctor and he can give me something but doesnt really want to go there because my kidneys have no problem. my wife bought me potassium pills to take 1 a day. but i am wondering how much potassium is in 1 banana and if that is the way i should go.

    thanks if you answer me back

  • acampbell

    Hi Bud,

    Did your physician tell you to increase your potassium intake? Sometimes cramps can be due to deficiencies of other nutrients, too, such as magnesium. The recommended intake for potassium is at least 3500 mg per day (assuming your kidneys are in good health!). A banana has 422 mg of potassium, while a sweet potato has almost 700 mg. Check out this listing for more information on food sources. It’s probably best to avoid taking potassium pills unless your physician prescribes them, since you don’t want to end up taking too much potassium. Aim to get your needs met through food sources as much as possible.

  • bf

    My mom passed away from too high potassium – I suggest any one that has diabetes, heart problems or any signs of diarehea be checked.


  • 4justin5

    Hi bf,

    Do you know what her level was and for how long? I’ve just been dignosed with High Postassium and mine is 5.6

  • Paige Christine

    3500mg of potassium a day is not an easy number to hit. How common is the “too high potassium” level reaction for people who are not taking supplementation? It seems if a person is attempting to consume potassium through diet alone most people are nowhere near the 3500mg mark. Are people with diabetes perhaps more responsive to postassium intake and therefore should be taking in less than a person without diabetes? I know it all comes down to the proper testing, but I’m a personal trainer with several diabetic clients that all seem to be being told something very different from their physicians. If its been confirmed that a person is taking in proper amounts of H20, Magnesium, & Calcium, but experiences muscle cramping during physical activity can the next logical concern be proper potassium levels? Just looking for some insight in on the topic.
    Thank you

  • acampbell

    Hi Paige,
    Thanks for your comments. While we know not everyone always eats a “balanced” diet every day, it definitely is possible to meet the daily potassium requirements through food sources, especially if you’re consuming several servings of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and milk/yogurt each day. Some people may need more potassium if they have certain gastrointestinal conditions, if their blood glucose levels have been running high for a while, or if they take certain types of diuretics. Others may need less potassium if they have kidney disease. So, the need for potassium can vary from person to person, which is why people do need to check with their healthcare provider. Unless kidney disease is present, most people will not get too much potassium from food sources, but they may if they take supplements. It’s logical to assume cramping can occur due to lack of potassium, but then again, cramping might be due to decreased circulation and/or peripheral arterial disease, as well, particularly if the cramping occurs consistently.

  • thinthin

    I have Diabetes and eat bananas every day.Is there any danger of suffering a serious reaction because I eat them so much?
    Thank you.

  • acampbell

    Hi thinthin,
    There’s no problem with eating bananas every day, assuming your kidneys are in good health and that you aren’t allergic to them. You’d have to eat about 8 bananas a day to reach the daily goal for potassium. The main thing is to make sure that the bananas fit into your meal plan or into your carbohydrate goals for your meals and snacks. If you’re constantly snacking on bananas, it’s likely to affect your blood glucose levels. One medium, 7-inch banana contains close to 30 grams of carbohydrate, so this needs to be considered as part of your carb allotment for the day.

  • John

    This is the first time I’ve visited your web site which I think is excellent. I also have diabetes and spend a lot of time on the Internet reading different articles. One of the web sites I visit frequently is the National Institutes of Health web site which has a list of foods high in potassium. In it I discovered that 1 ounce of avocado contains 180 mg of potassium. This was a blessing for me because I was concerned about the carbs in bananas (which I enjoy very much but only when my BG reading is low). Perhaps thinthin should switch from bananas to avocados to get his potassium. Another web site I discovered was the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. On their page ‘Micronutrient Requirements for Older Adults (>50 years)’ they recommend 4,700 mg/day of potassium. I weighed the avocados I bought and they average 6 ounces which gives me about 1,080 mg of potassium. I can make up the rest with a combination of potassium-rich foods and supplements.

    Keep up the good work!

  • acampell

    Hi John,
    I’m glad to hear that you like the website! Thanks for sharing the info about avocados. Just a word of caution, though – while they are a great source of potassium, a whole (6 ounce)avocado also contains 320 calories, 16 grams of carb and about 30 grams of fat!

  • kumar


    Good article. However, I read that potassium levels can also be affected by more insulin levels as insulin causes transcellular shift of potassium from ECF to ICF as indictedon Insulin-wikipedia:-
    [Insulin]”Increased potassium uptake – forces cells to absorb serum potassium; lack of insulin inhibits absorption. Thus lowers potassium levels in blood.
    Arterial muscle tone – forces arterial wall muscle to relax, increasing blood flow, especially in micro arteries; lack of insulin reduces flow by allowing these muscles to contract.”

    Under above consideration, can you also tell about impact of insulin, insulin resistance & hyperglycemia on potassium levels? Regards. Kumar

  • acampbell

    Hi Kumar,
    Thanks for the feedback. Insulin does a lot more than just move glucose into cells; it also helps move potassium, magnesium and phosphate ions, as well. Insulin and potassium have a feedback mechanism, so that if, for example, blood levels of potassium get too high, insulin is released from the beta cells to help lower the levels. There is some indication that people who have metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes have a low level of potassium in their cells. Other research shows that a diet rich in high-potassium foods helped reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes. And yet another study showed that people with adrenal gland disorder were more likely to have lower potassium levels and more insulin resistance than in those without the disorder. The speculation is that potassium deficiency may play a role in the development of metabolic syndrome, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

  • lmatt

    Thank you for all of your information on potassium and how it works with the body. I have been on diuretics for the past 7 years and understand I need to have either a banana a day or drink orange juice to maintain a healthy level of potassium. But since taking diuretics I have had leg cramps, muscle spasms, sciatic pain etc. I had started taking calcium and magnesium supplements that helped for a while, but after reading many publications I believe my potassium level is low, so I took just one potassium supplement and can say that the muscle cramps and spasms were not experienced today. I will be seeing my doctor in about a month and it is procedure to have labs done before the visit. I did ask my Dr. to add a potassium reading with the next labs, so I will know for sure if my levels are low until then. I feel really good today and don’t want to harm myself. would taking one potassium supplement a week be harmful?

  • acampbell

    Hi lmatt,

    Generally, it’s not a good idea to take potassium supplements without first consulting with your physician. However, taking one potassium tablet per week is probably okay. Check to see how much potassium is in one tablet, and also think about how much potassium you might be getting in your food (see an earlier posting with a link to food sources)to make sure you’re not taking in too much. Remember that the goal is 3500 mg of potassium per day. And when you see your doctor next month, let him know that you’re taking potassium. Stop taking the supplement and call your doctor right away if you have any side effects, such as fatigue, weakness, irregular heartbeat or shortness of breath.

  • Lmatt

    Thank you for your response. I did review your list of potassium rich foods and I can honestly say that the only food product that I may have often would be Tomato juice/V8 juice, and that may not be daily. I can see that I am probably getting about 1000 mg’s a day. I am not a milk drinker and the suppliment is only 565 mg. I must testify that by taking the potassium yesterday I did not encounter any muscle spasms/cramps or muscle fatigue. I will be sure to tell my doctor about taking the suppliment. I will also review the food items and try to work in potassium rich foods to my diet. I will limit myself to one potassium suppliment a week and get my labs done soon.

  • maya

    wow i love this web site!it was helpful. thank you

  • Lidija

    I take teveten for high blood pressure and it says not to take potassium supplements. Can you please tell me how much potassium is too much for me, ie can I have the soups and bananas and panadol?

  • acampbell

    Hi Lidija,

    Teveten is a type of medication, called an angiotensin II receptor blocker, or ARB, for short. It helps to lower blood pressure and may help slow the progression of kidney disease, as well. If you take this medication, you shouldn’t take over the counter potassium pills, or supplements, or use salt substitutes that contain potassium. However, you can still eat foods that contain potassium, including bananas and potatoes as long as your kidneys are healthy. If you have kidney problems, you may need to limit your potassium intake, and you should ask your doctor about how much potassium you can have.

  • Brenda

    My husband had a scare last night.

    He is not on any medicine for diabetes, but from time to time his blood sugar will elevate.

    Last night, he came in, was very thirsty and got a drink out of the frig (Mountain Dew/total sugar) and went outside and drank it.

    Almost immediately, he lost his balance, had a headache and was sick to his stomach. His blood pressure was very high. He took a nitro pill and the blood pressure went down. He does have problems with his blood pressure every now and then and does take medicine for that.

    I tried to get him to go to the hospital, he’s stubborn and he would not go.

    This morning his balance is fine, his blood pressure is ok, but still alittle high, but his blood sugar was 348.

    I am scared as I feel he could have a stoke at any time.

    How do you lower blood sugar other than using medicine?

    Any help would be appreciated.


  • acampbell

    Hi Brenda,
    I can certainly understand your concern. It sounds like there are two situations for which he should seek medical attention sooner rather than later: his blood pressure and his diabetes. Regarding his diabetes, it’s very likely that he will need a medication, given the blood sugar of 348. However, it’s important to look at his overall diabetes control and that means finding out what his hemoglobin A1C is. The A1C goal for most people with diabetes is less than 7%. Weight loss, a healthy eating plan and physical activity can all help lower blood glucose, but there often comes a time when medication is needed, as the pancreas eventually stops making sufficient insulin. Let your husband know that you’re concerned and perhaps show him some reading material on diabetes and A1C. Also encourage him to make an appointment with his provider to discuss both his blood pressure and diabetes control.

  • getten

    Just checked this web site great information.I’d love to get some answers to my problems if I may.

    here goes, How much pottasium, phophorus, can I consume in a day?

    Since going on a renal diet I’ve gained a lot of weight, at present 220 I’m 5’2″ I ‘m not doing it any more since 3 days now.

    My fasting sugars used to be between 4-6 and now are 11.5, creatinine is 203, eFGR is 22, Urate is 426, Hemoglobin A1C is 0.005, I a mess I’m trying to control my blood sugars with herbs and spices
    I’m not on any meds since the last 3 days I go for another blood work in 3 weeks, may I keep you posted The herbs and spices I’m having are fenugreek, cinnamon, Bitter melon.
    I sure appreciate your web site and thank you for reading my e=mail I’m 74 years old.

