Potassium - Health Benefits

Potassium  – The mineral

Potassium is a very important for proper functioning of the body. It is essential for maintain the electrolyte balance, allowing excess sodium to be eliminated from the body.

Function in the Body

It is especially important in the right amount for regulating nerve transmissions and muscle contractions.

It is needed for heart function, rhythm and lowers risk of stroke and heart attack

It acts with sodium to control the body’s water balance and helps regulate the body’s electrolyte and acid-alkaline (pH) balance

It is involved in synthesis of protein from amino acids and is needed for metabolism and storage of carbohydrates

It is needed for normal body growth and muscle-building

High potassium in the diet, helps reduce the incidence of developing kidney stones by 50 to 65%



Deficiency of potassium causes symptoms such as confusion or irritability

Muscle weakness or twitching or spasms, muscle cramps

Muscular paralysis (in cases of severe potassium deficiency coupled with excessive thyroid hormones in the blood)

Shortness of breath or poor lung function


Recommended Daily Allowance

Infants aged 0-6 months- 400mg

Infants aged 7-12 months –700mg

Children aged 1-3 years – 2000mg

Children aged 4-8 years- 2300mg

Children aged 9-18 years- 2500-3600mg

Adult women aged above 19years- 2800mg

Adult men aged above 19 years- 3800mg



No upper level intake set for intake of potassium. Possible symptoms of toxicity include stomach upsets, intestinal problems or heart rhythm disorder. Extremely high intakes of potassium >17.6 g/d  are usually only obtained with potassium supplements.


Food Sources

Best sources of potassium

Dried Apricot – 100gms – 1900 mg

Potato, baked, flesh and skin – 1 small potato –  738 mg

Prune juice, canned – 1 cup  – 707 mg

Carrot juice – canned 1 cup  – 689 mg

Tomato paste – 1/4 cup – 664 mg

Beet greens – cooked 1/2 cup  – 654 mg

White beans – canned 1/2 cup  – 595 mg

Tomato juice – canned 1 cup  -556 mg

Plain yogurt – nonfat or low fat 8 oz  –579 mg

Tomato puree 1/2 cup  – 549 mg

Sweet potato – baked in skin 1 medium  – 542 mg

Orange juice – fresh 1 cup  – 496 mg

Tuna, yellowfin – cooked 3 oz  – 484 mg

Bananas – 1 medium – 422 mg

Skim milk – 1 cup –  382 mg

Parsnip – boiled 1/2 cup – 296 mg

Green peas – boiled 1/2 cup – 217 mg

Corn, boiled, sweet yellow – 1/2 cup -162 mg

Cauliflower, boiled – 1/2 cup – 14 mg


David A. C. Manning, A.C. (2009). Mineral sources of potassium for plant nutrition. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development
Weaver, C.M. (2013). Potassium and Health . SUPPLEMENT White Vegetables: A Forgotten Source of Nutrients. American Society for Nutrition. Adv. Nutr

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