Potassium Gluconate vs Potassium Chloride – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects

Potassium Gluconate (KG)  

It is the potassium salt of gluconic acid, that is produced from glucose (sugar) by fermentation and subsequent neutralization with a potassium source.

It is also known as D-gluconic acid potassium salt, 2,3,4,5,6-pentahydroxycaproic acid, or potassium salt.

This supplement is sold over-the-counter as capsules or tablets providing up to 593 mg of KG, hence containing 99 mg or 2.53 mEq of the mineral potassium.

Uses & Benefits

It is a mineral supplement commonly used to prevent or treat low amounts of potassium in the blood, a condition which is known as hypokalemia.

Sings and symptoms of hypokalemia include – palpitations, worsening diabetes control, polyuria (an abnormally large passage or production of urine), fatigue, and muscle cramps.

In more severe cases, the symptoms of hypokalemia also include abnormal heart rhythms. Common causes of hypokalemia include:

  • sweating;
  • low magnesium levels;
  • eating disorders (like – bulimia);
  • diuretic medications (such as – water pills);
  • prescription medicines used to treat hypertension and heart failure;
  • chronic kidney disease;
  • using too much laxative since they may lead to diarrhea;
  • vomiting;
  • antibiotics;
  • rare syndromes, including – Cushing syndrome, Liddle syndrome, Gitelman syndrome, Bartter syndrome;
  • drinking too many alcoholic beverages.

Also, using KG might benefit the cardiovascular system since maintaining healthy potassium levels helps control the blood pressure and minimizes the adverse effects of too much sodium in the diet (like – high blood pressure).

According to a study issued by Paul Whelton in the Journal of the American Medical Association, consuming twice as much potassium (from any sources) as sodium considerably reduces the risk of dying from heart disease.

Potassium is also required for proper muscle contraction, the transmission of nerve impulses, and for the function of kidneys and brain.


It is recommended to take these supplements exactly as prescribed by your healthcare specialist. To prevent stomach upset, take every dose with a glass of water and a meal, unless your healthcare specialist tells you otherwise Also, avoid lying down for at least half an hour after you take KG.

Side Effects

The most frequent side effects of using this medication include:

  • loose stools;
  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath;
  • upset stomach;
  • irregular heartbeat;
  • belly pain;
  • confusion;
  • unusual tiredness;
  • unexplained anxiety;
  • the heaviness of legs.

You should not take this supplement if you have problems with your stomach, esophagus, or intestines since these conditions will make it difficult for you to digest the pills.

Potassium Chloride (KCl)

It is a metal halide salt composed of chloride and potassium. It is odorless and has a colorless clear crystal or white appearance.

It belongs to a group of drugs, named – electrolytes, that are compounds that help the human body function in a healthy manner. This supplement is available from numerous manufacturers.


It is generally used for supplementing the essential mineral – potassium to treat or prevent low potassium levels in the blood. Without enough potassium levels in the body, some symptoms may occur, including – rapidly changing moods, an irregular heartbeat, nausea, and weakness in the muscles.

The version of this medication as an injection is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines which contains the medicines thought to be most safe and effective to meet the most important requirements in a health system.


Take this medicine exactly as prescribed by your healthcare specialist. Do not take it for longer than recommended or in smaller or larger amounts.

Side Effects

Common side effects of using KCI include:

  • uneven heartbeat;
  • muscle weakness;
  • severe stomach pain;
  • tingling or numbness in the hands, mouth, or feet;
  • nausea;
  • vomiting;
  • gas;
  • diarrhea;
  • allergic reactions, such as – red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin, rash, itching, or hives.

This supplement should be used with extreme caution in people with – kidney problems, heart problems, conditions causing a blockage or narrowing of the large intestine, hiatus hernia (thinning of the phrenoesophageal membrane), or stomach ulcer.

KCI may also cause a condition known as hyperkalemia (an abnormally elevated level of potassium in the blood). Normal levels of this mineral in the blood are between 3.5 and 5.0 mmol/L, with levels above 5.5 mmol/L medically defined as hyperkalemia.

Symptoms of hyperkalemia include:

  • weakness;
  • slow heart rate;
  • arrhythmia (the heart beats too slowly, too quickly, or with an irregular pattern).

Note – when not recognized and treated correctly, severe high levels of potassium in the blood may lead to death.

Bottom Line – Potassium Gluconate vs Potassium Chloride

The main differences between the two medicines are that the KCI is given if there are low levels of both chloride and potassium in the blood, while KG is given to patients as a supplement if he has a healthy chloride level.


The recommended daily intake for the essential mineral – potassium is 4,700 mg per day, however, the majority of adults consume less than fifty percent of that amount, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Taking these supplements can help fill in the gap and provide some of the daily needs of potassium. However, the best way to obtain the daily recommended intake is by including in your regular diet foods high in potassium at every meal.

These foods include – prune, orange, grapefruit, apricot, spinach, kale, mushrooms,  beets, green peas, bananas, tomatoes, kiwi, cantaloupe, strawberries, red kidney beans, banana, avocados, chickpeas, or lentils.

Image credit – Shutterstock

READ THIS NEXT: Top Foods High In Potassium

1 thought on “Potassium Gluconate vs Potassium Chloride – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects”

  1. Nice article, albeit can you address potassium’s fluid control. While potassium chloride will draw and hold fluids in the body, which potassium would help drain excess fluid from the body. Party has low cellular potassium and by extension, hypochlorhydria, but no renal disease and no meds. Thanks.


Leave a Comment