  • acampbell

    Hi getten,
    I’m glad to hear that you find this Web site helpful! Unfortunately, I really can’t give you specific advice on your diet – only your physician and dietitian can. However, it does appear that your blood glucose levels are running a little on the high side. I’m not sure I understand what your A1C level is, though. Also, your kidney function tests are not where they should be, either. Please reconsider taking your diabetes medications. Herbs and spices aren’t proven treatments for diabetes and it’s difficult to determine just how much of them you’d really need for glucose control. Also, I’d strongly suggest you see a dietitian for a renal diet that will help you reach a healthy weight. Your physician should be able to give you a referral. I’d be happy to hear how you’re doing after your appointment in three weeks.

  • getten

    Thanks Amy, for your prompt reply, I’ll sure keep in touch.


  • ladylove

    iam 69 y.o and last apr1 was dx with type 2 dm. ht:5’6″” 184 lbs
    i now walk 2&1/2 miles winter and 5 summer. current wt 154
    jan 8th was seen by md k+ 5.9,na148,HbA1c 6.4,ldl101.
    i am on no meds except ca with vit d and the diabetic vit/mineral packs sold in 30 day supply. my dr said this is find. i was eating bananas with cherrios 4-5 days a wk but stopped.
    i eat grapefruit and unsweeten strawberries mixed for snack everyday. i have been using salt sense for years. any advice as to what i need to do to lower ldl and k+. this is a great reference site and i have informed my diabetic friends.

  • acampbell

    Hi ladylove,

    Congratulations on all your hard work – it’s certainly paid off! To lower your LDL, make sure you’re cutting way back on saturated and trans fat, and focusing more on heart healthy fats, such as olive, canola and peanut oils. Fit in more soluble fiber, especially from oatmeal and beans. It’s important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, but you should talk with your doctor as to why your potassium level is high. Check out this list of the potassium level in various foods:
    It’s not a bad idea to meet with a dietitian to review your eating plan and discuss additional ways to lower your LDL and potassium, too.

  • srp1942

    I am diabetic and take avandamet(4/500).Recently had kidney stone which turned out to be calcium oxalate one.I know potassium citrate can help but is it the right way?Can i take potassium citrate on a on going way.?

  • acampbell

    Hi srp1942,
    I checked with a nephrologist and he said that potassium citrate is most definitely used to treat calcium oxalate stones. Some people do stay on this medication as long as urine citrate levels are low (this needs to be checked at your physician’s office). However, your best bet is to talk with your physician about this and the best way to manage your kidney stones (hopefully you don’t have any more!).

  • bgl

    I really have enjoyed your website- I have been taking Lisinopril since Nov for high blood pressure- the dosage is 20mg- the blood pressure is down-but I am still very fatiqued,a little short of breath- I am not sure who I would call my regular physician or my cardiology phy- I am wondering if lower the dosage might help- I have to take it at night since it makes me very tired-

  • acampbell

    Hi bgl,

    Glad you like the website! I would suggest you call whomever prescribed the lisinopril for you. Either that, or call your primary care physician and find out what he or she would recommend. He can always refer you to your cardiologist, if necessary.

  • marcelle

    I have recently been in hospital tested for Cushings Syndrome. The tests proved negative. I still have a lipoma growth on either side of the neck/shoulder.Four years ago I had an very large one removed from my arm. I know to keep an eye on these as I don’t want them to get out of hand like my arm. My steroid levels were not quite as bad as the doctors originally thought. However my potassium levels are consistant at around 5.5 so I am having another blood test. I have diabetes type 2, since leaving hospital the levels have been up and down, I don’t feel well & know I am not eating properly. Today my level was 13.5. I am on anti depressants and when I am particularly down eat very little.I suffer from Pernicious Anaemia, Gastritis,Asthma. I have liver disease, alcohol related, and kidney disease.I have B12 injections every two months. The diet sheet I have from the doctor seems to cut out all the veg & fruit I eat for my diabetes, and I thought I was doing very well to eat a good 5 a day.My gall bladder was removed 18 months ago.I will go for my blood test tomorrow & they will be back the next day, should I mention my bloods being so inconsistant to my doctor when I ring? He has mentioned that if my potassium levels go up to 6.5 he will take me into hospital for glucose or something, which confuses me with diabetes ? thank you. What a brilliant site this is by the way.

  • acampbell

    Hi marcelle,

    Sounds like you have a lot going on! Yes, you should mention your potassium levels to your doctor. Also, it’s possible that, when potassium levels go too high, that you would be given IV glucose. This helps to stimulate the release of insulin, which, in turn, helps move potassium from your blood into your cells. But you should discuss this with your doctor. Also, I’d recommend that you meet with a dietitian to discuss a lower potassium diet. You can still eat fruits and vegetables, but you may need to choose those that are lower in potassium.

  • madhavan

    I just had a blood test and the potassium level is found to be 5.6.
    The glucose level is seen to be normal.
    Should I be concerned with the potassium
    level? I will appreciate your reponse.


  • acampbell

    Hi Madhavan,

    Your potassium level is a little high (normal is usually about 3.7 to 5 or 5.2). I’d suggest you speak to your doctor about your level and discuss reasons why it’s on the high side, and what you can do about it. High potassium levels can result from any number of situations, such as kidney damage, certain medications, potassium supplements, heart attack, injury, infection…so you should find out what’s happening.

  • ldavidson28

    i am 28 yrs old and have been hypoglycemic since i was a child, and have not had to check my sugar with a meter before until about 6 mos. ago. my blood glucose is low usually in the 70-100 range and my potassium level has been tested twice this week. the first time it was 5.3 and the second time was 5.0. I do not eat bananas or many other high potassium items. i am really new to my diabetes and am still trying to learn all the ins and outs. should i be concerned? and what should i expect to come of this? please help me to understand what is going on with my body?

  • acampbell

    Hi ldavidson28,

    I’m not sure I can fully explain your situation, since a few things are a little unclear: Were you diagnosed with diabetes just recently? What was the reason for having your potassium measured in the first place? Do you have any issues with your kidneys? There’s certainly a lot to learn when you have diabetes, so my main advice is to ask your physician for a referral to a diabetes program or a diabetes educator. I’d also ask your physician about your potassium level; it’s actually not that high, but it’s running on the high end of normal and perhaps there’s an underlying reason for that.

  • Brownie

    My husband has recently been in the hospital due to high potassium level. He had been on blood pressure medication since the seventies, most recently(Diovan)but the Dr. took him off blood pressure medication all together. Blood work was done again yesterday with a reading of 5.3 two weeks ago it was 6.1. He has been eating hardly anything trying to not get any potassium. He is down to 120 pounds and this self imposed diet is killing him. How much potassium should he be getting at this point and will he always have to eat low potassium?
    Wonderful web site!!!!!!!!

  • acampbell

    Hi Brownie,
    I’m afraid I don’t know enough about your husband’s situation to give you a good answer. Does your husband have kidney disease or another medical condition that is causing his high potassium levels? Has his doctor evaluated him for other possible causes? Some people obviously do need to follow a low potassium diet, but not so low that it’s leading to too much weight loss and possible malnutrition. If you haven’t done so already, please talk with his doctor about his nutritional status and ask for a referral to a dietitian who can provide suggestions on ways to beef up his calories without increasing his potassium intake.

  • baljit gill

    thank you for all that information!
    i did not know that some of these fruits were so high in potassium, i ate them everyday, and i have diabetes!this blog was very useful and incredibly informational!

  • Bobbi

    My husband has T2 diabetes, high blood pressure, produces uric acid kidney stones and just recently was told to reduce his potassium intake. I was doing fine with recipes up until the addition of the low potassium. It seems that just about everything that we have been eating to keep the the diabetes, high blood pressure and uric acid in check is high in potassium…HELP! I am at a loss on what to make for dinners that are interesting and flavorfull.

  • acampbell

    Hi Bobbi,

    It can certainly be challenging to plan meals when there are so many restrictions. My first suggestion is for you and your husband to meet with a dietitian who can give some advice and more specific guidance on meal planning, including how much potassium to aim for. And second, while you didn’t mention if your husband has kidney disease or not, here are links to two Web sites that provide a variety of recipes that are low in potassium and sodium:

    You might also make a trip to your local bookstore or visit a Web site such as, as there are plenty of cookbooks aimed at people who need restrict their potassium intake.

  • Bob Long

    High Blood Pressure – Under control
    Kidneys on their way out.
    Bypass Surgery
    High A1C
    Now high potassium – 5.9 Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate 4tsp daily dropped pot to 4.1 in four days. Quit taking, Doc says it will go back up. Hope not with diet et al.
    Diabetes Type II 26 years-now aged 72. Doctors have done a great job.
    Insulin 70/30 now 62 – 60 units twice daily.
    Weight 6 yrs 135 to 204 now down to 194 lbs. No more diabetes pills just insulin.
    Balancing act insulin-food intake hard due to sugar lows but trying to reduce wt. Smoked 50 yrs. copd. Just a mess. ha
    Just found ur site. Love it for the knowledge it imparts to me finally. Bob Long

  • acampbell

    Hi Bob,

    I’m glad this site has been helpful to you! Sounds like you’re on the right track — you’ve lost weight, your potassium has come down… small steps add up to big changes. Thanks for sharing!



  • acampbell

    Hi Mike,

    Not being a doctor, I’m not really the best person to ask, and I can’t advise you on your Toprol dose. However, Toprol can raise potassium levels. Is your primary-care physician responsible for monitoring your potassium levels? Since it’s always good for your health-care team to communicate with each other, you might either ask your cardiologist to let your PCP know of plans to increase the dosage or call your PCP and let him know.

  • Dianne Astle

    Over the years I have been told my potassium level was low and I needed to eat bananas. The past six months it has become a problem. The last measure was 2.8. I have been eating a banana every day and mostly taking, but sometimes forgetting a potassium suppliment 8meq. I am on a diuretic (Apo Amilizide) and it seems to suggest the only side effect is the possibility of high potassium. Recently there has been blood in the urine and leukocytes, but no postive test for infection. It seems to me that there might be a link between the blood in the urine and the low potassium levels, but have no idea what it would be. So far doctors are suggesting urinary tract infection, but it seems to be a dead end and does not explain why I should have low potassium. Any ideas that you can share? A complicating factor is that my doctor has left the country recently. So I will be starting over with a new one.

