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Kevin comments on Firewalling the Optimal from the Rational - Less Wrong

86 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 08 October 2012 08:01AM

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Comment author: Kevin 08 October 2012 11:55:29AM *  12 points [-]

The first time I took supplemental potassium (50% US RDA in a lot of water), it was like a brain fog lifted that I never knew I had, and I felt profoundly energized in a way that made me feel exercise was reasonable and prudent, which resulted in me and the roommate that had just supplemented potassium going for an hour long walk at 2AM.

Experiences since then have not been quite so profound (which probably was so stark for me as I was likely fixing an acute deficiency), but I can still count on a moderately large amount of potassium to give me a solid, nearly side effect free performance boost for a few hours.

Comment author: Jordan 09 October 2012 03:55:26PM 10 points [-]

I had a similar experience the first time I supplemented magnesium. Long lasting, non-jittery energy spike. I felt stronger (and empirically could in fact lift more weight), felt better, and was extremely happy. The effect decreased the next few times. After 4 doses (of 50% RDA, spread out over 2 weeks) I began to have adverse effects, including heart palpitation, weakness, and "sense of impending doom".

I wonder if there is a general physiological response to a sudden swing in electrolyte balance that causes the positive effect, rather than the removal of a deficiency.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 October 2012 09:16:37AM 4 points [-]

After 4 doses (of 50% RDA, spread out over 2 weeks) I began to have adverse effects

Is there a typo/something I'm missing, or who the hell set the RDA that high?

Comment author: gwern 10 October 2012 02:58:20AM 5 points [-]

The first time I took supplemental potassium (50% US RDA in a lot of water)

How much is that in milligrams? Googling, I see different values for RDA. Also, I take it you were using some sort of bulk powder? (The gel caps all seem to be ridiculously small, like 99mg when the RDA is >3000mg!)

Comment author: Kevin 04 November 2012 09:59:48AM 2 points [-]

I think I've been going with 4.7 grams as RDA. And yes, bulk powder. Due to potential digestive upset, I typically don't administer more than 25% RDA now.

Comment author: Morendil 08 October 2012 12:50:24PM *  2 points [-]

Thanks! Did you have any other indication at that time that you might have had a potassium deficiency, such as recent blood work?

(I had blood work done relatively recently, which turned up excessive levels of ferritin, but normal potassium at 4.2 compared to a 3.5-5.0 normal range.)

Comment author: Kevin 08 October 2012 09:45:07PM 2 points [-]

No, but I had been doing Bikram yoga on and off, and I think I wasn't keeping up the practice because I wasn't able to properly rehydrate myself.

Comment author: gwern 02 November 2012 09:03:57PM 0 points [-]

Besides my dosage question: have you noticed any sleep benefits to supplementing potassium?

Comment author: Kevin 04 November 2012 10:00:33AM 1 point [-]

I think a general high water high electrolyte diet has benefited my sleep. I haven't noticed potassium immediately before bed decreasing sleep quality.

Comment author: gwern 21 December 2012 01:00:48AM 1 point [-]

Well, I've finished ~2 months of data. The Zeo sleep stats say that there is a major negative effect, so I'm going to chalk up potassium as a failed experiment for me:

Comment author: Kevin 21 December 2012 07:29:55AM 1 point [-]

I also replied on Reddit... but I'm wondering if co-administering magnesium would fix this. Or test if Concentrace (http://www.amazon.com/Trace-Minerals-Concentrace-Mineral-Drops-Glass/dp/B004AC07G6/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1356074954&sr=8-2&keywords=concentrace), mostly my favorite commercial supplement and a highly bioabsorbable magnesium, improves sleep quality.

Comment author: gwern 21 December 2012 05:04:24PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: gwern 04 November 2012 03:05:15PM 0 points [-]

Hm, interesting.

Comment author: gwern 22 February 2013 08:32:14PM 0 points [-]

I've just finished my followup experiment: http://www.gwern.net/Zeo#potassium-morning-use

I standardized a smaller dose, blinded consumption, and took it immediately upon awakening. The negative effect was much smaller (as expected) but there was still no apparent benefit.

Comment author: aaronde 19 October 2012 07:54:14PM 0 points [-]

This question is for anyone who says they saw a benefit from supplementation, not just Kevin.

What was your diet like at the time? Were you taking a daily multivitamin?