Summary: Potassium is a mineral that must be obtained in the diet and is required for life. It
is an electrolyte, which are minerals that conduct electrical impulses throughout the body, including in nerves, muscle, and cardiac conduction tissue. Potassium deficiency can occur under a variety of different conditions. Deficiency can result in fatigue and symptoms of muscle, gastrointestinal, and cardiac disease. Side effects are rare at usual doses used in supplementation.

Potassium in Spectrum Needs

Potassium is added in order to provide a wide basis of nutrition, but not high enough to provoke hyperkalemia (high blood potassium). Diets in children with autism are often deficient in essential nutrients. Side effects are unexpected.

The Details

What Is It? Potassium is a mineral that must be obtained in the diet and is required for life. It is one of the seven essential “macrominerals” that need to be provided by the diet in quantities of at least 100 milligrams per day.

What Does It Do? Potassium is an electrolyte, which are minerals that conduct electrical impulses throughout the body, including in nerves, muscle, and cardiac conduction tissue.

What Does Deficiency Appear as? Potassium deficiency, known as hypokalemia, is relatively common, and can occur under a variety of different conditions. Deficiency can result in fatigue, muscle symptoms (cramping, spasms, weakness), gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, constipation), and cardiac symptoms (arrhythmia, sudden death).

What About Its Use in Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD)? Potassium is not expected to be of specific utility in the treatment of ASD.

What About Its Use in Other Conditions? Potassium is supplemented in a wide variety of conditions including cardiovascular and gastrointestinal disorders, infertility, diuretic use, extreme exercise, and eating disorders.

What Are the Common and/or Important Side Effects? Too much potassium can result in hyperkalemia, a potentially dangerous condition that can include abnormal heart rhythms.

Is There Any Laboratory Testing? Laboratory testing can reveal the presence of a deficiency of this nutrient, as often can an EKG.

How and Why is this Nutrient Used in Spectrum Needs

Potassium is added to Spectrum Needs in order to provide a wide basis of nutrition. Diets in children with autism are often deficient in essential nutrients. The dose of potassium is low, in order to neither precipitate hypokalemia nor hyperkalemia. Side effects are unexpected at the doses used in Spectrum Needs.