  • acampbell

    Hi Dianne,

    Low potassium (hypokalemia) can result from a number of different conditions, including vomiting, diarrhea, use of laxatives, colon polyps, Cushings syndrome, high levels of aldosterone (a type of hormone), and some medicines (diuretics, prednisone). So you really need a medical evaluation to see what the cause is. Hopefully your new physician will order the right tests for you. In the meantime, keep taking your potassium supplement as directed!

  • Jackie

    what foods have low potassium in them? Thanks,Jackie

  • acampbell

    Hi Jackie,

    Actually, a lot of foods are fairly low in potassium, including: apples, blueberries, watermelon, grapes, cherries, cabbage, cucumber, cauliflower, green beans, peppers, bread, rice, and pasta. Here’s a list of low potassium fruits and vegetables:

    If you think you need to limit your potassium intake for any reason, please talk to your doctor and/or ask a dietitian for a more complete listing of foods.

  • Dianne Astle

    Thank you for your response. I am just reading it now. (July) I am going to have the possibility of polyps checked out as colon cancer runs in my family. Otherwise I do not have any real answers as to why the potassium would be low. None of the normal things that cause low potassium seem to apply to me. I am now on a drug called Amiloride for high blood pressure which has helped. The warning on the label printed large is the danger of high potassium. Even with the change in medication I have to be very intentional about my intake of potassium. An internist I saw made the assumption without talking to me that my diet must be inadequate when he could find no other reason. At the time I was eating a very healthy diet with two bananas a day and two potassium suppliments as well as other fruits and vegetables. The good news is that with adequate potassium in my system I am feeling much better, but I would still like answers.

  • Dianne Astle

    I just wanted to add this information which is more on topic. When my potassium was low, my diabetes was not in control. There would be no apparent connection between what I ate and how high my blood sugar was. Now that my potassium is higher the diabetes is behaving itself. In fact, I have been able to cut the metformin in half and maintain my blood sugars at a good level if I eat reasonably responsibly.

  • Glory Mendez

    just got a call from the clinic where i go telling me to go to the emergency soon as possible, took a bloodtest yesterday and my potassium is high. I also have sirossis of the liver and diabetes, problem is i don’t drive and have no ride and I feel fine. they ran down the symptoms i could get, but so far feel none of them. threw away the bananas and reading labels off everything I eat….. am i taking a big risk not going to the emergency room? My next follow up is next week Wednesday…. I was feeling just fine and now they got me scared.

  • acampbell

    Hi Glory,

    My suggestion is to go to the emergency room, as your clinic instructed. Too much potassium can be dangerous to your heart, even if you don’t have any symptoms. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Perhaps a friend or neighbor can drive you?

  • jeni

    my dad is 47 years old. he is a diabetic patient. for past 1 year he had symptoms like vomiting 20 times a day,nausea,loss of appetite,burning sensation while passing urine. 2times he was admitted in hospital. every time doctors say tat he has bacterial infection. after clearing infection they discharges my dad. he will be fine for a month, and again vomiting and all tat will come again. recently 2 weeks back v took a blood test and he result was:
    doctor is not saying anything..he gave tablets like,
    patocid ,levoflaxin…and now k stall to reduce potassium
    wat is the risk??? major problem?? v r very poor…couldnt meet hospital charges also…say us a way…pls..

  • acampbell

    Hi jeni,

    It sounds like your father is having a very hard time. I’m not a doctor, so I really can’t say what’s going on with him. However, based on the lab results that you report, his creatinine and potassium are quite high and could be a sign of some kidney problems. I’d encourage you to talk to his doctor again or, if that doesn’t help, see if there’s another doctor that could help him. Is there a free or low cost health clinic that you could take him to?

  • jeni

    thanks for ur reply acampbell…
    v r a christian….
    have asked a priest to help us….
    will inform u wat happens…
    thanks a lot friend…

  • Janey

    Had a blood test for potassium levels which came back totally normal. However, was told that my blood sugar level was 155!! Two months prior, was totally normal.

    What do you make of this? Can potassium level be normal and still be diabetic?

  • acampbell

    Hi Janey,

    For the most part, blood glucose and potassium are not closely related unless you have kidney disease or unless glucose levels are extremely high. So, it’s entirely possible and completely normal for potassium to be normal and blood glucose to be high. That being said, if this is the first time that your blood glucose reading has been high, ask your physician to do a fasting blood test to determine if you have diabetes or prediabetes.

  • Janey

    Thanks for your response. I guess my next question is – is it possible to have a “spike” in blood sugar like the 155 and still not be pre diabetic or diabetic?

  • acampbell

    Hi Janey,

    Yes, your blood glucose could spike up to 155 and then drop back down to a “normal” level. The question is: At what time of day was your glucose 155? If it was measured fasting, first thing in the morning, then it could be indicative of diabetes. But a 2–3 hour post-meal glucose of 155 doesn’t necessarily indicate diabetes, although it could indicate prediabetes, for example. Again, the best thing to do is to ask your physician to be checked for diabetes by getting a fasting glucose checked at the lab, or have an oral glucose tolerance test done.

  • Janey

    Thank you for your help and information. I have had a fasting glucose test which came back 5.9%. My blood sugar was 96. I was told that this was in the normal range. I will continue with my increase in exercise and watching my diet.

  • Vanessa

    When I have my blood panels done to monitor my high cholesterol my potassium levels are always above 5.2 and listed as high but my primary care providers (military doctors) never mention the significance or insignificance of this to me. I was wondering if these consistently high potassium numbers could account for my excessive thirst, frequent urination and constant need to move my lower extremities (RLS?)as well as my feeling of “bloating”. Any insight is appreciated.

  • acampbell

    Hi Vanessa,

    The question is: How high is your potassium? If it’s 5.3, for example, and that’s what it generally is when it’s measured, it may be a “normal” level for you and perhaps that’s why your doctors don’t feel the need to mention it. So, you should ask your doctor a) what exactly your potassium level is and b) is the level a cause for concern. As I’ve written above, too high or too low of a potassium level can be dangerous. Symptoms of high potassium include heart rhythm abnormalities, weakness, nausea, fatigue, tingling, and sometimes even paralysis (in extreme cases). I’m not aware that thirst and bloating are symptoms of high potassium. You don’t mention if you have diabetes, but thirst and frequent urination are typical signs of high blood glucose. Also, ask your doctor to check your kidney function, as well.

  • Maria

    I have a chronic renal failure secondary to diabetic nephropathy and the result of my potassium level is 4.97 mmol/L. Is it still normal or is it already high because i have a diabetic kidney disease? what are your recommendations?

  • acampbell

    Hi Maria,

    Your potassium level is still within a “safe” or “normal” range, despite your kidney disease. However, it’s always best to check with your doctor about your own target goals.


    Hi Amy,thank you very much for all the hard work you do. It’s got to be a labor of love. I enjoy studying also. The more I learn the more I realize how endless all the information is. I spent 1 night and 2 days in the hospital with a friend. She called me into the bathroom as she was passing out. She went out in about 10 seconds after I got there and I leaned her on the shower door to get the phone to call 911. They did a Traponan(an enzyme to check for heart damage) and it was elevated. Normal is under .06 and hers was .78. The echo cardiogram wasn’t normal either.I asked the E.R doctor if she had a heart attack and he said yes. They rushed her in for a cathader.It was clear. She didn’t have any clogs in her heart. My brother being a doctor wanted them to do a Caradid Doppler (to see if her caradid artery is clear) That was clear to. Her pottasium was 2.7. They diagnosed her with, believe it or not”Broken Heart syndrome”!! Ok I am a novice at this but why not discuss the low pottasium?? We told them that she never smoked,drank,eats very healthy. She’s 46 year old, normal weight,excercises regularly and takes no medications, that she passed out and was experiencing tingling in her hands during the episode. She was dry heaving and very hot to the touch. She hadn’t had breakfast yet and her blood sugar was 101 during the episode. Her blood pressure was 105/70 in the ambulance. Which is low for her especially under these conditions. After doing very little research and stumbling on this site I am dumb founded that they didn’t put more emphasis on her low pottasium!!! what do you think? Sorry my spelling is off on the medical terms.

  • acampbell

    Hi Laurie,

    Thank you for your kind words! I hope your friend is recovering nicely. I’m not that familiar with broken heart syndrome, although I do know that the symptoms are very similar to those of a heart attack. The difference is that the heart muscle cells don’t die during broken heart syndrome. I’m wondering if her doctor gave her any potassium while she was in the ER? Hopefully she is going to follow up with her primary-care doctor or cardiologist; she should ask about her potassium level at that visit. I’m sorry that I don’t know more about this condition, though.

  • worried

    I had a blood test and they claimed my potassium was to high. It was 5.8 and they wanted to test it again. So this time they said it was normal. Is that ok? I have been a diabetic for close to 20 years type 1. Very poor controlled have sugar reading of close too three hundred on most days. So what I was wondering is if that high potassium test is something to worry about? Like a warning that the kidneys are going? Currently I am already fighting diabetic neuropothy and diabetic retinopothy. Should I have the doctor keep a check on my potassium? I go to her again in December.

  • acampbell

    Hi worried,

    Fortunately, your potassium level has come down from 5.8 But you should ask your doctor why your potassium was high before. I’d also suggest that you ask your doctor about your kidneys and have her check your microalbumin and another measure called estimated GFR. Find out if these have been measured before (they likely have) and ask your doctor to explain the results. She may advise you to have these tests repeated, depending on if and when you last had them done.

  • jeetz

    Hi Amy Campbell

    Why diebetic patient cannot take potassium?

  • acampbell

    Hi jeetz,

    It’s not that people with diabetes can’t take potassium (and I assume you mean potassium supplements). Sometimes people with diabetes also have kidney problems and if that’s the case, taking in too much potassium can be harmful. And it’s also possible that a person with diabetes may not know if they have kidney problems or not, so to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking potassium or any dietary supplement.

  • tracey

    my daughter is 13 years old and has had a blood test and they have found high sugar levels and potassium levels of 6.38 and her blood pressure is up also, i dont seem to be gettin any answers they just keep sending us for blood tests, she also had an ECG and was told there was irregulatries but told nothing more than that, should i be worried? what sort of questions should i be asking the Gp as i dont seem to get any answers, other than occosional diorehha she seems fine in herself.

  • acampbell

    Hi tracey,

    Other than telling you that your daughter’s blood glucose is high, has anyone mentioned or suspected that she may have diabetes? I’m not a doctor, but I would ask her doctor if she may have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes (depending on how high her blood glucose was and if any symptoms are present, such as thirst, weight loss and/or frequent urination).

