We recently received a message from a patient who was leery about trying flavored Effer-K due to (unnecessary) concerns about the sugar content in flavored varieties of Effer-K and how the sugar might decrease potassium levels. While this concern is unfounded, as there is NO SUGAR in any variety of Effer-K, we were still interested in why sugar could counteract the effect of potassium repletion.
Here’s what the patient said.
I am using 20 mEq unflavored. I would like to try a flavor but the glucose/insulin triggers K+ shift
My response… huh?? Here’s what our medical director explained.
Based on his comment, I surmise that this patient is under the impression that the flavored tablets have sugar in them, and is concerned that this would result in decreased serum potassium levels. That is: when you ingest sugar, this triggers an insulin surge in the body. Insulin causes glucose to be taken up by tissues in the body. One component of insulin’s mechanism of action is to activate a sodium/potassium pump in the cell membrane, the net effect of which is to shift potassium into the cells.
This is actually a first line treatment in patients with hyperkalemia: to give insulin + glucose.
Since Effer-K contains no glucose, then I would think the whole concern/issue is moot – a non-issue.
Who knew? Another day, another benefit discovered in repleting potassium with Effer-K.