Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
5 min read
Potassium bicarbonate is an alkaline mineral that can be purchased in supplement form. It’s potassium attached to bicarbonate (HCO3).
Potassium is a mineral that plays a very important role in the functioning of your body. It helps promote electrolyte balance, supports healthy muscle contractions, and manages the body’s fluids. It’s essential for ensuring healthy bones and muscles, as well as kidney function and a healthy heart. Potassium also impedes the effect of sodium, which has the effect of stabilizing blood pressure. The body needs the right balance of potassium and sodium.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of potassium is 3400 mg for men and 2600 mg for women. The best way to boost your intake is through dietary adjustments, since fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of potassium. You can also boost your intake through potassium supplementation. It’s important to note, though, that people with digestive issues may have difficulty absorbing potassium.
Besides potassium bicarbonate, potassium comes in several other forms, including:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) affirms that potassium bicarbonate is a safe substance, provided that it’s used appropriately.
However, most potassium supplements only contain, at most, 2% of the RDA. That’s because the FDA places a limit of 100 mg per serving for over-the-counter potassium supplements. When it comes to potassium bicarbonate, the maximum daily dosage depends on your age: If you’re under 60 years old, the maximum daily dosage is 200 milliequivalents of bicarbonate ion; if you’re older than 60 years old, the maximum daily dosage is 100 milliequivalents.
While considered safe for the general population, potassium bicarbonate is not yet considered safe for those who are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant. (That’s why it’s classified as a category C substance.) It’s also not yet known whether potassium bicarbonate can affect breast milk or have adverse effects for a nursing baby. If pregnant or nursing, talk to a medical professional before using a potassium bicarbonate supplement.
One common way to consume potassium bicarbonate is to dissolve tablets in water and then drink the water. It’s best to use at least four ounces of cold water, and it’s generally advisable to take your supplements with a meal.
Still, it’s best to get your potassium intake from food sources. Taking too many oral potassium tablets has led to digestive issues, such as nausea and vomiting. Excessive potassium can also potentially lead to heart rate issues.
People with kidney and/or adrenal issues would be well advised to avoid taking potassium bicarbonate, since negative side effects can occur. Potassium bicarbonate supplementation can be good for those who need to increase their potassium levels.
Potassium bicarbonate can promote bone health. One study found that potassium bicarbonate supplementation at 60 to 120 mmol daily decreased the excretion of hydroxyproline, a marker of bone resorption, by 10% in postmenopausal women. The same study found an increase in serum osteocalcin, which is a marker of bone formation. In other words, the study’s subjects showed cleared indicators of improved bone health. Another study also found that an increase in potassium intake had positive effects on bone health. Moreover, alkaline potassium salts from metabolizing frutis, vegetables, and/or potassium supplements (including potassium bicarbonate) are thought to protect against bone resorption.
Studies have shown that potassium bicarbonate can promote kidney health. One study showed that potassium bicarbonate supplementation reduced urinary calcium excretion in healthy men, thereby promoting healthier calcium balances in the body. It achieves this either by enhancing kidney calcium retention, by enhancing skeletal calcium retention, or quite likely, by enhancing both. Having less calcium excreted in the urine is a sign that more is being absorbed in the body, which is a sign of good kidney health. Another study found that potassium bicarbonate supplementation may reduce the rise in nitrogen levels caused by a high-protein diet, which has the effect of improving calcium absorption.
Potassium bicarbonate can help you with maintaining potassium levels, and it may even help with blood vessel health, by supporting your endothelial lining.
As with any supplement, the right dosage can depend on the health of the person taking it, as well as its interaction with any other medications that person may be using.
With that said, there are some good rules of thumb when it comes to age, as mentioned above. If you’re under 60 years old, the maximum daily dosage is 200 milliequivalents of bicarbonate ion; if you’re older than 60 years old, the maximum daily dosage is 100 milliequivalents.
Potassium bicarbonate is considered safe, but there is insufficient evidence to suggest that it is safe for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to a doctor before adding it to your routine.
Like any supplement, potassium bicarbonate can produce side effects. Some common side effects of taking too potassium include:
It’s always best to talk to your doctor before introducing any new supplement into your routine.
Potassium is a mineral that plays many vital roles in your body’s internal processes. It’s essential for kidney function, bone health, cardiovascular function, and more. It comes in many forms. Potassium bicarbonate is an alkaline mineral – made via combining potassium with carbonate – and is available as a supplement. Potassium bicarbonate has been shown to help with maintaining potassium levels, as well as with promoting kidney health and bone health. Before taking this popular supplement, you should talk to a medical professional about whether potassium bicarbonate is right for you.