  • cheryl

    I have been researching high blood sugar and low potassium for my sister who is 58 years of age with rheumatoid arthritis of 20 years and is presently taking methadone to manage pain. In the past, she gave herself mexotrexate once a week for two years. Congestive heart failure for two years and diabetes for the past 5 months. She is still trying to control the blood sugars. She takes aldane twice aday and 18 units of lantus at night to control blood sugars. Her potassium level is 1.5 and has been taking potassium supplements for about a month with no change is potassium levels. She developed little bumps on her forehead that is sore feeling. She visists the doctor once a week. Any suggestions would be helpful to get her sugars down and potassium up. She does have trouble with kidneys functioning properly. A problem for some unknown reason in the past couple of years she has had kidney test performed and they have been as low as 20% and the have picked up to 100%. She had a shunt placed in her arm in case she has to have dialysis. She is depressed about her health and the doctor does not seem to be taking her health seriously. Please give me some advice.

  • acampbell

    Hi cheryl,

    I’m not a doctor so I really can’t give you medical advice. However, your sister’s low potassium level is concerning. It seems like she could benefit from a second opinion, and possibly a consultation with a nephrologist (kidney doctor), especially since you feel that her current doctor is not “taking her health seriously.” Also, you don’t mention what her blood glucose levels are like, but it may be that either her Lantus dose isn’t enough or that she also needs meal-time insulin. So, my advice is to request referrals to a nephrologist and an endocrinologist.

  • Fran

    I have had alot of problems with potassium levels mostly low and then it will be ok for awhile after I take potassium for a while so I will stop and low and behold I start to get pins and needles all over my body and fast heart beat I just want to be normal I also get sick from the sun when I am low Im afraid most of the time and my doctor thinks Im crazy when I tell him of my symtoms Any advise I am also on a water pill and Im not over weight HELP

  • acampbell

    Hi Fran,

    It sounds like you’re struggling a bit with your low potassium levels. Have you asked your doctor if this is caused by your water pill? If you’re not getting the answers that you need from your doctor, is there another doctor that you could go to for a second opinion?

  • Becky

    Hi, I am type 1 diabetic, and have had it for goping on 9 years now. I have suffered from ketonacidosis(not sure of the spelling) at least 3 times in the past 9 yeasr. The first was almost fatal. I have been trying to manage my diabetes the best i can but still 9 years on i cant get the hang of it. I have recently had a blood test and my HBA1c is 10.7 and i have to go back as i have something wrong woth my potassium levels. What i do not yet know.
    I have been feeling very sleepy recently and weak. I get short of breathe easily and i not over weight, im 10st3lbs and im 5ft6. im really concerened that ive done some serious damage to my kidneys as they have been hurting/aching for a few weeks now nut i just put that down as back ache. Can you please help me as im very scared i may have gone past the point of no return with my heath. Im 27 years of age and have 3 beautiful children. I dont want to end up on dialysis or even dead.

    please can you help.

  • acampbell

    Hi Becky,

    It sounds like you’ve been going through a lot recently and you need help getting your diabetes back on track. You don’t mention if you have an endocrinologist (diabetes doctor) or not. I would definitely encourage you to meet with an endo, as well as a diabetes educator. Your primary-care physician should be able to refer you to one, you can contact your local hospital or medical center, or you can contact the American Diabetes Association to find endocrinologists in your area (visit Don’t hesitate to do this so you can get the help you need and get your diabetes under better control. Let us know how you make out.

  • JD

    I had a 5.7 potassium level recently and two months ago 5.6 then went back had 4.3. Now i have to go back for this 5.7. They say it can be a lab error? I take a multi vitiam with potassium aand have bannanas and organges. Should I stop those?

  • acampbell

    Hi JD,

    It’s possible that the 5.7 is due to a lab error.Did you doctor talk to you about your potassium at all? You could cut back on your potassium intake somewhat and see if that makes a difference the next time you get it checked. But in the meantime, I’d suggest you give your doctor a call to discuss possible reasons for the high levels.

  • Sheilah

    My husband is a diabetic, high blood pressure, diabetic neuropathy, and on March 23rd of this year had his right kidney removed due to a large renal mass. Now his blood sugar level is running around 106. No matter if it’s fasting of not. He’s not taking diabetes meds anymore. His potassium is running high. 2 weeks ago it was 6.5, then 4 days later it was 5.9, then 4 days later it was 5.7. He goes in tomorrow for more blood work to check his potassium. He is a disabled vet. and is afraid he’ll loose part of his pay because of his blood sugar levels reading normal. But, since he was told how high his potassium is he’s been eating only “low potassium” foods, and very little of that! He is loosing weight. Do you think his diabetes has gone away? Can it go away? Sometimes he starts feeling numb around his mouth and his arms and legs get very weak. Blood sugar will be low (for him) 100-90s, but if he eats something he will feel better. We need advice please!

  • acampbell

    Hi Sheilah,

    Your husband very likely still has diabetes, as diabetes doesn’t go away. However, because he only has one kidney, it’s possibly affecting how his own insulin works in his body, along with how his potassium levels are regulated. I strongly suggest that he meet with his doctor who should assess his medical condition and his labs and discuss proper treatment with him.

  • Glenda James

    Just want to say what a wonderful kidneys are not in the best condition and i have learned so much from this site..thank you keep up the good work..

  • kareen


    for some time my sister has been poorly. She has diabetes and now has low potassium . For the past week she has been sick, a little confused, slurred speech (on&off) and has been falling over. She also takes tablets for her heart. I live in Northern Ireland and she is in Scotland. Her daughter actually only told me tonight how bad her mum is and the doctor gave her tablets for the low potassium but im am gravely worried that she will either fall into a diabetic coma or have heart failure or a stroke.. all three are hereditary in my family…
    should i call a doctor ??

  • karen Tiley

    My brother recently had his second pancreas transplant(ten days ago). He is type one diabetic and also has level three kidney failure. He has just been rushed into hospital with high potassium level and now needs to go back to the transplant hospital. What are the implications of this?

  • acampbell

    Hi kareen,

    Please ask your sister’s daughter to take your sister to her doctor or to the hospital. Slurred speech and falling over could signal a stroke or something else that requires medical attention. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

  • acampbell

    Hi karen,

    High potassium levels can sometimes occur as a result of anti-rejection medicines that are given after a transplant. High potassium levels are serious and must be treated promptly, as they can lead to an irregular heartbeat and even a heart attack. I’m assuming that your brother’s transplant team is taking steps to correct this and wants to monitor him closely in the hospital.

  • Katy Johnson

    My husband who is diabetic was recently hospitalized because he could no long stand or walk. His heart rate dropped to 26 at times and was usually between 30-45. He had an extremely high potassium level (8.2) He is fine now, but his potassium has gone up 3 or 4 times since being dismissed from the hospital. The hospital took him off Zestril because they thought that was causing the high potassium levels. The tests show his kidneys are fine. Is there a specific kind of specialist he should see it his potassium levels continue to go up?

  • acampbell

    Hi Katy,

    Your husband’s primary-care doctor or endocrinologist (if he has one) should be able to to monitor his potassium levels.

  • Felistas

    What are the effects of increasing potassium concentration on diabetes

  • acampbell

    Hi Felistas,

    If your question is: does potassium affect blood glucose levels, the answer is no. But, if you have kidney problems as a result of your diabetes, eating too much potassium can be harmful.

  • Russ

    ive been diabetic since 2001 im over weight i have nourapathy i take alot of insulin 5 shots a sugar is un-controlable (sadley)i fight pain every day i know most of my pain comes from the nourapthy.cramping tingling stinging pain.i take nurontin333 i also take lasix 1 a day n potassium 1 a day taken this small amount i hope iam going to be okay anyways love the site it’s nice to see someone do this kinda of thing God Bless

  • acampbell

    Hi Russ,

    I hope you will be OK, as well. You might ask your doctor about taking alpha lipoic acid for your neuropathy. It’s been helpful for some people and it’s used quite a bit in Europe. Also, if you haven’t done so already, think about having a few appointments with a diabetes educator (your doctor can refer you) who can help you with your eating plan and your blood glucose levels.

  • Grace

    My husband lost one kidney due to cancer. He is doing fine. No high BP. His potassium always runs a little high. Is this common with the loss of one kidney? He is checked every 6 months by doctor and oncologist. They just keep checking and rechecking his levels

  • acampbell

    Hi Grace,

    No, it’s not necessarily common to have high potassium levels due to having just one kidney. Hopefully your husband has asked his medical team about why his potassium levels are running high. It may be a high level of “normal” but it would be good for him to find this out. It’s also very important that your husband have regular kidney fuction tests, which he most likely is doing, to ensure that his kidney stays as healthy as possible.

  • Terri

    I just had my blood tested and they said my potassium level was slightly low (3.4) so the Dr put me on klor-con 10meq and I was wondering if since it was only slightly low could I fix it by eating more potassium rich foods?

  • acampbell

    Hi Terri,

    It’s certainly possible that you could increase your potassium levels with food. You might ask him or her if you could try doing this, although there may be a reason as to why he prescribed a potassium supplement for you.

  • Susan Sudderth

    I know that potassium can lower uric acid levels. But I’d like to know if uric acid has any effect at all on potassium levels? I can’t seem to find any information on this subject. Thank you for your help.

  • acampbell

    Hi Susan,

    To the best of my knowledge, I believe that it’s potassium that affects uric acid levels, and not the other way around. It’s best if you ask your doctor about this, however, if you have a particular concern about this. I wish I could be of more help to you.

  • Ruth Holton

    I just received the results from the lab. work I recently had done by my Dr.(Rountine Chemistry) All test were in safe rage except potassium–6.0 and Bun/Creat Ratio–29 –WHAT COULD CAUSE this problem – have not had this problem before.

  • acampbell

    Hi Ruth,

    There could be a number of reasons for these higher values, including different types of kidney disease or urinary tract obstruction, for example. But it’s best to speak to your doctor and he or she can recommend further testing, if needed.

  • Anmol Saxena


    I have gone through your website and found that alot of hard work has been invested by the team working for this awareness, HIGHLY Appreciate your dedication.

    My mother who is 62 yrs having High BP and High Sugar level for past 15 yrs, where as her Hba1c now has been reported 6.9 and her BP is also quite normal. She had UTI infection 3yrs back which stayed for nearly an year, during which she had an episode of Hypoglycemia and to maintain her blood sugar she was on insulin for 10 months.

