Getting enough potassium is important as this mineral plays a role in blood pressure regulation, metabolism, muscle development and healthy heart function. Although the daily value of potassium is 3,500 mg, the Institute of Medicine recommends higher intakes, suggesting that adults get 4,700 mg a day. Because a variety of foods provide potassium, eating a balanced diet can help you get adequate amounts of this nutrient. Except in cases of malnutrition or eating disorders, a potassium deficiency is typically not a result of inadequate intakes. Most people, however, need to increase their intakes of potassium to meet general recommendations. Consult a doctor before increasing potassium intake as it can seriously interact with certain medications.
Eat a variety of vegetables daily to help you get more potassium in your diet. White potatoes and sweet potatoes, for example, are good sources. Legumes, mushrooms, tomatoes, squash, pumpkin, green pepper, broccoli, corn, beets and leafy vegetables such as spinach and collards all contribute potassium to your diet.
Include whole and dried fruit in your meals and snacks. Bananas are commonly promoted as good sources of potassium, but other sources include cantaloupes, citrus fruits, prunes and apricots. Raisins and dried apricots also make good choices.
Consume a variety of healthy protein foods such as halibut, rockfish, salmon, chicken breast and lean cuts of pork or beef. Soy-based meat substitutes are also effective options for vegetarians who want to increase potassium intake. Other plant-based sources of potassium include pumpkin seeds, pistachios, peanuts, almonds and sunflower seeds.
Incorporate dairy foods into your menus. Skim milk, low-fat cottage cheese and nonfat yogurt all contribute to your potassium intake without adding significant amounts of saturated fat to your diet. Light soy milk is a good alternative to dairy products for vegans wanting to increase potassium intake.
- If you have signs of a potassium deficiency – which may include constipation, fatigue, muscle weakness and irregular heartbeats – consult your doctor about the possible causes and for advice about meeting your dietary and supplemental needs for potassium.
- MedlinePlus: Hypokalemia
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Elements
- MedlinePlus: Potassium in Diet
- University of Massachusetts Medical School: Sources of Dietary Potassium
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23: Potassium Content of Selected Foods
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.