HEALTH

Potassium Needed In Your Diet – Most Not Getting Nearly Enough

Avocados are very high in potassium

Less than 2% of Americans even get the recommended minimum adequate intake of 4,700 mg of potassium a day. A simple internet search reveals MANY studies which clearly indicate the importance of getting enough potassium in one’s diet.

Why is that important? Because potassium is a highly integral part of one’s well being. Clinical trials and case studies reveal a much higher incidence of stroke and heart disease for those with low levels of potassium compared with what is considered more “normal”.

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology recently reported (Abnormalities of Potassium in Heart Failure), along with other papers on the subject.

A review of all the best studies ever done on potassium intake and its relationship to two of our top killers, stroke and heart disease, was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

A 1,600mg per day higher potassium intake was associated with a 21% lower risk of stroke. That still wouldn’t get the average American up to the minimum adequate intake, but it might be able to wipe out a fifth of their stroke risk.

The paper concludes: “These results support recommendations for higher consumption of potassium-rich foods to prevent vascular diseases.”

~ nutritionfacts.org

Potassium is a mineral. It’s an element. It works as an electrolyte in your body.

Approximately 98% of potassium in your body is inside your cells. Only a very small portion of it is out in the bloodstream at any given time. Your body tightly controls how much is in your bloodstream. Because too much or too little can cause problems. Your body is very good at controlling this.

If you have normal kidney function, you almost can’t eat too much potassium because your body just regulates it. It will put as much as it needs to inside your cells for storage, and you will just urinate the rest away.

The way you’ll know if you don’t have enough potassium is you’ll have muscle cramps. You’ll wake up in the middle of the night and do the “muscle cramp dance”… It’s no fun, and it’s painful. It’s your body saying “Hey Dummy, feed me more potassium”.

Potassium is vital for your nerves to conduct efficiently. Your muscle function is also the same way. Your heart is a muscle (don’t forget that!). The ability for your heart to pump and push out blood hinges upon your potassium content.

There’s research that suggests potassium helps lower blood pressure. It probably helps prevent Osteoporosis (weak brittle bones). Helps prevent heart attack and stroke. And probably helps prevent dementia as well.

The standard American diet and the “modern” diet in most countries is very low in potassium.

Why am I interested in this subject?

It is an essential mineral needed in your body. Your body is unable to make it, so it must come from your daily diet.

Well, I’m on a bit of a health kick lately. During these times it is important to optimize one’s health and immune system as best we can. While in the process of research and discovery, I came across the importance of potassium (and the fact that most Americans are seriously deficient!).

As some of you know, I’m eating Ketogenic / Carnivore. A very low carb diet. It has been outstanding, and I feel great as a result. This way of eating results in less veg in general (some of which are completely removed from diet because of their very high carb/starch content). Though there are plenty of veggies that are adequately low in net carb content while being careful to stay below 20 grams a day.

I became aware of the importance of potassium because the Keto way of eating cuts out some of the foods (veg) which are high in potassium (e.g. bananas, potatoes, and others). But the Ketogenic diet also emphasizes the high importance of hydration / water and proper electrolytes. Potassium is a VERY important part of electrolytes – but is surprisingly absent from many of the popular electrolyte mixes out there!

So I decided to focus on what potassium-rich foods that I can eat while attempting to get somewhere close to 4500 mg of potassium each day.

The Average Adult Needs From 3500 – 4700 mg of Potassium Each Day

Your body needs this potassium for 1000’s of functions, including muscle and brain function. Without enough potassium in your diet you will suffer.

For most people, leg muscle cramps are the first indication of low potassium. Most people who start keto already have very low potassium levels from their previous SAD Diet. There are many keto foods rich in potassium which you can use to replenish your potassium stores.

~ Dr. Ken Berry

Which Ketogenic Foods Are Highest In Potassium

Avocado

The avocado has a ton of potassium in it. An avocado has more than a banana and way less carbohydrates. I eat one whole avocado a day. Depending on its size the avocado may have up to 700 mg of potassium!

Leafy Greens

Any leafy green is going to have plenty of potassium. Just be conscious of the carbs per serving that you’re consuming (if you’re on Keto), though most leafy greens are pretty low in carbs. I just pulled out a small 8 ounce can of Leaf Spinach, and the label indicates 960 grams of potassium in the can!

Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Asparagus

Lots of potassium and they’re relatively low carb. Generally up to 300 mg per 100 grams (3.5 ounces).