    Unfortunately, her BP went up to 200+/100 2 months back and her was reported for Hyperkalemia at 6.9. Now after a treatment of 1+month, Serum Potassium is stagnant at 5.5-5.7, but in the mean time her Serum Creatinine is gradually increasing from 1.3 to 2.0. This gradual increase of S.Creatinine has been noticed only now, previously her S.Creatinine level was in the range. There are no physical symptoms reported by her. She had been strictly on Lowest Potassium Diet for past 1 month and none of her drug is having any potassium supplement. I am very much worried now, because i am totally stuck up with this and couldn’t found any way out to reduce this potassium level.

    I’ll be greatly thankful to you & your team if you all can shower some knowledge on this.

    Anmol Saxena.

  • acampbell

    Hi Anmol,

    As a reminder, I’m not a doctor, but given your mother’s high potassium and creatinine levels, has she been checked for diabetic kidney disease? Normal creatinine levels for women usually range from 0.4 to 1.0 mg/dl. If her levels have been increasing, as you say, it could be that she has some underlying kidney disorder, whether it’s due to her diabetes, high blood pressure, an infection, dehydration, gout, or some other issue. Talk to her doctor about getting further tests done to help determine what’s going on, including a microalbumin and estimated GFR test.



  • acampbell

    Hi Christopher,

    I have no explanation for you — but thankfully you came through it and hopefully you’re doing well now!

  • Irene

    I have recently been diagnosed with mucosal pemphigoid. I am a Type 1 diabetic also. My last A1C was 7.1. I am generally healthy and relatively active–except my gums are a complete mess. I work very hard at controlling my blood sugars. If it is suggested to go on a systemic steroid treatment, should I? I hate the thought of my blood sugars being more difficult to control, the inevitable weight gain, and all the other side effects. Is there anything else I could do to avoid this auto-immune condition from messing things up?

  • acampbell

    Hi Irene,

    I’d suggest that you first ask your treating physician what the treatment options are for this condition. I’m really not familiar with mucosal pemphigoid, but I’ve read that a medicine called rituximab has been used with success. If steroid treatment is the best option, work closely with your diabetes educator and endocrinologist to fine-tune your treatment plan (including insulin, carbohydrate intake, and physical activity) to help minimize any possible side effects.

  • mayra

    I found this very helpful and also I am learning lots about diabetes. In my family history there are diabetics and recently we have lost one of our members because of diabetes. I wanted to understand why consuming alot of potassium can be harmful to diabetics.

  • acampbell

    Thanks, mayra. I’m glad you’ve found this site to be helpful. Consuming a lot of potassium isn’t always harmful to people with diabetes. In fact, getting a reasonable amount of potassium in your diet is helpful in controlling blood pressure. However, if you have kidney disease or have had a heart attack, your doctor may advise you to cut back on eating high potassium foods.

  • scareddaughter

    my dad is 60 years old, a type one diabetic, has had both legs amputated, multiple heart attacks and was just diagnosed with high potassium levels after his most recent heart attack. I am so scared to lose him. My mom said he may have to go on dialysis eventually. I am a type one also and he is the only other person i am close to that can relate to me when i talk with him about my diabetes. Plus, he’s my dad. I love him so much and i hate that he’s going through all this. He’s really scared right now. Is there anything i can do for him or anything else i should know or be conscious of with his condition? Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  • acampbell

    Hi scareddaughter,

    You and your father are lucky to have each other! It’s understandable that you want to do all that you can to help him. Since it sounds like you and he share a lot in terms of your diabetes, you might first ask him how you can best help him. Maybe he’d like you to go with him to his doctor’s appointments, for example. Or, ask him if seeing a mental health professional might help him with his (and your) fears. Talk with his doctor (with your dad’s permission) about the issue of his high potassium and find out how that best can be treated. He likely will need to limit how much potassium he eats, so you can help make sure that he has the right foods available. Don’t forget to take good care of yourself, too, as your dad very likely wants you to live a healthy life with diabetes.

  • Paula

    My mother is 82 years old, her doctor increased her diabetic medication (metformin) back in September. She had severe diahrrea from this and did not tell anyone for 5 months. When she did finally tell her doctor her potassium levels were very low they put her on liquid potassium. She was slurring her words and very disoriented. She went to the Dr. and they sent her to the hospital. She was there for 3 days having tests they did find a blockage in her carotid artery. They had her on IV potassium while in the hospital. When they discharged her they did not prescribe any potassium. Now 3 days later she is having muscle twitches and slurred speach again. Could all this be caused from low potassium or are these the symptoms of the blocked artery?

  • acampbell

    Hi Paula,

    It’s certainly possible that her muscle twitches are due to low potassium, as potassium is needed for muscles to contract properly. I’m not sure about the slurred speech, though. You should definitely call her doctor (if you haven’t already) ASAP and let him/her know about your mother’s symptoms.

  • Eryka

    I have been on a roller coaster every day for over 2 years now trying to achieve stability in blood sugar, insulin, iron and potassium levels.
    I was very healthy prior to this hitting at age 29 two years ago. It started with potassium dropping and this keeps occurring month after month and some times many times in the month to the point that it debilitates and affects me physiologically, emotionally and psychologically. Really messes around with my system. Also day to day I battle as every two hours my sugar drops to about 4 at which point I suffer severe neurological symptoms and have to keep eating low glycemic index foods and most occasions needing a fast supply of sugar to help me normalise. My diet is exceptional. It has been checked by many dieticians and it is basically like a diabetics diet. All LOW GI foods, fresh home made and controlled in carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
    Still this has not stabalised me so I am constantly dizzy, foggy brained, vision impaired, sometime to the point of feeling drunk. This happens daily so you can imagine how taxing it is on my on many levels.
    They have found I produce excess insulin and this forces my sugar down. But they fail to tell me why and what can be done to help this process.
    Diet and exercise is the only way I have been self managing but this has not helped in the 2 years. I am concerned as I need to get back to life and also I am very eager to avoid Diabetes as they are telling me it is pre-diabetes related. The irony is that if I was critically diabetic I would have more stability than I do now. I don’t feel this is the case. Especially because I am convinced there is some endocronological mechanism that is not operating correctly which probably lead to the potassium wasting and then triggered this hypoglycemic episodes shortly after.
    I feel that if I allow my sugar to plummet then shortly after this my potassium also drops. There must be a relationship.
    I really have exhausted all avenues and so I am hope to reach out to the wider world that may be able to shed some light.

  • Mary

    It seems like the symptoms of high and low potassium are pretty much the same. Without a blood test how can you tell the difference? Is there a symptom that could tell them apart?

  • acampbell

    Hi Mary,

    You’re correct: too high and too low blood potassium levels share some similar symptoms, such as weakness, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. High potassium may lead to nausea and vomiting, and low potassium may cause constipation and confusion. But rather than trying to second guess if your potassium is too high or too low, or if something else is causing your symptoms, call your your physician and leave the diagnosis to him.

  • Angie

    I have had diabetes type 2 for 6 years. My kidneys have always been 100%, but 2 weeks ago, I was told my potassium is raised, and I had to have a second test and go for the results in a few days.

    The nurse said my kidney function is fine. I have also got high hemoglobin, which I often have, but my doctor doesn’t know why. It goes up and down.

    I’m scared about my potassium level, although I wasn’t told what it was. I want to know that if it has gone back to normal, will this mean I haven’t kidney disease, or can it go up and down with kidney disease?


  • cinnamaw

    I’ve been type 1 diabetic for 54 years. I was just diagnosed with stage 3 kidney failure.I’m on 25 mg.s lasix once a day. As far as I know I have no heart issues but my legs and ankles stay swollen. I keep thinking it may be because I need full knee replacements in both legs. I don’t know for sure but from everything I’ve read it seems kidney failure can cause heart problems. Is this a common problem resulting from kidney failure? Someone please answer soon. I feel like I’m all alone in this one!

  • acampbell

    Hi Angie,

    Wait and see what your latest potassium results are, and talk to your doctor about why they were elevated. Having a high potassium level does not necessarily mean that you have issues with your kidneys, but you should certainly discuss possible causes with your health-care team.

  • acampbell

    Hi cinnamaw,

    There is a link between heart disease and kidney failure, but it’s also highly possible that your swollen legs and ankles are due mostly to your kidney disease. You may need a higher or different dose of your medication. Please talk to your doctor about this. Also, if you haven’t done so already, ask your doctor for a referral to a kidney doctor (called a nephrologist). For more information about kidney disease, check out the National Kidney Foundation’s Web site at

  • Marisol

    What a wonderful website! I appreciate all the responses and good advice. I’am a healthy 69 year old – and weigh 170 at 5’9. I also exercize regularly and feel fine and energetic. I go for routine checks ups once a year. My last fasting blood test showed glucose levels of 110 and potassium levels of 5.7. For the potassium, the doctor suggested a second test a month away. I’ll do that, and understand I also should lose weight (it’s already happening!) to lessen the potential of future diabetes. What I find puzzling is that the proper diet changes (to lower both) seem contradictory. What is good for one goal is not advisable for the other!!! At this point, absent the results for the second K test, I’m just eating my normal well-rounded diet in smaller portions and cutting out sugar and sweet things, and eating fewer high-potassium foods. It’s working for the weight loss goal and, inevitably, I also think I’m getting less potassium that way. My question: What is the chance of my four cups of black coffee before the fasting blood test (which I was told I was allowed) having skewed the K and glucose readings? I have since read that coffee has potassium, and some studies (Duke U) indicate caffeine also raises blood sugar levels immediately after consumption? Thanks.

  • acampbell

    Hi Marisol,

    I’m so glad that you’ve found this site to be helpful. Congratulations on making lifestyle changes, as well. As far as your coffee goes, 1 cup of coffee contains about 116 milligrams of potassium. And in some people caffeine can affect blood glucose levels. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t drink coffee again, but when you are fasting for a blood test, for the most accurate results, the only beverage you should drink is water.

  • Marisol

    Thank you so much! Weight loss continues apace, although I’m finding it a juggling act to lower carbs and potassium AND still consume a well-rounded diet. A bit of a chanllenge. 🙂 Thanks again. Marisol

  • Jhon India

    Hai Amy,

    Thanks fr such nice work. I was referring your article for my mother who has been recently admitted in hospital due to increase in Potassium level. She is also suffering from diabetes and was earlier having deficiency in sodium level . when she started taking more sodium salts i guess she faced this problem.

