Potassium is a mineral that your body needs in the right amount to function properly. It has many roles in the body including:

  • Helping nerves to function properly
  • Allowing muscles to contract
  • Helping keep a regular heartbeat
  • Helping to move nutrients and fluids in and out of cells
  • Limiting sodium’s harmful effects on blood pressure
  • Reducing the risk of recurrent kidney stones
  • Limiting bone loss

Download Healthful Habits: Potassium

How to Get What You Need

Males need 3,400 mg of potassium a day and females need 2,600 mg. A varied healthful diet can provide the needed potassium, although many people don’t consume enough potassium-rich foods to meet the recommended amounts. Good sources of potassium in the diet include leafy greens, grapes and blackberries, root vegetables, citrus fruits, dairy products, meat, poultry, fish and nuts.

The best way to get what you need is to include a good variety of potassium rich foods in your diet daily.

Potassium-Rich Foods 

Food/Beverage  Serving Size Potassium (mg)
Spinach, cooked 1 cup 840
Potato 1 medium 755
Raisins ½ cup 618
Avocado ½ medium 604
Nu-Salt Salt Substitute 1/6 teaspoon 530
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 460
Tomato, diced 1 cup 430
Banana 1 medium 420
Carrots, raw slices 1 cup 390
Fish 3 oz. 380
Lentils, cooked ½ cup 365
Milk, low fat 1 cup 350
Red Beans, Cooked 2/3 cup 340
Quinoa, cooked 1 cup 320
Peanuts 1 oz. 296
Cantaloupe ¼ melon 251


Potassium Supplements 

Obtaining potassium from foods is the best option, but if you are diagnosed with a potassium deficiency, you may not be able to get enough potassium from the foods that you eat. Your doctor may prescribe a supplement to improve your potassium level. Remember to cut the supplement into pieces smaller than an M & M. After 3 months, a lab test should be done to determine if the supplement is providing the level of this nutrient that your body requires. Don’t supplement without a physician’s direction—high potassium levels, just like low potassium levels, can be dangerous.

About Deb Hart

Deb Hart is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. For the last 28 years, she has been helping bariatric surgery patients reach their health and weight goals. She teaches people how to set up a lifestyle that supports a healthy weight. Deb set up her own lifestyle to include lots of long walks with her furry family members, workout classes at her local wellness center, meal prepping, and finding new ways to enjoy foods without added sugar.
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