Potassium Bicarbonate

Potassium Bicarbonate

Potassium Bicarbonate

Potassium bicarbonate (Potassium Hydrogen Carbonate) is an inorganic compound. It is a white solid alkaline compound. It is an important nutrient supplementation. Potassium is an important electrolyte. Potassium bicarbonate is available in supplement formulations.

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Potassium Bicarbonate – Chemical Formula


potassium bicarbonate structural formula
potassium bicarbonate structural formula


Potassium hydrogen carbonate

KHCO3 – Common Name

Potassium bicarbonate

KHCO3 – Other Name

Potassium acid carbonate

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Sources of Potassium

Potassium is found in many plants and food. The following are the potassium-rich foods.

  • Fruits such as bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, grapefruit
  • Cooked spinach
  • Cooked broccoli
  • Dairy products like mike and yogurt
  • Fishes such as tuna, cod, trout, and rockfish
  • Mushrooms
  • Potatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Pumpkins
  • Green leafs
  • Soybeans
  • Kidney beans
  • Potassium-rich salt
  • Dried fruits such as prunes, raisins, and dates.
  • Orange juice is a very good source of potassium
  • Nuts
  • Molasses
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Meat and poultry

Importance of Potassium

The human body also contains potassium. Total Body Potassium level is about 3500 mEq, and nearly 75% of it is present in the muscles. Potassium is an important intracellular cation (electrolyte) which maintain the intracellular osmotic pressure. Even minor changes in the potassium levels will have profound effects on cardiovascular and neuromuscular activities. So, potassium is essential for strong bones and muscle and for maintaining cardiovascular health. It helps in muscle contraction during movements. During digestion, potassium helps to combat the acidic effects of the food taken. It plays a very important role in maintaining a regular strong heartbeat.

Potassium deficiency

Potassium deficiency is low levels of potassium in the body. The normal potassium level is 3.5 – 5.5 mEq/L. If the potassium level in the plasma is less than 3 mEq/L, this condition is called Hypokalemia (Potassium Deficiency).

Causes of Potassium Deficiency

The following are some of the causes of Potassium deficiency,

  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Conn’s syndrome
  • Adrenogenital syndrome
  • Alkalosis
  • Insulin therapy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Low potassium diet
  • Malabsorption diseases
  • Obstruction in the intestine
  • Drugs such as Insulin, Salbutamide, Diuretics, Thiazides
  • Magnesium deficiency

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Effects of Potassium Deficiency

Potassium deficiency leads to muscle weakness, fatigue, decreased blood pressure, muscle cramps, cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and cardiac arrest which decreases cardiovascular health. Potassium deficiency also causes neuromuscular problems which decrease the reflex ( involuntary) movement of the body parts. These are the signs and symptoms of low potassium levels in the blood.

What are the uses of Potassium Bicarbonate?

potassium bicarbonate; white solid salt
potassium bicarbonate; white solid salt

Potassium bicarbonate is used to treat potassium deficiency or hypokalemia. Potassium bicarbonate is an antacid neutralizes the Hydrochloric acid (HCL) secreted in the stomach. It decreases acidity in the stomach and reduces ulceration due to the presence of acid in the stomach.

In addition, it has much potential health benefits.

The following are the non-medical uses of potassium bicarbonate,

  • Buffering agents in medication
  • Winemaking
  • Used in club soda to improve the taste
  • Baking soda as a leavening agent
  • Bottled water to improve the taste
  • Used in Fire extinguishers
  • It neutralizes acidic soil, helps in the growth of the crop
  • It is used as an effective fungicide to destroy the fungus
  • Softening agent in soda water

How to intake Potassium bicarbonate supplements?

Potassium bicarbonate supplementation is available in both tablet and effervescent forms. Take the medication with the prescription of the doctor. If you get the symptoms of potassium deficiency which I mentioned above you should consult the doctor first. If the symptoms are due to potassium deficiency the doctor will prescribe you potassium supplements in the form of potassium bicarbonate effervescent tablet.

Dosage form

Dissolve the prescribed number of tablets into a glass of water (approximately 120 ml). When the tablets are dissolved completely start drinking it for up to 5 to 10 minutes. Drink right away it dissolved don’t wait over time. You can also mix it with juice or milk. The doctor may even prescribe potassium bicarbonate tablets for stomach upset. Don’t take larger doses of tablet usw the prescribed amount only.

What happens when you overdose?

Don’t stop taking the medication without telling your doctor. if you stop taking the medication your conditions may get worse. If you miss a dose take it as soon as possible when you remember.If it is more than 2 hours wait for the next scheduled dose. Do not take missed doses the next time it may lead to potassium toxicity. Overdose may cause numbness in your hands or feet, paralysis, uneven heartbeat, dizziness, chest pain, a severe ache in your arms and shoulder, sweating, nauseating feeling, convulsions, and general sickness. If you get any of these symptoms immediately seek emergency care. Tell the doctor the number of doses you administered and you will be treated accordingly.

