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    Getting Enough Potassium

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    Topic Overview

    Why is potassium important?

    Your body needs potassium to help your muscles contract, maintain fluid balance, and maintain a normal blood pressure. Normal potassium levels in the body help to keep the heart beating regularly. Potassium may help reduce your risk of kidney stones and also bone loss as you age.

    Healthy kidneys keep the right amount of potassium in the blood to keep the heart beating at a steady pace. If you have kidney disease, potassium levels can rise and affect your heartbeat. Be sure to talk with your health professional to determine if you should restrict your intake of foods that contain large amounts of potassium.

    What is the recommended daily amount of potassium?

    Most people do not get enough potassium.

    Recommended potassium by age 1
    Age (years) Recommended potassium intake (milligrams a day)
    1-3 3,000
    4-8 3,800
    9-13 4,500
    14 and older 4,700
    Women who are breast-feeding 5,100

    Women who are pregnant need the same amount of potassium as other women their age.

    How can you get more potassium?

    Potassium is in many foods, including vegetables, fruits, and milk products. You can figure out how much potassium is in a food by looking at the percent daily value section on the nutrition facts label camera.gif. The food label assumes the daily value of potassium is 3,500 mg. So if one serving of a food has a daily value of 20% of potassium, that food has 700 mg of potassium in one serving. Potassium is not required to be listed on a food label, but it can be listed.

    Estimates of potassium in certain foods 2
    Food Serving size Potassium amount (milligrams)
    Cooked spinach 1 cup 840 mg
    Sweet potato 1 medium 695 mg
    Plain nonfat yogurt 8 ounces 579 mg
    Banana 1 cup 540 mg
    Cooked broccoli 1 cup 460 mg
    Cantaloupe 1 cup 430 mg
    Tomato 1 cup 430 mg
    Fat-free milk 8 ounces 380 mg
    Strawberries 1 cup 255 mg

    Tips for adding potassium foods to your healthy diet:

    • Add spinach or other leafy greens to your sandwiches.
    • Toss fresh or dried apricots into plain nonfat yogurt for a snack.
    • Enjoy a cup of low-sodium bean soup for lunch.
    • Eat a small baked potato or sweet potato instead of bread at dinner.
    1 | 2

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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