We All Need Potassium Daily But Most Don’t Get Enough

This is one of those nutrients that most people know little about and is one of the top essential nutrients that many are deficient. I was one of those that didn’t think of Potassium as a priority, because it’s not one of those vitamins that make the headlines.

That is until I started researching how I could help my atrial fibrillation. Well to say that the information was eye opening for me was an understatement. I’ve heard for years Doctors saying “don’t take too much potassium”. Let alone prescribing only 99mg for heart patients. I thought if a heart patient only needed that little per day, I much surely be getting enough. Right?

Don’t count on it! As you will see after reading just the RDA guidelines how practically NONE OF US get enough. How could this be?

I was really surprised to learn how I was getting far less than the Recommended Daily Allowance of Potassium  – BOB REYNOLDS

You will learn in this article:

  • How much should you be getting per day
  • What you would have to eat to be sufficient
  • How to get enough each day
  • Benefits of Potassium

Potassium – An Important Electrolyte

Potassium is a mineral and is the most important electrolyte our bodies need every single day.  Without Potassium your health can suffer from numerous problems, and if too low can be life threatening.  It is for this reason you need to learn more about this essential nutrient that almost all of us are just not getting enough on a daily basis.

Electrolytes conduct electricity when combined with water and help our cells with energy, rebuild tissue, hydrate the body and regulate blood pressure.

Other electrolytes that you might have heard of and are crucial for our existence include:

  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium
  • Calcium
  • Chloride
  • Phosphate
  • Bicarbonate

What do Electrolytes do?

It is important to have enough of each of these electrolytes as they work together to keep our bodies in good working order. Problems occur if we are deficient in one or more of these nutrients, or there is an imbalance of proportions between these minerals.

Electrolytes Help Your Body By:

  • Regulating and Hydrating Your Body With Water
  • Helps Cells Move Nutrients Into Your Cells
  • Keeps Your Bodies PH In Proper Levels
  • Regulates Blood Pressure
  • Helps The Heart Beat
  • Involved In Muscle Contraction
  • Helps The Nervous System

You Are Not Getting Enough Potassium

So how do I know this?  You don’t have to be psychic to make this statement.  The sad fact is that only 2% of the United States population actually get enough Potassium on a daily basis.  That’s not good.

To make matters worse, we are getting way too much salt (sodium) in our diets.  Potassium and Sodium need to be in balance.  The National Institutes of Health has a short abstract that spells out this imbalance of Sodium and Potassium Intake that should really open your eyes.  You can find these facts and figures in many other places, but the bottom line is that most of us need to make changes.

Symptoms of Low Potassium

Extremely low levels of Potassium in the body is called Hypokalemia and can be quite dangerous.  These low levels can be determined by a blood test.

Signs of Hypokalemia are:

  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Glucose Intolerance

Signs of a moderately low levels of Potassium are:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Higher Risk of Stroke
  • Risk of Kidney Stones
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Constipation

How Much Potassium Per Day Should You Get?

The short answer is 4,700 mg per day, for adults.  Some might require even more, for example athletes and those with high stress.  If you can get this much of Potassium each day it should help maintain lower blood pressures, reduce the risk of stroke, and counteract the effects of too much salt in your diet.

Sad to say for most of us, the daily consumption is half of what we need.  And looking at what many people do, and more importantly don’t eat, those numbers could probably be lower.

Most People Can’t Eat Enough Potassium Every Single Day

I can just hear the experts making comments to this statement!  And I know what they are saying.  Just eat enough of the right vegetables and foods high in potassium and you will be just fine.  And by the way, here are the foods you must eat every day.  Easy right?

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Just learn these quick tips and you are on the road to good health.  That’s like saying “go to school, get a good job, and you will never have to worry about money”.  Maybe in a perfect world, but unfortunately, we don’t live there.

What you need to know is that when you read these other articles, they are “technically right” but almost always omit the FULL STORY.  Let me explain.

You can easily find information that for example avocados, bananas, and white beans are excellent choices of high potassium foods.  And you can find lists that have all the excellent foods you should eat and their respective amounts per cup or ounce.  Also, good.

But what most leave out of the equation is just what does a FULL DAY of eating consist of, and depending on your health conditions, is this feasible or even a good idea.

What if you are diabetic?  What about if you are on a special diet to lose weight or a diet to address an underlying illness or health condition?  Is this high Potassium Diet going to work for you?

What A Day Of High Potassium Foods Looks Like

I want to show you the Big Picture of just what a full day of high potassium foods looks like.  I guarantee that not only myself, but almost all of you would never sit down and eat this much of this kind of food each and every day.

