Potassium helps maintain the balance of the fluid system in the body, assists nerve function, and is related to heart muscle contraction. Symptoms of deficiency include cramping, muscle weakness, mood changes, irregular heartbeat, and high blood pressure.
While the RDA of Potassium is 4,700mg, according to the 2015 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the average daily Potassium intake for the past 2 decades has hovered around 2,500 mg per day for Americans. Note that RDAs are recommended minimums to avoid serious illness. The optimal amount for Potassium is estimated to be 10,000-15,000mg per day (4). For example, pre-agricultural humans are calculated to have consumed an average of 10,500 mg of Potassium each day (3). Fewer than 2% of people nowadays even meet the recommended minimum of 4,700mg, let alone the optimal amount, with women consuming less Potassium than men on average.
For supplementing with Potassium, I recommend Potassium Gluconate, as it is affordable, absorbable, and effective. For getting Potassium from food, the best dietary sources of Potassium are beet greens and spinach, artichokes, tomatoes, seafood, winter squashes, and root vegetables, peaches, plantains, avocadoes, bamboo shoots, bok choy, and dark chocolate.
[Note: While bananas and potatoes are frequently recommended as good sources of dietary Potassium, I recommend against eating bananas and white potatoes as they are sugar-bombs (31g carbs per banana and 37g per potato!), and Potassium can easily be obtained from more healthful, lower sugar foods, as you’ll see in the chart below.]
You’ll also see that the serving sizes I’ve listed in my chart are not necessarily the classic amounts you’ll see in the USDA charts, which is where most of my Potassium data came from. I mean, who is going to eat 1 cup of tomato paste at once? Well, somebody is, I’m sure 😉 but not most folks. And the serving sizes for starchy foods like plantains, winter squashes and sweet potatoes should only be 1/2 cup, IMO, as too many carbs just ain’t good for most people. So I’ve changed the serving sizes to more sensible amounts, and adjusted the relative Potassium quantities accordingly.
Potassium-Rich Foods and Their Potassium Content per Serving