What is potassium?

Potassium is an essential mineral that is needed by all tissues in the body. Potassium is sometimes called an electrolyte because it carries a small electrical charge that activates various cell and nerve functions. 

Potassium is found naturally in many foods and as a supplement. Its primary role in the body is to help maintain normal fluid levels inside our cells. Sodium, its counterpart, maintains normal fluid levels outside of cells. Potassium also helps muscles to contract and supports normal blood pressure.

Potassium Benefits

  • Regulates kidney function
  • Improves heart health
  • Aids muscle contraction
  • Supports nerve transmission

How much potassium do you need per day?

  • Adult Women: 2,600 mg
  • Adult Men: 3,400 mg
  • Pregnant/Breastfeeding Women: 2,800 – 2,900 mg

Natural sources of potassium

  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Potatoes
  • Winter squash
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Beet greens
  • Avocado
  • Cantaloupe
  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Coconut water
  • Tomatoes
  • Dairy milk 
  • Yogurt
  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Chicken
  • Salmon

Learn about potassium deficiency symptoms.

Further reading: Harvard School of Public Health, National Institutes of Health