Several Different Fish Have a Goodly Amount of Potassium

Cod, Halibut, and Tuna. And they’re very low carbohydrates. All three types of fish have up to 500 mg potassium per 100 grams (3.5 ounces).

Brazil Nuts and Hazel Nuts

Be careful with the carb content. Some nuts have much higher carbs than others. With that said, three Brazil nuts have about 100 mg of potassium. Just one Brazil nut also contains up to 90 mcg of selenium (more than the daily requirement). One ounce of Hazel nuts (about 20 whole kernels) has about 190 mg of potassium.

Red Meat

Any red meat, especially the liver is going to have plenty of potassium. 3 ounces of beef has about 250 mg of potassium. So that 12 ounce delicious steak has about 1000 mg!

Clams are a very rich source of potassium

Just 3 ounces of clams have about 500 mg. Lots of good selenium too.

Dr. Ken Berry on Potassium:

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40 Comments

  1. Potassium is very important. Too much or too little greatly affects the heart rate and you can get muscle cramps with low K. One of the test before a surgery is to test the K in your blood. I take a 99mg capsule everyday which is 2% of the daily need.

    1. Great info as I’m going to start a Mediterranean diet next week which is based on fish, poultry, vegetables, low carbs and olive oil instead of butter.

    2. Other mineral deficiencies can also cause cramps. Magnesium is my most common offender. A single TBSP milk of mag is enough to stop my cramps quickly.. heating pad relieves the residual soreness..
      Low Magnesium is associated w/ blood pressure sudden changes…low or high.-we noted with dh who was having a fib.could not give meds for a fib/ pressure was too low..
      The heart needs the proper amounts of MANY nutritional substances to beat properly.
      ..Do your research, and if potassium does not stop muscle cramps within a few minutes – seek medical care IMMEDIATELY< this becomes a medical emergency quickly>..or try magnesium…if medical caregiver is not available.
      Note some Keto friendly foods have adequate magnesium.. it is all about balance, Your personal choices, knowledge, activity levels and management.

      1. Just Sayin’

        Thanks for your insights. I have come to rely on your knowledge. Thank you. We all have areas of knowledge and those areas are diverse.

      1. I thought so. Supplements don’t usually have enough potassium to matter. Magnesium is important too, though

  2. Thanks Ken, I have to adjust my supplements from time to time as I don’t eat nearly as much as I did in my youth. It would appear that I am deficient in Potassium.

  3. Kale is really good for you, our favorite way to eat it, blanched, cut up like lettuce then chilled and made into a slaw, excellent especially if you are doing keto, the slaw matches with meats

    1. You should be a kalefarmer, ha ha, I couldn’t help it. (I’ll keep my day job).
      Kale is one of our favorites and grows throughout our cold Wisconsin winter. In the summer we put it in the juicer. I wonder how stinging nettles do with potassium?

      1. I was, produced around 65,000# a year for a couple local markets, then along came the FSMA,

        who is John Galt!

          1. Kulafarmer,

            Of course. I remember that one…so vague, and holes so big you could drive a semi through.

          2. Farmgirl,,,
            ya, fun stuff, our state has their ownregs on top of the feds, and now our county voted in alltheir democrap glory to form a department of agriculture, that no doubt will have even more regs,,,,
            so now im a homesteader. I have some beautiful fallow ground here, amazing the effect numerous years of cover cropping has on soils in a place like this.
            got to get me some goats

          1. My cousin’s wife makes a version with olive oil/salt and a splash of apple cider vinegar to lightly coat the kale and then bakes!!!super delicious!

      2. In Wisconsin here also, so curious about this. Do you use hoop houses or something else to counter the snow and cold temps?

        1. Yooper: I used cold-frames in my Wisconsin garden. A person can make them from old windows. You make a “box” in the ground and have the “box” have a higher side (so it slants to catch more sun and for the snow to fall off easier), then use hinges to attach an old glass window up top….or depending on your home, you can do it right next to the house with the hinged glass top attached to the house (which is even better as you’ve got the house blocking some of the cold. Lots of heartier foods can grow in a cold-frame.

      3. Kale farmer, bummin’,

        My other half had dehydrated 4 qrts. of kale this fall…
        She said she did it all for me, since I love it so much🤮

    2. For me, kale goes straight to the freezer in a big freezer bag—the next day I squish the bag and the kale breaks into thousands of little pieces (and then also takes up much less freezer space). I just scoop some into soups, smoothies (especially the kale stems which don’t quite break up during the squish-process), casseroles, spaghetti sauce, etc. I do the same with spinach, collard greens, etc.