    Your suggestion are quiet valuable please continue with your work.

  • Marisol

    Hi Amy,

    UPDATE: Well, well well…I just want to let everyone know my good news. Two days ago I had a repeat blood test for potassium, but they ended up submitting the sample to a full metabolic test. I was worried about the potassium result more than anything.

    From a pottasium reading of 5.7 on December 28, it came down to 3.7! Hemolysis was probably the cause for the previous higher reading.

    From a glucose reading of 110 on December 28, it came down to 80. Sugar and carbs are now under control.

    ALL I did was to embark on a consciencious effort to lose some weight, watching my carbs intake and controlling portions size. Not sure how much I’ve lost but it must be in the vicinity of 5 pounds. I don’t have a reliable scale at home, just a pair of old jeans I use as “indicator”.My goal is to lose 15 more but for now I’m delighted at the improvement on both blood readings.

    Thanks for a wonderful forum, Amy! It helped me a lot. Marisol

  • mrh

    Amy: Thank you for this site. My recent blood test showed a 5.6 Potassium Level. None of my other core Kidney/Liver tests showed anything out of range. My doctor said I am not anemic and do not have a Thyroid problem. My cholestorol was slightly elevated at 144 and My Vitamin D was low/18 and prescribed a 50,000iu supplement. I do have a history of alcohol abuse which I stopped a week ago. Although, I eat a 1,600 – 2,000 calorie/day healthy diet (only the drinking was unhealthy). I am also thin and exercise a few times per week. I did have high blood pressure and sleepless nights when I had my blood test a week ago, but feeling better now. I was told to retake my Blood Test for Potassium. I know from reading your site, this is common. I was not told to fast (although I should have) and ate an english muffin with margarine, 4 little dried cranberries and 2 glasses of water before I had my test which was 2 hours later). Do you think this will effect the Potassium Test? Either way, any thoughts on my condition. Thanks!

  • acampbell

    Hi mrh,

    Wait and see what your potassium level comes back as. Alcohol may affect your potassium level, as could your diet. If the level is still on the high side, make sure you discuss this with your doctor and find out possible causes and whether you should cut back on your potassium intake from food sources.

  • acampbell

    Hi Marisol,

    That’s great news! Keep up the good work!

  • Ananth

    During a routine exam my Potassium level was found to be 6.0.I am diabetic,under control,last four Hb AIC being less than seven.Microalbuminuria six months ago was within limits.I take Ace Inhibitor and I ghave stoped it after the 6.0 Potassium reading as I understand it could adversely affect Potassium in blood.

    (a) I want to repeat the test.How many days should I wait After stopping Ace Inhibitor before I get a blood test done.

    (b) Am I taking a risk by not rushing to emergency immediatly after finding Potassium level at 6.0

    (c) I generally do Hb AIC test for diabetes every three months.Last twelve readings have been below 7.That being the case,should I be concerned about occsiomal hikes of Post prandial to 220.Fasting generally at 95

  • acampbell

    Hi Ananth,

    These are great questions, but you should ask your doctor, as I cannot provide you with medical advice. That being said, I checked with a pharmacist with whom I work, and she said it could take several weeks for potassium levels to return to normal after stopping an ACE inhibitor. (By the way, it’s always best to check with your doctor before discontinuing any medication). A blood potassium of 6.0 is moderately high and you should ask your doctor about appropriate treatment. Hopefully, he would have give you proper guidance after finding out the result of your blood test. As far as your occasional postprandial glucose readings of up to 220 — that’s normal. What’s most important is that your A1C levels have been below 7% (which is the goal for most people with diabetes), and as long as you are not having frequent low blood glucose levels, as well, it’s OK to have the occasional spike in blood glucoses every now and then.

  • jessica

    im 17 and I am wondering if someone can let me know what happens when you are told that your potassium is slightly on borderline ?

  • Ananth

    Further to my earlier posting when I reported that my pottassium level was 6,I stopped the Ace inhibitor for one week and took the reading again.I was happy to find that it had dropped down to 5.3

    Though it is pleasing note the reduction, 5.3 is marginally high.And I will repeat the test after a month.
    Besides taking care to see that I avoid heavy potassium food like Banana,is there anything else that I must do?Do I need to go a nephrologist? My microalbuminuria was fine last time.
    Another thig I must mention is that my Potaasium level has never been below 5.

  • acampbell

    Hi Ananth,

    Good to see that your potassium level dropped! Other than limiting your intake of high potassium foods, you might also check with your doctor or pharmacist about any other medicines that you take that could also be causing a higher potassium level. You should ask your doctor about possible seeing a nephrologist if the high potassium level persists.

  • acampbell

    Hi jessica,

    You should ask your doctor about this. It’s also a good idea to get your potassium level rechecked. Common causes of high potassium levels are kidney issues, infection or a burn, alcoholism, and taking certain medicines or potassium supplements.

  • Jimmy Fitzgerald

    I am diabetic and I recently have had problems keeping my blood sugar under control. The last A1C test came back at 9.1 and the doctor wants me to start taking insulin. I had not checked my blood sugar levels for at least a couple of years and have always depended on the A1C results. I stared checking a few days ago and seen the readings post meals run from 128 to 268. I have stopped eating most things with sugar and have limited meals to things like hotdogs with pinto beans and vegetable soup. Eating good foods with high fiber and low carbs has always kept my blood sugar levels under control in the past but not so this time. I take a 20MEQ potassium pill and 10 99mg pills every day and wonder if potassium is somehow causing my sugar levels to spike. I take 5 99mg pills morning and evening and the 20meq pill at lunch. I have been told the over the counter pills are not coated. Thanks for your time, I have enjoyed reading your web site .
    Jimmy Fitzgerald 3/24/13

  • Jimmy Fitzgerald

    Hi Amy,
    In the comments I posted on 3/24 I did not mention any reasons for taking so much potassium. I have had heart rhythm problems were mostly caused by low potassium levels. To get my levels up in the range of 4 or better I have had to take all of these potassium supplements in addition to what I eat to get it there. All of the A1C reports but one since I started doing this have come back in the range of 4.2 to 5.0. My cardiologist is aware that I take the over the counter pills and I just in the past couple of days sent him an email asking him to write a prescription for a 10MEQ and I would quit taking the over the counter potassium. Thanks I hope this clears up why I am taking so much.
    Jimmy Fitzgerald

  • acampbell

    Hi Jimmy,

    To my knowledge, potassium does not affect blood glucose levels. However, given that you are taking potassium supplements, you might ask your pharmacist about this. You mention that you have been limiting your sugar intake, and while that can be helpful, it’s important to keep in mind that any carbohydrate food, such as fruit, beans, bread, rice, or milk can raise blood glucose. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat them, but you do need to watch your portions. It’s also possible that your diabetes has changed over time and that can be unrelated to your food choices. Type 2 diabetes does progress. For this reason, it’s helpful to check your blood glucose levels, at least periodically, so that you can get a sense of what’s happening to your diabetes without having to wait for your A1C tests 2–4 times a year. Talk with your doctor about your diabetes, whether he thinks it may be progressing or if other factors may be contributing, and what your treatment options are (insulin, incretins, diabetes pills). Also, you might discuss your potassium supplement intake with your doctor, as well.

  • acampbell

    Thanks, Jimmy. It’s a bit of a puzzle to me, although when was your last A1C (before the 9.1) checked? Have you talked with your primary care physician about possible reasons?

  • Courtland

    I have to take 700 mg of potassium every day, I use food supp for that…if I don’t get enough potassium, I get a tingling feeling in my foot like I’m being electrocuted, and that last for 24 hours, like every 20 seconds a jolt, until the extra potassium kicks in…that means 1,000 mg that day….Have been doing this for several years, my doctors check the potassium levels in my blood once a year….I have type two diabetes…Some dr’s recommend up to 4,000 mg a day…and it affects the brain and the neurons, could affect depression, which I get periodically…just thought i would throw this out there, something for you guys to ponder….

  • Michelle

    Hi, my daughter is nearly five and just had a high potassium reading of 5.7 – docs have redone her bloods to check it again – but for 11 months she said her heart hurts – docs said this was nothing to worry about but after reading information about it I am worried. Is this very high for a little girl ? Michelle x

  • Barbara

    Last week I had blood work done. My kidney Dr. likes for me to do it before I see him. I had the bloodwork done right after seeing my cardiologist.He could see I wasn’t feeling well, so he was going to order a echo.I went about my buisness and was leaving Walmart when I got a call from the kidney Dr.saying I needed to go to the ER right away. My potassium was 1.3. I was admitted and stayed a couple of nights. It took that long before it was at least 3.5. The hospitalist told me I didn’t need diuretics or any other meds. I was taking. He said all my Dr.’s were “quaks” and I should just trust him. So now that I am home, I have pitted edema in my ankles and my blood glucose is 276 right now. This guy wouldn’t let me leave the hospital until I agreed to follow his advice. The other alternative was to go to a psycho ward for evaluation because I was confused in the ER. I intend to turn this guy in. Today is a holiday so I will do it tomorrow. This is the 2nd time my potassium dropped that low in a little more than a year.I don’t know why this happens but everyone seems so shocked when I walk in to the ER. What signs should alert me before my potassium get’s to “dead”

  • acampbell

    Hi Michelle,

    This is a question that is better suited for your daughter’s pediatrician. However, I believe that a child’s blood potassium level should be between 3.4 and 4.7, so yes, 5.7 is high. This should be addressed as soon as possible, as high potassium levels may lead to health issues, including kidney and heart problems. Chest pain is also a possible side effect of high potassium. Please take your daughter back to the doctor or to another doctor who can address this properly.

  • acampbell

    Hi Barbara,

    I’m sorry that you’ve had to go through that ordeal. My advice is to speak with either your primary-care doctor or your kidney doctor sooner rather than later about why your potassium has dropped so low and how this can be avoided in the future. You can be on alert for signs and symptoms of low potassium, which include palpitations, chest pain, weakness, feeling lightheaded or fainting, nausea, vomiting, urinating a lot, feeling very thirsty, and feeling confused or depressed. These can be signs of other health issues, but if they occur, you should let your doctor know.

  • Joe Davis

    I am a 30year old with type 2 diabetes. I take 70/30 twice a day an novologe at night.30 units each do I need to be taking potassium pills.

