Potassium Chloride: What Is It and What Is It Used for?

November 18, 2022

Science continues to make progress in the world of medicine. More and more drugs are being developed and used not only to cure diseases or alleviate pain but also to improve the body's functions. 

Potassium chloride is a good example, as it is used to counteract certain defects detected in the human body.

Although medicinal science continues to grow, ignorance about the existence of certain drugs and what they are used for is widespread among the population. 

Therefore, it is crucial to clarify the usefulness of potassium chloride. To find out all about what potassium chloride is and what it is used for, we recommend you keep reading this article.

What is potassium chloride?

Potassium chloride is composed of potassium and chlorine. It is a white or colorless crystal and is a type of medication known as an electrolyte. These electrolytes help to maintain the proper balance of water levels throughout the body.

Potassium chloride is considered to be a source of chlorine and potassium. Potassium makes up 52% of its weight, while the remaining 48% is chlorine. 

In addition, it is also a flavor-enhancing additive, stabilizer (called E-508), and thickener often found in whey protein powders and dairy products.

What is potassium chloride used for?

Among its benefits and uses, we can highlight the following, 

  • Potassium chloride serves to replace potassium lost in the body. It can be used as a source of potassium or chloride in situations of deficiency caused by inadequate diets, extreme diarrhea, or diuretic treatments.

  • Potassium chloride is sometimes used as a substitute for sodium chloride (salt). Excessive intake of table salt can cause significant health problems, so commercial alternatives such as sodium-free salt, i.e., corresponding to potassium chloride products, are becoming increasingly popular. Low-sodium salts that mix sodium and potassium chloride are also used.

Other major uses of potassium chloride are to treat or prevent hypokalemia. Potassium levels in the body are affected after suffering diarrhea, vomiting, or taking drugs, so potassium chloride serves to balance them. Even so, it should always be taken under medical prescription and with the appropriate indications of the specialist for each case. 

How to use potassium chloride?

After discovering all the applications of potassium chloride, it is essential to clarify the recommended dosage and the precautions to follow to take it safely.

Recommended potassium chloride dosage

There is no maximum amount of potassium chloride indicated by health agencies, so it depends on good manufacturing and use practices. That is to say, it should be used in the minimum amount required to obtain the desired effect of its intake without causing possible side effects.

Potassium deficiencies in the body are uncommon, which is why there is no recommended daily intake. However, it is considered that between 1,600 and 2,000 mg of potassium is the most adequate intake. The established ratio between potassium and sodium should always be five to one.

Precautions and contraindications

These are some relevant points to take into account before taking potassium chloride:

Consumption of potassium chloride in healthy people and adequate amounts (4 to 9 grams daily in the total diet) is considered safe. The amounts used as an additive are usually well-tolerated and do not cause digestive or intestinal problems.

Higher doses may occasionally cause reactions in people with health problems. Ulcers produced in the small intestine have also been detected when consuming potassium chloride tablets. 

People suffering from potassium or sodium metabolism disorders, renal diseases, or severe dehydration should avoid the consumption of this product.

It is also not recommended to take potassium chloride simultaneously with digitalis glycosides. Simultaneous use of quinidine helps to potentiate the antiarrhythmic effects of potassium chloride.

If you replace table salt with potassium chloride, do not forget that any product or ingredient consumed in excess is harmful to the body. Therefore, the use of potassium chloride can be very harmful if consumed in huge quantities, even causing an excess of potassium.

Side effects of potassium chloride

As it happens with the rest of medications or supplements, potassium chloride has side effects that, generally, are inferior to the benefit that its consumption brings to health, and when they appear, it is usually due to excessive use of the product. 

These are the main side effects of potassium chloride supplements:

  • Nervous system problems: loss of reflexes, mental confusion, tingling or prickling in feet and hands, weakness, and lack of energy.

  • Heart and blood circulation problems: dizziness due to low blood pressure.

  • Immune system problems (fevers).

Final Word

Potassium chloride is a dietary supplement consisting of potassium and chlorine.

This colorless mineral supplement is mostly used to regulate potassium deficiencies in the body, but it also deals with excess sodium that can be severe for the human body. 

As with any other supplement or medication, potassium chloride can have side effects when consumed excessively, so consult your doctor before taking it.