It is nearly impossible to get an overdose of potassium from natural food sources. However, there are certain groups at risk of developing abnormal high levels of potassium in the blood, like patients with severe kidney damage. They need to follow a potassium-restricted diet. Severe hyperkalaemia can be life threatening because it can cause cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac arrest or muscle weakness. RIVM reviewed available data on potassium intake in the Netherlands and the potential risk groups for developing hyperkalaemia, commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.
Risk for hyperkalaemia
There are groups at risk of developing abnormal high levels of
potassium in the blood (hyperkalaemia), such as patients with
severe kidney damage. They need to monitor the levels of potassium
in their blood and they follow a potassium-restricted diet. Other
groups could potentially be at risk for developing hyperkalaemia by
a combination of factors. For instance, individuals at risk are
those who are not aware they have impaired renal function and at
the same time take supplemental potassium or use certain
medications such as ACE-inhibitors (heart
medications) or potassium-sparing diuretics. The magnitude of this
risk relative to the current potassium intake in the Netherlands is
yet unknown. To answer this question more research is needed.
Potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride