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What You Need To Know About Potassium

 

  Back to HealthBites

Vitamin C

Potassium is an electrolyte and an essential mineral for the body to stay healthy. It plays a role in the function of your bones, kidneys, heart and muscles, and helps control activity of the nervous system.


Meeting Your Potassium Needs

Potassium has many roles in the function of the body such as:

  • Maintaining cells' balance of water and electrolytes
  • Allows nerves and muscles to work together
  • Maintaining a normal blood acidity level
  • Facilitating muscle contraction, including heart rhythm
  • Keeping fluids balanced in the blood and tissue
  • Helping control blood pressure

Healthy individuals don't usually require a potassium supplement unless a doctor recommends it. It's best to meet your potassium needs from eating a variety of foods.


Low Potassium: Hypokalemia

A potassium deficency, called hypokalemia, can result in many health problems such as high blood pressure, risk of kidney stones and low calcium levels in the bones.

Symptoms of low potassium might be:

  • Cramps and pain in the leg
  • Dry mouth
  • Unexplained fatigue and weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat (severe cases)
  • Confusion
  • Thirst
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Nausea or vomiting

High potassium: hyperkalemia

Getting too much potassium with your daily diet is rare, but potassium supplements can cause acute toxicity in healthy individuals.

Symptoms of high potassium include:

  • Stomach irritation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Weakness, heaviness of the legs
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tingling in hands, feet or lips
  • Changes in heart rate

Common Food Sources of Potassium

Most people get enough potassium by eating a balanced diet on a daily basis. Bananas are known as a good source, but other fruits and vegetables such as berries, kiwis, apricots, avocados, leafy greens and potatoes are also rich in potassium.

See the table below for the potassium content of some common foods.

Vitamine C
Food GroupFoodServing sizePotassium (mg)
Vegetables and Fruit
Potato, with skin, baked1 medium926
Tomato paste60 mL (¼ cup)707
Potato, without skin, baked 1 medium548
Sweet potato, baked, skin removed after baking1 medium542
Avocado½ fruit487
Banana1 medium422
Spinach, frozen, cooked125 mL (½ cup)303
Tomato1 medium292
Kiwifruit1 large284
Papaya½ medium278
Raisins60 mL (¼ cup)275
Apricots, raw3 medium272
Squash, winter, all varieties, baked125 mL (½ cup)261
Beets, raw125 mL (½ cup)234
Carrots, raw1 large230
Grain Products
Cereal, bran125 mL (½ cup)312
Cereal, granola125 mL (½ cup)166
Cereal, bran (flakes)30 g (¾ cup)144
Oats, instant, cooked175 mL (¾ cup)143
Bread, whole wheat1 slice (35 g)72
Milk and Alternatives
Milk, chocolate (2%, 1%)250 mL (1 cup)448
Buttermilk250 mL (1 cup)391
Yogurt, plain or fruit bottom, all types175 g (¾ cup)362
Milk, 2%250 mL (1 cup)361
Milk, homogenized 3.3%250 mL (1 cup)340
Meat and Alternatives
Halibut, baked75 g (2.5 oz)396
Pork, cooked75 g (2.5 oz)319
Non-Meat Sources
Beans (pinto, kidney, navy, black), cooked175 mL (¾ cup)550
Lentils, cooked175 mL (¾ cup)540
Pumpkin seed kernels60 mL (¼ cup)454
Chickpeas/garbanzo beans, canned175 mL (¾ cup)256
Almonds, dry roasted60 mL (¼ cup)250
Peanut, dry roasted60 mL (¼ cup)235
Tofu, extra firm, raw150 g (¾ cup)231
Cashew nuts, dry roasted60 mL (¼ cup)196
Eggs, cooked2 large114
Other
Blackstrap molasses15 mL (1 Tbsp)518
Coffee, brewed250 mL (1 cup)86

The information in this resource is for general information purposes only and is not intended to replace informed medical advice. Consume foods according to any dietary guidelines you have been provided from a health care professional. Metro Ontario Pharmacies Limited assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of the information.


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