  • Floyd Cox

    I am a 74 year old male with kidney disease. My diagnosis is Fibrillary Glomerulonephritis. Over the last 2 years my potassium level has been high but holding at 5. now it has risen to 8 [very serious]. Of course we know that the many drugs I take for hypertension make my body retain potassium. I understand that dietary restrictions are needed. But I am now scared that I have reached the end of the road for fending off the kidney disease because of the heart related problems that can be from too high potassium. I have a regular doctor and a nephrologist and will see what they can do. Do you know of any medications that can safely be used to eliminate potassium from my body without further kidney damage? It is beginning to look like I am in a “catch 22′ situation. Any suggestions??
    Floyd Cox

  • acampbell

    Hi Floyd,

    Your nephrologist is the best person to advise you on the best way to treat your high potassium. There are medications that can lower potassium levels in the body. One class of these medications is called sodium polystyrene. Kayexelate and Kionex are two brand names of this drug. I don’t believe they affect the function of your kidneys, but that’s best answered by your doctor. Ask your nephrologist about whether either of these medicines would be appropriate for you.

  • Beilsy

    Hi Amy,
    My father is a CKD patient and stubbornly refusing to undergo dialysis treatment. The reason being 4 of our relatives didnt last long after they started dialysis. Yesterday his creatinine level was 14, potassium 5.6, urea 197. BP constantly lingering around 160/80. Heart beat between 49-55. He says i m ready to go. Doctor also says if dialysis is not the option then let him enjoy the last days with his family. But she refused to answer how long does he has. Being in India me and my siblings are employed in far off places. Getting leave 4 1 or 2 months is not possible. Dont know what to do. Even dont know how to elevate his discomfort while he is at home. Chronic cough, muscle cramps & pain, not feeling like to eat anything, breathlessness. We stand very helpless. Plz help. How to take care of him during his last days? These questions are very difficult to write but we need to prepare ourselves.

  • acampbell

    Hi Beilsy,

    It’s certainly a very difficult situation for you and your family. It’s also hard to convince someone that it is not the dialysis that killed his relatives but the renal disease itself. It’s important that your father understands that the dialysis is a way to get the waste out of his body, a job the kidneys can no longer do. Think of the waste like a pile of garbage and the dialysis like a garbage truck: if the garbage truck doesn’t take away the garbage then it will build up, smell, and cause infection, and all kinds of other problems. Dialysis takes the harmful waste (garbage) out of the bloo stream and removes it from the body. Hopefully your father’s doctor has explained exactly what dialysis does and that your father understands that what happened to his relatives does not have to happen to him. If he is going to a reputable dialysis center that uses sterile technique, then infections should not be an issue. Perhaps you can speak with his doctor to discuss how to best communicate this information. However, it’s your father’s decision. If he refuses, then hopefully someone close to him can arrange for hospice care or look into what kind of services are available for end stage kidney patients to keep them comfortable and free from pain. Again, speak to the doctor about this and come up with a plan to make sure that he gets the care he needs, no matter what his decision. Best wishes to you.

  • Beilsy

    Hi Amy,
    Thanks a lot for prompt reply. Please continue to do your good work. May God bless u all. Yes! we tried our best to communicate to my father what dialysis is. Infact three reputed nephrologist in three different cities tried their level best. Is there any medications or injections that help elevate the discomfort caused by fluid buildup.

  • acampbell

    Thank you, Beilsy. Diuretics, or water pills, are medications used to treat fluid buildup. Your father may be taking one already, but check with his doctor.

  • acampbell

    Hi Joe,

    Being on insulin doesn’t necessarily mean that you need extra potassium. So, I would answer no to your question. But if you think you need more potassium for some reason, discuss this with your doctor first before you take a supplement.

  • Gopal

    Hello Doctor,
    My father is 70 years old, his sugar level is 145 and potassium level 3. He is visiting doctor reguarly, I just want to know how concerning is this. Thanks

  • acampbell

    Hi Gopal,

    Your father’s potassium level is low. Low potassium may occur due to a number of different medical conditions and medications. You should make sure that this issue is addressed with his physician as both low and high potassium levels can be dangerous.

  • S. Morrow

    I was recently in the hospital. Dx: heart failure. BP: 200/107. I am type 2 diabetic. Sugar all over the place. Was placed on 80 mg of lasix. Caused dehydration. Taken off of metformin and lisinopril. Increased humalog injections and now on coreg 6.25. After rehydrated put back on 40 mg of lasix. Some kidney damage. I have been told to take 10 mg klor kon potassium. I lost 43 lbs in 3 weeks. 9 lbs was water weight. Sad, but I don’t have a lot of faith in my doctors. Do you think I would be okay taking 5 mg a day. I don’t want to make matters worse. Thanks for all of your help.

  • acampbell

    Hi S. Morrow,

    You’ve certainly been through a lot! I’m afraid I can’t advise you on your medicine dose as I am not a doctor. Even though you don’t seem to confident in your health-care team, please talk to your doctor about your question. It might be a good idea to ask for a referral to a kidney doctor, too. I wish I could be of more help.

  • shamsuddin osman

    Thans Amy,learn a lot from you and other people contracting diebets 2, high blood pressure.Recently i went to the opthomologist, do know spell correctly anyway in short eye specialist.after doing the preliminary check of the eye, they said they need do dilation of the vein in the eye.How is the process done.Thanking you in advance, Amy.

  • acampbell

    Hi Shamsuddin,

    I checked with one of the eye doctors where I work and he thinks that perhaps you misheard your eye doctor — he thinks you might be referring to a pupil dilation, not a vein dilation. A pupil dilation is a standard part of an eye exam for someone with diabetes. Please check with your own eye doctor to be sure you understand what he will be doing.

  • Elizabeth Shaw

    My 66 year old sister has episodes of total weakness in arms and legs when she can barely, move, speak or function. All blood tests, ECG have been normal when she has subsequently seen a doctor. Yesterday it happened again and I took her to the doctor a few hours after when she could move. He suggested low potassium could be a reason. After we left I wondered if the panadol osteo or panadol she takes daily for coccyx pain could be depleting her potassium levels. Is this a possibility? She weighs only 99lbs so perhaps regular 2 tablets are too much for her? She does not have diabetes.
    Thanks – weekend – no doctor available now.

  • acampbell

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I am not that familiar with Panadol, although I believe it’s pretty much the same thing as Tylenol. To my knowledge, neither of these drugs would cause low potassium. It’s likely that your sister’s low potassium is perhaps due to other medicines that she is taking or to a separate medical issue. Hopefully she has met with a doctor by now to get this straightened out.

  • Lisa

    I have been a Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetic for 42 years; fairly well controlled, A1c btwn 7.0 and 7.5. I am 53 years old, and am in otherwise good shape (no other illness or meds; just insulin). I often get toe cramps, sometimes my fingers/hand will cramp. I don’t drink as much water as I should (maybe 32 oz/day along with other fluids). I have a sedentary job, but am otherwise active. A potassium/magnesium supplement seems to make the cramps go away quickly. My bloodsugars run btwn 80-200 depending on day and time. Wondering if I should be doing something different to stop the cramping?

  • acampbell

    Hi Lisa,

    Cramps can be caused by a number of factors, including dehydration, lack of enough potassium and/or magnesium, poor circulation, pinched nerves, and even some medications. You probably should talk with your doctor about why you continue to get cramps and what you can do to stop them. In the meantime, try drinking more fluids (women need, on average, about 9 cups per day and men need about 13 cups). The fact that the potassium/magnesium supplement helps the cramps go away is a sign that you could be lacking in these two nutrients. However, you should be careful about taking this supplement without checking with your doctor, or at least letting him know so that you take a dose that’s safe for you. You can also try increasing your intake of foods high in potassium (beans, broccoli, bananas, yogurt, sweet potato) and magnesium (almonds, cashews, black beans, spinach, soymilk).

  • michelle

    I have been diabetic for 31yrs and a kidney transplant recipient for nine. I take lisinopril 10mg, anti-rejection medication as well as 6 magnesium pills a day,iron,clonodine,losartan (as well as some other medications), but no longer diuretics. I get so dehydrated at times that one or both of my legs will freeze up while sleeping so bad that if i even just stretch my legs it jolts me awake and my legs have to be massaged out and it is hard to walk for a while. I constantly feel thirsty and I usually feel very short of breath. I eat a diet of foods that are both high in potassium and magnesium and have to drink a bottle of electrolyte water every day as well as a banana every once in a while. Electrolyte water is expensive so i am trying to make my own. But there are several problems with this: 1Most recipes contain salt which is a problem (i am not even sweating). 2salt substitutes have (too much potassium). 3sugar has (too many carbs)also i have become sensitive/allergic to many foods and medications and cannot take things with alot of Gmo’s or chemicals in them. I found a recipe that calls for only baking soda, small amount of sea salt, sugar subsitute (i use stevia), water and sugar free flavoring(i just use lemon and lime juice). Is this sufficient? also is there possibly a medication i could be taking that could be causing things to get this bad? I also now have untreatable protein build -up in my body(because of my sensitivity)could this be the issue. any suggestions?

    s this sufficient to take care of the dehydration? Is sea salt better or is there a replacement for salt as my legs are very swollen already from apparently untreatable protein build up. is there a substtue for salt i can use. will sugar substitue do the job (i use stevia). is there a reason to use sugar free flavoring or is lemon lime okay?

  • acampbell

    Hi michelle,

    I think this is a question that is best asked of your physician and/or perhaps a pharmacist. From what I know about baking soda, it’s sometimes used to treat acidosis and by doing so, can lower potassium levels. Therefore, this may not be the best choice for you. You might ask your pharmacist about a compounding pharmacy that could recommend or create a electrolyte replacement for you that better meets your needs.

  • Constance

    I did not get a chance to read through the whole thread,so please forgive me if I am repetitive. However, I do have a question. My father is a diabetic as well as his mother and 2 brothers. My dads situation is a bit different then the average. Yes he is overweight, however, he is an amputee from quite a few years prior to being diagnosis. So he has one leg and a prosthetic. Still amazing might I add! More so now then ever he is experiencing horrid leg cramps. He drinks a lot more water now, (more now than before.) and yes he is outside a lot and I have considered dehydration. But I also considered Hypokalemia. Do you think that a potassium riched diet as well as supplements would help with the spasms as well maybe control blood sugar?



