Potassium is an essential mineral for the body's growth and maintenance tasked with managing the normal water balance between cells and body fluids. It helps regulate acidity levels as well as blood pressure and neuromuscular functioning. It also plays a crucial role in transmitting electrical impulses to the human heart.
That's a big resume for one seemingly small mineral.
Potassium: The Facts
- The daily recommended dietary intake is 4700mg. While supplements can help you reach this goal, the best sources of potassium occur naturally in a delicious variety of foods (more on that below).
- Maintaining a diet that balances your body's levels of potassium and sodium can aid in preventing and/or treating heart disease, high blood pressure, hypoglycemia, diabetes, and kidney disease or kidney stones.
- Potassium is essential to muscle contraction, another example of the careful balancing act that occurs in our body between potassium and sodium.
Potassium: The Sources
- Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits. One cup of orange juice contains 500mgs.
- Fish, especially halibut, tuna and flounder (all contain 400mg+ per serving)
- Beets, 1 cup of beets is approximately 15% of your daily potassium dose
- Bananas each contain 450mg of potassium
- Tomato or prune juice
- Honeydew melons
- Lima beans, 1 cup contains 1000mgs
- Baked potatoes contain nearly 900mgs
With abundant sources like that, most people have no problems consuming enough potassium. While the most extreme cases of potassium deficiency can lead to hypertension and congestive heart failure, this is a rare occurrence. However, it is important to note that those with diabetes or renal disease, and people on diuretics or laxatives, may more easily suffer from a potassium deficiency.
For most, it is difficult to consume too much potassium, especially if you rely on foods, like those mentioned above, as your primary sources.
Test your vitamin knowledge now with Dr. Oz's Daily Dose Quiz.