A Normal Potassium Level
Has Little to Do With Potassium
Every lab sheet shows what a Normal Potassium Level is, but there is something VITAL about that number that your doctor- and the lab sheet- can't and won't tell you. That 'something' is that POTASSIUM levels are ENTIRELY dependent upon having enough MAGNESIUM! But most doctors aren't aware of this and look at the potassium blood test by itself without taking into consideration the importance of magnesium.
The normal potassium levels are slightly different for every laboratory and run between about
3.5-5.0 mEq/L- pronounced milli-equivalents per liter which is simply a measurement of concentration in the blood.
This is a commonly done test that nearly everyone sees on their Metabolic Panel Blood Test. But what do high, normal and low potassium levels mean to you?
High Potassium Levels
High potassium levels are VERY concerning and should be followed up IMMEDIATELY by your doctor. The VAST majority of cases of high potassium levels occur in those with kidney failure- and sometimes when the blood sample was damaged when being drawn, which releases large amounts of potassium from inside the cells into the blood 'serum' that is being measured Otherwise, it is EXTREMELY rare for someone to have a potassium level that is too high. Not including those with kidney problems, a LOW potassium level is nearly always the problem. A high potassium level is NOT due to eating too many bananas!
Low Potassium Levels
For MOST people, the problem is LOW potassium levels. This is an EXTREMELY common condition that can contribute to the formation of Kidney Stones- and doctors give potassium supplements very frequently because so many patients, particularly those with Congestive Heart Failure, take Diuretic pills that lower potassium levels- but being common does not necessarily mean that it is NORMAL and people taking diuretics are not the ONLY ones who get Potassium Deficiency Symptoms!
Often when this condition is discovered, depending upon the doctor and the medical conditions that the person has, the doctor may or may not recommend potassium tablets. But there are two reasons that ONLY recommending potassium supplements is shortsighted.
The First is that this does not address What Causes Low Potassium and, unless the person is quite ill, repeat levels are not done again to ensure that a normal potassium level is attained. So, soon after the pills are finished, the person will get potassium deficiency again- but no one does another level.
The Second is that the REASON that potassium levels are so often low is that low MAGNESIUM levels are actually causing the potassium levels to be low! Studies on people with chronically low potassium levels have shown that this problem can be VERY rapidly resolved when magnesium is given- even when high doses of potassium don't create a normal potassium level (1)
But since your Magnesium Level is completely USELESS information and is almost always normal unless there is SEVERE deficiency, this 'subclinical' magnesium deficiency is almost never discovered.
So, if you want to achieve a Normal Potassium Level, then the BEST way to do this is to recognize that your low potassium level is a good indication that you have Magnesium Deficiency and that following the detailed instructions on the Magnesium Dosage page is actually going to go a LOT further towards getting you a Normal Potassium Level than is taking potassium supplements.
In fact, in many cases, studies show that low potassium levels can be increased by taking ONLY magnesium supplements and NOT taking potassium at all!! Now, don't you wish that your doctor had told you this?! Keep reading to find out MORE great information on Understanding Blood Test Results
Understanding Blood Test Results
Potassium Level Resources