  • acampbell

    Hi Constance,

    There could be several causes of your father’s leg cramps, ranging from a deficiency in calcium, potassium, or magnesium to narrowing of the arteries in his leg to nerve compression. Suggest to your father that he see his doctor for an evaluation of his cramps and what the cause may be. Meanwhile, he can certainly eat foods rich in potassium but he should not take potassium supplements without checking with his doctor, first. Too much potassium can be just as harmful as too little.

  • acampbell

    Hi Denis J,

    Please have your wife see her doctor right away for her symptoms. Slurred speech may be a sign of a stroke, along with a number of other medical issues. Slurred speech can result from a number of medical issues, including stroke, speech disorders, and muscle disorders. I’m not aware of a link between potassium and speech; your wife’s potassium is on the high end of normal, as well. Make sure she sees or speaks with her doctor as soon as possible to address her symptoms.

  • Gurudatta K P

    Sir my age is 24. I’m suffering from Low Potassium level in my body. Today my body potassium level is 2.1 mMol/L. My hands and legs were not working, So I admitted hospital and they given KCl injection in sodium chloride injection IP. After some hours I gain potassium and totally recovered. Like this is happening since from 10 years. It’s happens in every 1 month or every 2month. The doctor said sweet should be avoid totally. And also there is no permanent treatment. Sir I request you sir please give me permanent treatment sir and what should I eat in daily routine life. Please sir…

  • Gurudatta K P

    Sir I’m from Country: India,
    State: Karnataka
    District: Gulbarga
    Sir My age is 24. I’m suffering from Low Potassium level in my body. Today my body potassium level is 2.1 mMol/L. My hands and legs were not working, So I admitted hospital and they given KCl injection in sodium chloride injection IP. After some hours I gain potassium and totally recovered. Like this is happening since from 10 years. It’s happens in every 1 month or every 2month. The doctor said sweet should be avoid totally. And also there is no permanent treatment. Sir I request you sir please give me permanent treatment sir and what should I eat in daily routine life. Please sir…

  • A. Campbell

    Hi Gurudatta KP,

    I’m sorry to hear that your potassium levels keep dropping. I am not a medical doctor and I, unfortunately, am not able to provide you with treatment. Have you had a conversation with your doctor as to the possible cause and how it might be best treated? Are you able to meet with another doctor for a second opinion? Also, if possible, meet with a dietitian who can discuss your diet with you and provide you with more specific dietary guidelines for you to follow.

  • mariah

    Hi I am 29 year old female who has recently had pins needles feeling in different parts of my body chest pain and leg pain my Dr ran a bunch of blood tests everything came back normal except my potassium was slightly low 3.4. He says that is not low enough to cause syptoms?

  • acampbell

    Hi mariah,

    I’m not a doctor, so I really can’t tell you what’s causing your symptoms. However, pins and needles (or tingling) can be a symptom of low potassium. The tricky part is that there are different reference ranges for what’s considered to be a normal or healthy potassium range. I’ve seen some reference ranges list 3.7 as the low end of normal, but I’ve also seen 3.5, too. It could be that 3.4 is indeed a low potassium level — for you. You don’t mention if you have diabetes; if you do, might you have neuropathy or other types of diabetes complications? As frustrating as it can be, I’d suggest you go back to your doctor to discuss your symptoms and possible causes.

  • Ivy

    I have had 2 blood tests showing potassium levels at 6.3 and 5.6 All other blood work is within normal range and up until now I have never had abnormal blood work. I have no diseases or health issues other than 2 surgeries a year ago for cervical and lumbar fusion. I am currently on hold for another surgery to address failed back syndrome (stimulator implant placement) due to high potassium levels. My family physician is stumped and does not know what is causing potassium levels to be high when I have none of the diseases, no signs of diseases in blood work, I am on no meds that will cause high potassium… a third blood test has been done and awaiting on those results. Any idea what can cause repeated out of the blue high potassium levels?

  • Gina

    Wanted to know what high potassium and diabetes are related, and if one has a potassium level of 10 (do not know the medical units) how is that extracted? Do they use DIALYSIS? Then, what is to be watched out for?

    • Kenny

      One function of insulin is that it is used to shuttle serum potassium (along with glucose) into the intracellular space. This is one of the treatments for hyperkalemia (serum potassium greater than 5.5 meq/L). With type 2 diabetics (who are resistant to their own insulin), coupled with kidney disease that’s common with type 2 (the kidneys regulates potassium), potassium levels must be carefully monitored, along with the patient’s intake of dietary potassium and insulin. Dialysis may be used when all other pharmacological therapies are exhausted.

  • Gina

    Also have one more question. I am called prediabetic when my A1C is what level? I am trying to reduce weight below 165 lbs. What to eat is a big question at every meal. Any help? Is white rice OK as it has lower GI than wheat?

    • Julie

      The GI is hogwash. Test, test, test. That’s the only way you’ll know what works for your body. Try to keep your carbs between 20-45 per meal. Don’t think of it as “per day”; it’s per meal that counts. You want to stay as even as you can. Test your blood sugar before a meal, then at 1 hour and 2 hours. You’ll know what causes the spike. I can guarantee you that white rice will spike it. You can use (free) to keep track and to see what the carb count is. That’s a start. Apples are fine – use a search engine and type “apples +diabetes”. They’re a help, not a hindrance. Veggies except not too many starchy ones (ok occasionally). Protein. Fat. It’s the empty carbs and processed food that kills.

  • nasrin sultana

    my mother suffering from diabetes from 4 year. recently her suger level is 6.5. but she feels too much weakness in her body,palpitation, bogyache,headround. sometimes she taken ORS. then she feels beter.but she also o BP patients.

  • nasrin sultana

    My mother suffering from diabetes from 4 year. Recently her suger level is 6.5. But she feels too much weakness in her body,palpitation, bodyache,headround. Sometimes she taken ORS.Then she feels beter But she also a BP patients.

  • acampbell

    Hi Gina,

    High potassium levels and diabetes may be related if a person has kidney disease due to uncontrolled diabetes. Blood potassium levels are usually measured in mEg/l or mmol/l. A level of 10 sounds extremely high and obviously needs to be treated. A high potassium level is treated with medication and sometimes, an IV of calcium, insulin, and glucose. If the kidneys are not working properly, dialysis may be needed. Once potassium levels are stabilized, a lower-potassium diet is likely needed.

  • acampbell


    Prediabetes is confirmed when a person’s A1C is in the range of 5.7% to 6.4%. Losing just 5% of your body weight can help delay or even prevent the progression to Type 2 diabetes. There are different ways to lose weight. Some people focus on cutting back on portions of food and increasing activity. Some people join a commercial program such as Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig. Others may use a meal replacement shake in place of one or two meals. Also, you can eat white rice, but again, the portion that you eat needs to be controlled. A good way to get started with weight loss is to meet with a dietitian to discuss your options and figure out the best approach for you.

  • rob

    how long does it usuall ytake to lower potassium levels by using alowpotassium diet

  • Ng

    my mother is suffering from a high sugar level,high BP and also thyroid.I went to a doctor today and got to know that she has a very high potassium level too. So, what do i do now.I mean
    what kind of food do i provide her???!!!

    • acampbell

      Hi Ng,
      I take it that your mother’s doctor didn’t advise you or her what to do about her high potassium. I would advise calling her doctor to discuss the causes of her high potassium and what steps to take. She may need a lower potassium diet until her levels return to normal and/or she might need a medication, as well. But first, find out from her doctor what to do next.

  • Alexus

    My pawpaw has high potassium, high sugar, high calcium, and high sodium. What can he possibly eat?!

    • bobby9

      The only cause of high potassium is kidney failure. The only help is vit D3.

  • T.

    Meanwhile back in Canada we can see Reg. dietician,etc anytime. Why do u guys cling to an outmoded way of thinking? Or is it that you guys are totally controlled by the politicians who should work for you but aren’t?

    • InVinoVeritas

      When was the last time Canada produced a life-saving drug or discovered a new cancer treatment?

      • Earth

        @InVinoVeritas: Has new cancer treatments cured cancer? because people are still dying from it.

  • kingcobra777

    If you do have high potassium from kidney damage then reducing your levels to normal is certainly needed, but in itself won’t correct the underlying problem. You need to take care of your kidneys.

    Potassium deficiency is rampant, and you can’t really diagnose it properly with serum levels, you have to be horribly deficient for it to show up there. Like all electrolytes, it’s the levels in the cells not the blood that matters here. If you excrete too much then blood levels can be fine but the cells can be starving. There isn’t even a good test for this, unlike RBC magnesium, but we do have guidelines for intake, although very few people pay attention to them and that’s why most people don’t get near enough.

  • aworldofheaven

    I recently started insulin and found myself getting dry mouth after my medication and urinating all night. in turn I would get leg cramps I started a low dose of over the counter potassium pill (99g) at night and all my problems have gone away. Fyi..

  • Elouise Swanson

    Appreciate you info. A health worker advised me not to eat cabbage due to Potassium. I have observed that when I don’t take in enough P. & calcium, I get cramps in the legs/hips. The bottom line is…moderation,

    • Jetwash

      I do too. A gallon jug of water is helpful, when you hold it against your body, to relieve the cramps

  • Jesse Rudolph

    Yeah. Salt substitutes are dangerous. They should seriously have a black label warning on them. I am currently on a ketogenic diet and was wanting to supplement the inevitable potassium deficiency with nosalt, and I had an extremely uncomfortable episode after over doing it that basically felt like DKA. My kidneys are healthy enough that I was able to eliminate the potassium on my own by pumping fluids and pissing, but it was almost to the point of needing emergency medical care. They say the LD-50 is similar to table salt, and that may be the case, but the ‘scary chemical torture dose’ is far far below that.

    This stuff should not be sold in a grocery store as food.

    • Chris

      You wont have potassium deficiency on the Ketogenic diet as long as you eat lots of multi-coloured vegetables. The key is to cut out the carbs, not all the natural potassium you get from vegetables. And obviously continue to eat lots of meat / fats.

      Vegetables are also much lower in sugar than fruit, so a better choice for your potassium needs.

  • Chris

    Cut oil ALL types of carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta, pizza, cookies, etc) and sugar.
    Eat extra meat and vegetables of various colours, especially green.

    Limit fruit as much as possible.
    Drink water more.
    Then you might not need insulin and might even cure your diabetes 100%.
    (insulin is only to lower excess glucose which mainly comes from sugar and carbohydrates – rather get your energy calories from good oils/fats – eg. meats and coconut oils, olive oil, avacado.)