Potassium is one of the seven essential macromineral needed by the body for its various functions. It is required by all the tissues in the body. It carries a small electrical charge that activates various cell and nerve functions and that is why it is sometimes referred to as an electrolyte. Potassium is found naturally in many foods and also available as a supplement. Since the body can’t produce potassium on its own, it has to be taken in the form of food. It plays a vital role in many functions of the body which includes regulating your heartbeat and blood pressure, muscle contraction, proper nerve conduction, protein and glycogen synthesis.

Benefits of Potassium

Potassium plays a crucial role in maintaining blood pressure as it counteracts the effects of sodium. An increase in potassium intake may decrease urinary calcium, hence, reducing the risk of kidney stones. According to some studies potassium is also believed to reduce the risk of various diseases like stroke and osteoporosis. It is also believed by the Scientists that increased consumption of potassium-rich food or potassium supplementation reduces the net acid content of the diet and may preserve calcium in bones. This makes it beneficial for bone health. An adequate amount of potassium and sodium in the body of a person is very important for a person who exercises in order to avoid muscle cramping. One of the major causes of cellulite is water retention and this happens if people consume more sodium than potassium. Whereas potassium-rich food could help reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Potassium Deficiency

Potassium deficiency could lead to a lot of symptoms and health problems also known as Hypokalaemia. Health issues related to low potassium include fatigue, constipation, weight gain, irritability, muscle cramps, blood pressure problems, nausea, arthritis, heart palpitation, stomach cramps, bloating, cellulite build-up and some sort of abnormal psychological behavior, like depression, confusion or hallucinations. The main reasons for hypokalaemia are vomiting, diarrhea, endurance exercise without proper hydration, and a diet low in fruits and vegetables. Other causes include improper kidney functions or hormone levels.

Recommended Daily Potassium Intake

The DRIs (Daily Recommended Intake) for potassium and sodium was updated by NASEM committee in 2019. Since the data was insufficient to derive an EAR (Estimated Average Requirement) for potassium, they established AIs (Adequate Intake) for all ages.

For healthy individuals, the current AIs for potassium are as follows:-

Birth to 6 months400 mg400 mg
7–12 months860 mg860 mg
1–3 years2,000 mg2,000 mg
4–8 years2,300 mg2,300 mg
9–13 years2,500 mg2,300 mg
14–18 years3,000 mg2,300 mg2,600 mg2,500 mg
19–50 years3,400 mg2,600 mg2,900 mg2,800 mg
51+ years3,400 mg2,600 mg
SOURCE : [1]

*For individuals having impaired potassium excretion due to medical conditions like kidney disease, these AI do not apply. Also for medications that damage potassium excretion. [1]

Foods Rich in Potassium

There are a lot of food items that contain good amount of potassium. A few of them are listed below

1Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun-Dried tomatoes are ripe tomatoes that lose most of the moisture after being dried in the sun for a considerable amount of time. Even after this procedure, the tomatoes keep their nutritional value. Sun-dried tomatoes are rich in various minerals, vitamins and antioxidants and are a great source of potassium. They are also loaded with vitamin C, Vitamin K and iron and are a good source of fiber too. They are even believed to decrease the risk of certain cancers, neutralize free radicals and decrease inflammation.

  • Per 100g of sun-dried tomatoes has 3427mg potassium. [2]