Getting the Right Amount of Potassium for Optimal Health

Potassium is an essential mineral for maintaining good health, and consuming 3,500 to 4,700 milligrams of certain fruits and vegetables each day can reduce the risk of kidney stones, strokes, and high blood pressure. While bananas and potatoes are well-known sources of potassium, other food groups also contain this essential nutrient. Meat, legumes, nuts, and dairy products are all excellent sources of potassium that can help you reach the recommended AI of 4.7 grams per day. Beetroot leaves are often overlooked as a nutritious vegetable, but they are packed with minerals and vitamins.

One cup of cooked beetroot leaves contains more than 1,310 milligrams of potassium, four grams of fiber, 35 milligrams of vitamin C, and 11,000 international units of vitamin A. Natural fat-free yogurt is another great source of potassium, with more than 500 milligrams in one cup. Low-fat yogurt is also a good source, but yogurt made with whole milk isn't as impressive when it comes to potassium content. Greek yogurt isn't as high in potassium as plain fat-free yogurt either.

Fish is another great source of potassium. Salmon and tuna both contain some potassium, but halibut is the best source. A 5-ounce baked halibut fillet contains 500 milligrams of potassium plus various minerals, essential fatty acids, and niacin. Bananas are well known for their high potassium content; a medium banana has more than 400 milligrams of potassium.

It also has plenty of B vitamins, 3 grams of fiber, and about 100 calories. For people without kidney problems, the body is very good at controlling the right amount of potassium in the system. It is recommended that people with healthy kidneys eat at least 4.7 grams of potassium a day. In the early stages of kidney disease, problems with high potassium levels usually don't occur because the kidneys can still get rid of excess potassium.

However, for people whose kidneys aren't working normally, there comes a time when the kidneys can no longer get rid of excess potassium. Potassium buildup can be very dangerous. More research is still needed to understand how much potassium people with kidney problems should eat. The current recommendations from the National Kidney Foundation are that people with mild to moderate kidney disease (who are not on dialysis) consume 2 to 4 grams of potassium per day.

However, this has not yet been well studied and it also depends in part on the severity of your kidney function or on whether you are taking medications (such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers or liquid pills) that may increase or decrease potassium levels. Reading labels on processed food products for their mineral content can help you make healthy choices that allow you to get your full daily potassium intake without excess sodium. One problem with a low-potassium diet is that many otherwise healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables are high in potassium. Therefore, it's important for people with unhealthy kidneys to learn more about potassium and to know how much they consume.

As long as you're eating a balanced diet with plenty of plant-based foods, you should get enough potassium.

Elijah Rinner
Elijah Rinner

General music maven. Friendly bacon ninja. Wannabe social media geek. Twitter lover. Wannabe internet practitioner. Evil tv geek.