What Is the Role of Potassium?
Potassium plays a role in heart health and regulates kidney function2. As an electrolyte, potassium also carries a small electrical charge and helps the functioning of muscles and nerves3.
If your body is low in potassium, it can raise your blood pressure and increase the risk of kidney stones. Having low potassium can even pull calcium out of your bones2.
To avoid health problems such as these, and to promote overall health, a diet with adequate potassium can be beneficial. To add more potassium to your diet, it’s important to know rich sources of potassium that you can add to your diet.
Potassium and Sodium
Potassium and sodium are linked and have opposite effects on the body. For example, while sodium in your blood can raise blood pressure, potassium can help to relax blood pressure and aids the body to excrete sodium.
A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that individuals with high-sodium, low-potassium diets had a 20% greater chance of dying from heart attack or any other cause4.
How Much Potassium Should I Get Every Day?
Potassium stores in the body are difficult to measure as most potassium resides in cells. Because of this, there are currently no recommended daily allowance (RDA) guidelines for potassium by organizations like the WHO or the FDA. Insufficient evidence exists to give a recommendation.
While providing a comprehensive RDA has proven to be difficult, some health organizations have been able to provide an AI, or Adequate Intake, a level of food intake that ensures “nutritional adequacy” when RDA is not available.
The WHO recommends 3,510mg a day for adults to reduce blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and coronary heart disease5.
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), adequate intakes for potassium are as follows6:
|Age ||Male ||Female ||Pregnancy ||Lactation |
|Birth to 6 months ||400 mg ||400 mg || || |
|7–12 months ||860 mg ||860 mg || || |
|1–3 years ||2,000 mg ||2,000 mg || || |
|4–8 years ||2,300 mg ||2,300 mg || || |
|9–13 years ||2,500 mg ||2,300 mg || || |
|14–18 years ||3,000 mg ||2,300 mg ||2,600 mg ||2,500 mg |
|19–50 years ||3,400 mg ||2,600 mg ||2,900 mg ||2,800 mg |
|51+ years ||3,400 mg ||2,600 mg || |
Sources of Potassium
Many of the foods you eat already have potassium. To increase your intake of potassium, all it takes is a little awareness of rich sources of potassium and small dietary changes. Try to eat more of these foods2: