Potassium: The Dos and Don’ts

flygyal bananas

By Kristin Yancy

Potassium is a mineral the body uses to maintain heart health, kidney health, and aids in the transmission of signals from the nervous system to the muscular system. It also helps combat some of the harmful effects of sodium on blood pressure. Because of this, potassium is ultimately crucial for life.

If you are eating a healthy diet, you are probably getting enough potassium. An unhealthy diet or a diet that is not well rounded may lead to potassium deficiency. According to WebMD, potassium deficiency can be more common in people who:

-are on certain medications, such as diuretics or some birth control pills

-have physically demanding jobs

-are athletes

-have conditions that affect their digestive absorption, like Crohn’s disease

-have an eating disorder


-abuse alcohol or drugs

For adults 18 years and up, the FDA recommends 4,700 mg of potassium a day. If taking a supplement works best for you, than make sure you follow any potassium pills with a full glass of water or juice. Many people find that it is easy enough to include natural sources of potassium in their diet. Potassium can be found in large quantities in the following foods:




Citrus Fruits

Leafy Green Vegetables



Keep in mind that some methods of cooking can destroy the potassium in foods. Boiling, in particular, can be detrimental, as the potassium escapes from food in cooking liquids and water vapor. Steaming or broiling is the best way to retain the most potassium in cooked foods. Of course, if possible, eating these foods raw will yield greatest results (always be careful when eating raw foods- not everything is safe!).  Check with your doctor before making any major changes to your diet or taking any supplements, especially if you are on any regular medications.

Thanks to WebMD, Men’s Fitness, Medline Plus, and Nutrition for Dummies for the quick and easy potassium run down!

Photo via NutritionFacts.org.


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