  4. Probably coincidence Ken posted this article after I just mentioned drinking low potassium content orange drink for breakfast. I’ve cut back on potassium rich foods on doctor’s advice. Since bypass surgery, my blood potassium levels have been running high…a sign of slowing kidney function.

    This hasn’t always been so…in fact, I had an episode when younger, after a football game, where I suddenly experienced cramping of all the major muscle groups simultaneously…team doctor injected me with potassium on the spot…muscles started relaxing almost immediately…I honestly don’t know what would have happened had she not known immediately what to do.

    I’ve always been a heavy sweater when doing physical labor…up until a few years ago…I suspect I sweated off a lot of my potassium…but no more..one of the reasons I have cut back…to take a load off my kidneys.

    1. You mentioned bypass surgery
      so be aware that certain meds can affect your potassium levels
      Classes like ACEI (lisinopril/ramapril) or ARB (Losartan/valsartan/olmesartan)
      or water pill like Spironolactone tend to keep potassium levels higher

      water pill like furesomide (lasix ) make you lose potassium and are usually prescribed with KCl (potassium supplement)

    2. One strange but good thing about Covid, since it showed up, death by cancer, strokes and heart attacks is way down. Trekker Out

  5. coconut water has a decent amount of potassium
    about 405mg of potassium per cup (low sodium 30mg)

  6. So.. for suppliments?
    Potassium odide/ Potassium Citrate/ Potassium gloconate/ Potassium Chloride/ Potassium Aspartat/ Potassium Orotate.
    Or the regular old bottle that just says “potassium”?

    1. Potassium chloride is better for oral replacement of K and is more commonly used due to
      more absorption and more potassium equivalent per gram
      and better GI absorption overall
      (Chloride loss seen due diuretic use or diarrhea/vomit)
      KCl is also acidic
      the potassium gluconate is more alkaline and likely to be used for those who suffer from kidney stones

      there’s conversions to be done to calculate potassium levels
      as there’s mg and mEq as measure

      1. Potassium iodide is more likely for thyroid issues and radiation emergencies NOT primarily for low potassium

        potassium citrate is used for making urine less acidic and helping to get rid of Uric acid (primarily for preventing gout or kidney stones)

  7. Maca root powder is high in iron, iodine, Manganese and Zinc, Calcium and Potassium, B Vitamins and Vitamin C so says an article at leaf.tv

  8. Lite Salt varieties also have potassium. Mr’s dad was to have a knee replacement surgery and his potassium was too high because he used Lite Salt all of the time.

  9. Not a big fan of avocados but trying to like them because they have health benefits so noticed a new product in the store that’s cabo-fresh squeeze bottle of guacamole. It tastes pretty good, doesn’t go bad so fast and easier for me to use.

    In the summer, used Liquid IV powder mixed in water to replace electrolytes. Worked well and does have potassium in it.

    Lastly, the article noted low potassium can cause leg cramps. Not sure if related to this or not, but noticed that coffee may cause leg cramps. Read an article that a man on a keto diet had leg cramps and stopped drinking coffee and they went away.

    1. Coffee tend to act like a diuretic with the potassium loss through the urine
      also add in some dehydration/volume loss with electrolyte imbalance and voila! Cramps!

      and yes most salt replacement is potassium based instead of sodium base KCl instead of NaCl

  10. My wife had her gallbladder out years ago due to inflammation, and ever since, she’s had to contend with dreaded “bile dumping.” Well, this depletes her potassium and, as a result, severely low K has snuck up on her a few times. She drinks high quality coconut water, a glass of fresh squeezed OJ and raisins, along with Magnesium and Potassium supplements daily, but sometimes if the bile goes on for a couple of days, it drops to the critical level of 2.7 or so (normal is 3.5-5.0) and she’s in the ER getting it replaced and her heart rate lowered. It mostly affects her heart rate and causes tremendous weakness for her. She has a congenital heart defect, so she’s already on a medicine to keep her heart rate lowered, so we know when it starts really cookin’ along to supplement more and watch very carefully. Things can head South very quickly with low K.

  11. I realize this is about “in your diet.” All good info. Anyone even thinking about intravenous K should not. Must be monitored closely. Too much can cause myocardial infarction. A heart attack. You could wake up dead. I assume the powder drink mix, mentioned above, is quite safe.

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