How safe is this?

Over many long-term studies, there is no danger or hazard observed in this substance. Potassium bicarbonate is a completely safe product if it is taken in appropriate amounts.

It is a category C substance, which means it is not recommended to pregnant ladies or breastfeeding moms. There are still researches going on to find whether it will pass into the breast milk or bring harm to the nursing baby. If you are pregnant or planning of getting pregnant consult it with your doctor.

When you should avoid potassium bicarbonate

If your potassium levels in the blood rise more than 5.5 mEq/L, it becomes dangerous and causes potassium toxicity (Hyperkalemia). It may even lead to death. Make sure you consult with your doctor before taking any medication.

The effects of Hyperkalemia,

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • uneven heart rate
  • insensitivity in hands and feet
  • dizzy feeling
  • Confused state
  • paralysis of the limbs
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • Cardiac arrest

Pregnant or Nursing Women, people with disorders in which Potassium level increases shouldn’t take this supplement. Avoid taking potassium bicarbonate medication with potassium-rich foods or potassium salt substitutes it may cause sudden potassium increase. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of potassium is 1600 to 2000 mg.

Conditions in which doctor prescribes

Potassium supplements like potassium bicarbonate are usually prescribed during Hypokalemia. Sometimes the doctors even prescribe some dose during the following conditions,

  • Blockage in the intestine
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Ulcer
  • Addisons disease

Potassium bicarbonate is available as an over-the-counter (OTC) product means it will be available in the pharmacy without a prescription. But, it’s not recommended that you use it without a doctor’s consent or approval.

Drugs which affect potassium bicarbonate

Certain other drugs or medications may interfere with the potassium bicarbonate and may affect the potassium levels in the blood. Such substances are listed below:

  • Blood pressure medication, including diuretics such as metolazone (Zaroxolyn), amiloride (Midamor, Moduretic), hydrochlorothiazide (Hydrodiuril, HCTZ, others), chlorothiazide (Diuril, others)  indapamide (Lozol), spironolactone (Aldactone, Aldactazide).
  • Digoxin (Lanoxin)
  • ACE inhibitors, such as ramipril (Altace), lisinopril (Zestril, Prinivil)  benazepril (Lotensin), captopril (Capoten), fosinopril (Monopril), enalapril (Vasotec), moexipril (Univasc), perindopril (Aceon), quinapril (Accupril), or trandolapril (Mavik)
  • All steroid substances such as hydrocortisone (Cortef, Hydrocortone), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), dexamethasone (Decadron, Hexadrol).
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) aspirin, naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), diclofenac (Voltaren), etodolac (Lodine), indomethacin (Indocin), ketoprofen (Orudis).
  • Beta-blocker such as labetalol (Normodyne, Trandate), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol), sotalol (Betapace), timolol (Blocadren).

What are the potential health benefits?

Your doctor might recommend potassium bicarbonate supplements when you do not get sufficient potassium in your dietary intake. The potential health benefits are listed below:

Overcomes potassium deficiency

Low potassium levels result in excessive vomiting, diarrhea, and irregular bowel movements. In such a case, potassium bicarbonate supplementations are highly recommended.

Enhances cardiovascular health

Scientists recommended that supplementing potassium bicarbonate to your nutrition reduces (Hypertension) blood pressure. It improves your overall cardiovascular health in people who intake a high-potassium, low-salt diet. Potassium may also help lower the risk of stroke. In a study, the subjects were asked to intake potassium bicarbonate overall improvement in the endothelial function was noted. The endothelium is the inner wall of blood vessels. It is important in maintaining the blood flow, to and from the heart.

Increases Bones Strength

A study shows that potassium bicarbonate reduces calcium loss, by helping in the absorption of calcium. This has a beneficial effect on the strength and density of the bones. In old peoples, potassium bicarbonate greatly promotes calcium absorption and gives some strength to the bones. As it is alkaline it greatly reduces the acidic pH of the blood and protects the muscle and bones from being damaged.

Dissolution of kidney stones

Purines are a natural, chemical compound majorly found in our genetic materials such as DNA. RNA etc. Adenine and guanine are some examples of purine. Uric acid is the end product of purine metabolism. Uric acid may get accumulated and form deposits or stones in the kidney. In a high purine diet, purines may produce more uric acid than the kidneys can process, leading to the formation of kidney stones. As mentioned above potassium is a highly alkaline compound, which neutralizing excess acid. Thus, decreases the uric acid formed and helps in the prevention of kidney stones formation. In such cases, going under a knife (surgery) can be prevented.


Potassium bicarbonate supplements have good health benefits. But it is always advised to consult a doctor before taking any medication. Some times it may turn out dangerous for some people with certain disorders, Make a list of other present medications and tell it to your doctor before intaking potassium bicarbonate. Keep the medicines away from the reach of the children.

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