Potassium is an essential dietary mineral and electrolyte that regulates the balance of fluids in the body. Potassium citrate, with a formula K₃C₆H₅O₇, is a potassium salt of citric acid. It is a crystalline powder with a slightly salty taste. It is involved in nerve function, muscle control and blood pressure. Potassium is an essential health nutrient that is good for lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of kidney stones, increasing bone-beneficial calcium and reducing the risk of stroke.
Potassium is found in various fiber-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes.
If you follow a largely plant-based diet, there’s a good chance you’re getting enough potassium. But if your diet includes more processed foods, you may not be consuming an adequate amount.
Potassium citrate in particular produces alkalizing effects in the body, helping to balance urinary pH levels.
Unlike other essential nutrients (like calcium, vitamin D and B-vitamins), potassium is not fortified (added) in staple foods. This is due to its rapid impact on blood pressure.
However, when potassium is consumed from natural sources like these, the accompanying fiber slows its absorption. This allows it to safely perform its role in the body.
In supplemental or medication form, potassium is combined with other molecules like carbonate, chloride or hydroxide to form salts.
Potassium linked to citric acid forms potassium citrate.
Applications of Potassium citrate
Potassium is a mineral found in many foods and is needed for several parts of your body to function, especially your heart. Potassium citrate is a potassium salt of citric acid. It is a white powder with the ability to attract and hold small amounts of water. Potassium citrate has no smell, but tastes salty. There are a few common uses for potassium citrate, one of the uses being as a food additive. Potassium citrate is used to regulate the acidity in foods. It is frequently used in sodas as a buffering agent, to keep the acidity of the soda at a specified pH level.
This chemical product is also used in medicine to control kidney stones, specifically to treat a kidney stone condition called renal tubular acidosis. Your kidneys normally regulate your body’s pH by removing acids from the blood and disposing them in the urine. Renal tubular acidosis is caused by a defect in the kidney tubes that causes acid to build up in the bloodstream. Therefore, potassium citrate is used to regulate the acidity levels in the patient’s body.
Citric acid solutions, such as potassium citrate, lower acid in the blood and urine.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Potassium plays an important role in controlling blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. It works with sodium to maintain water balance in the body and helps lower blood pressure in the body, according to Colorado State University. Increased potassium may increase the amount of sodium the body excretes causing a protective effect against hypertension.
A study published in the July 2005 Harvard Medical School “Family Health Guide” noted that potassium citrate had the same “blood-pressure-lowering effects” as potassium chloride. The study tested 14 people with stage 1 hypertension. They gave 7 people potassium chloride and 7 people potassium citrate. They found each group had similar beneficial effects on hypertension. They concluded that increased potassium intake does not have to be specific to be effective.
Prevents Kidney Stones
Potassium citrate is used to prevent certain types of kidney stones. It makes the urine more alkaline and neutralizes some of the acid in the urine, which helps to reduce crystal formation. A study by J He Feng, research fellow and professor, published in the September 2001 issue of the “British Medical Journal,” noted that potassium citrate reduces calcium excretion, causing a positive calcium balance. The study concluded that potassium reduces the risk of kidney stones.
The biggest causal factor for strokes is high blood pressure. Potassium citrate reduces blood pressure and in turn reduces the risk of stroke. A study published in the September 2001 “British Medical Journal” found reduced risk of stroke from potassium even when blood pressure was matched for both high and low intakes supporting the conclusion of a direct protective effect from potassium on strokes.
Potassium increases calcium retention by reducing calcium excretion, which may be associated a longer lasting higher bone mass. A study by SA New and colleagues published in the January 2000 “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” tested 62 healthy women aged 45 to 55 and found a direct link between higher intakes of magnesium, potassium and alcohol were associated with higher total bone mass.