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Ohio State University Extension



Family and Consumer Sciences
Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, OSU Extension, Fayette County

Are you getting enough potassium in your diet? Potassium helps maintain normal blood pressure by reducing the effect of sodium. About 90 percent of the population in the United States consumes more sodium than recommended with only about 3 percent meeting the recommendations for potassium. Age and racial/ethnic groups have little effect on the amount of sodium and potassium consumed. Research indicates increasing potassium creates a protective effect against hypertension (high blood pressure).

The essential mineral potassium also regulates fluid and mineral balance throughout the body’s cells, helps muscles contract—including your heart—and helps with nerve function. Consuming a high potassium diet has been linked to a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Recent research shows a protective effect of dietary potassium on reducing age-related bone loss and risk of kidney stones. Consuming the recommended potassium levels may be influential in glucose control and the risk of diabetes.

Potassium Requirements

Guidelines from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science recommend people age 14 and over consume at least 4,700 milligrams of potassium every day. For children ages 9 to 13, the potassium recommendation is 4,500 milligrams per day, with children ages 4 to 8 requiring 3,800 milligrams per day. Recommendations for toddlers ages 1 to 3 years old are 3,000 milligrams daily.

Most people only consume about half of the potassium level recommended. To help increase potassium, try following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet; this is higher in potassium, magnesium and calcium. Eating a variety of potassium rich foods daily is the best way to obtain the potassium the body needs.

If too much potassium is consumed, it is normally excreted from the body without any problems. Some medical conditions such as kidney disorders or heart arrhythmias may require limiting potassium consumption.

Ways to Increase Potassium in your Diet

  • Consume five or more (better to consume seven to 11) servings of fruits and vegetables daily, including some high potassium fruits and vegetables. Choose fruits and vegetables for snacks.
  • Drink non-fat or low-fat milk or consume low-fat or non-fat yogurt, both of which contain 300-400 milligrams of potassium.
  • Include beans and legumes in your meals. If buying canned beans, buy no-salt added canned beans or drain the liquid from the can and rinse the beans to reduce the sodium consumed. You can also choose to cook dry beans or legumes.
  • Be sure to prepare sweet potatoes and potatoes with the skin on to get the most potassium.
  • Include lean meats such as fish, chicken and turkey in the diet.

Sources of Potassium

Dietary sources of potassium include a wide range of foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Foods high in potassium include:

Food Portion size Potassium in milligrams
Baked potato with skin 1 medium 941
White beans, canned ½ cup 595
Plain nonfat yogurt 1 cup 579
Sweet potato 1 medium 542
Salmon, Atlantic, wild, cooked 3 ounces 534
Orange juice 1 cup 496
Swiss chard, cooked ½ cup 481
Chili with beans, canned ½ cup 467
Mackerel, halibut or tuna, cooked 3 ounces 443-474
Chocolate low-fat milk 1 cup 418-425
Banana 1 medium 422
Spinach, cooked, fresh or canned ½ cup 370-419
Milk, white, non-fat 1 cup 382
Refried beans, canned ½ cup 380
Avocado ½ cup 364
Tomatoes, fresh ½ cup 214
Carrots, cooked ½ cup 183

Many other fruits, vegetables, dairy, beans, fish, poultry, meat and nuts contain potassium. You can check nutrient levels including potassium levels at


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Originally posted Jun 22, 2017.