Here is a list of some of the food recommendations containing the highest concentrations of Potassium.

7 to 10 Cups of Salad – Per Day.  Ok, I have to laugh at this one as I can just imagine someone placing this HUGE bowl of salad greens in front of most of you and saying, “just eat this much each and every day” and you are good to go. This is just not feasible or practical for the majority of folks out there.

How would you fit all that salad in per day and also get the correct amount of Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats we also should have?  Juicing comes to mind, but a lot of people just don’t like drinking raw vegetable juice.

I'd Suggest Buying a Juicer or Building a Bigger Pantry!
Multiple heads of lettuce in a basket

Some Other Food Options

There are many other foods high in Potassium that we could exchange for some of that huge amount of salad greens.   And because there is a large number of variations of foods that we could mix together, I’ll keep it simple.

Here are food examples with some of the highest Potassium levels per cup and just how many cups per day you need if you only ate that one food group.  So, let’s do the math.

  • White Beans – 5 Cups per day
  • Avocado – 4.2 Cups per day or approximately 8 Avocados
  • Salad – 10 cups per day
  • Milk – 12 cups per day
  • Broccoli – 10 cups per day
  • Orange Juice – 10 cups per day
  • Baked Potato – 9 medium potatoes per day
  • Salmon – 34 oz or over 2 Pounds of Fish
  • Raisins – 3.6 Cups per day
  • Poultry – 3.7 Pounds per day

Are you getting the picture?  And this example is eating ONLY one food that is the highest in Potassium to meet our daily needs.

What about the cost?  Eating 2 pounds of Salmon per day could get mighty expensive.  So, you are obviously going to replace some of the expensive foods like meat, fish, and avocados with veggies.  This is a good idea economically, but now you have a problem with the volume of food you would have to consume to make up the difference.

And are you forgetting about the calories and carbs?  Sure, you go back to eating JUST SALAD. That will work, IF you can digest that amount every day.  Many people would have problems with that.

Happy eating just salad all day?  For people able to eat a normal diet, what about the other foods you love?  Like the occasional ice cream, sweets, bread, and the like.  Only the die-hard dieters will constantly avoid these treats.  The rest of us will surely struggle.

This Is How Many Cups of High Potassium Foods You Would Have To Eat Each Day
Chart showing how many cups of each food delivers your daily potassium requirements

Take Potassium Supplements To Meet Your Daily Requirements

The only practical way to make sure you are consistently fulfilling your daily requirements of Potassium is to implement supplements to at least some degree.  A few will be able to be stick to a regimented diet, but for the rest of the us, we must combine good food with some type of Potassium replacement.

Now comes another snag.  In the United States and many other countries, there is a restriction to the amount of Potassium that can be in each pill, which is a ridiculous 99mg.  Wait a minute.  You now know that the Daily Recommendations are 4,700 mg per day, so how is taking ONE pill with that small amount going to do anything?

Sad to say, this is some of the nonsense and “politics” that I’ve found in the vitamin supplement industry.  I’ve mentioned before that my own mother was given a prescription for low potassium levels and that bottle was also restricted to 99mg.  That has now changed in some places, but what was someone thinking?  Did the doctors really think that that small amount was going to change her extremely low Potassium levels?

My own Cardiologist warned me of taking too much Potassium, yet he didn’t even know how much that was!  I replied, “don’t remember seeing a warning label on the bottle of Low Sodium V-8 juice that gives me 518 mg of Potassium per glass”.  (By the way…5 times the dose of one pill)   And considering that Potassium is so important for heart health, it amazes me to know how few doctors are knowledgeable in this subject.

Of course if you Doctor doesn’t know about Potassium, then it might be safe to say they also don’t know much about the other important nutrients like Magnesium and CoQ10 that all work together for good heart health.

Great Sources of Potassium From Foods
Foods high in potassium

Practical Solutions to Getting Enough Potassium

Many experts suggest that it is always best to try to eat right but then use supplements to make up the difference when diet along is just not practical.  Eat as much of the foods high in Potassium as you can, calculate the short-comings, and top off your daily requirements with supplements.

Potassium Gluconate will be your best form of this mineral.  And because of the larger amounts you will probably need to get up to your daily limit, the powdered form will be your best bet.  It is an inexpensive and easy way to tailor the dose depending on your food intake for the day.

 

Conclusion: Talk to your Integrative Doctor or Naturopath to discuss your optimal levels of Potassium that you should be getting each day. Then work out a diet plan that adheres to any other special dietary requirements you need and eat as much of the high Potassium foods you can afford and consume.

If you still are not meeting your daily requirements with food alone, then your only option is to use Potassium Supplements to make up any difference to maintain optimal health.

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