Potassium is one of the three main electrolytes and third most abundant mineral in the body. It’s function is to assist in maintaining fluid balance. It also plays a role in heart and muscle contractions and supporting the nervous system. 

Do YOU get enough of this important mineral?

Most individuals do not meet the adequate intake, AI, for potassium. The current AI  is 4,700 milligrams for adults and 5,1000 for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Meeting these guidelines is important for optimal health and may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney stones, and bone loss. 

As stated before, most Americans do not meet the AI for potassium. Signs of deficiency include excess sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, and kidney complications. If deficiency becomes severe, muscle spasm, irregular heartbeat and weakness may occur. If any of these symptoms present, it is vital to seek medical care. Populations most at risk for deficiency are older adults, African Americans, or individuals who have kidney disease. 

How to get more potassium

There are many ways to get potassium in the diet, aside from reaching for an electrolyte beverage. Eating a well balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes promotes dietary intake of this essential mineral. 

Dietary Sources of Potassium: 

  • Banana
  • Oranges
  • Melons
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato
  • White beans
  • Avocado
  • Acorn squash
  • Cooked spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Milk 
  • Salmon 

Potassium is an important mineral for cardiovascular health and incorporating potassium-rich foods in the diet may decrease your risk for stroke, hypertension, and kidney stones. If you are struggling with getting adequate amounts in your diet, please contact our office and schedule a consultation with one of our registered dietitians

Written by: Lexi Nazzaro, Dietetic Intern Sources: Material adapted from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Food & Nutrition Magazine (May/June 2018)