Key Concepts

  • Nearly 100% of Americans are deficient in Potassium
  • AI – 4,700 mg/day
  • UL – not established (toxicity does not occur due to food but can with supplementation)
  • Toxicity is serious – because of this potassium supplements are capped at 99mg/serving
  • Food sources – avocados, baked potatoes (not french fries), bananas, oranges, acorn squash, spinach, sunflower seeds, almonds
  • Potassium Citrate (200mg/serving) – $0.12/serving



Potassium is the main cation in the intracellular fluid (ICF). It is important in the maintenance of the resting membrane potential, fluid balance, cell integrity, nerve impulses, and muscle contraction.

Adequate Intake (AI)

The AI is set at 4,700 mg/day.


It is estimated that nearly 100% of Americans are deficient in potassium. Most adult males are getting about 3100 mg/day while adult females are getting 2300 mg/day.

Hypokalemia (potassium deficiency) can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness and cramps, increased blood pressure, and kidney stones. More serious symptoms include irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness, and cardiac arrest.

Potassium-wasting diuretics (thiazides and furosemide), alcoholism, severe vomiting and diarrhea, overuse or abuse of laxatives, anorexia nervosa or bulimia, and magnesium deficiency can all put an individual at an increased risk for potassium deficiency.

Upper Intake Level (UL)/Excess/Toxicity

No upper intake level (UL) is set for potassium. Toxicity only comes from supplementation, not through food sources. Potassium toxicity (hyperkalemia) is rare; symptoms include muscle weakness, peripheral neuropathy, and cardiac abnormalities (arrhythmias, cardiac arrest). Potassium toxicity may be cause by kidney failure (acute or chronic), medications, and insufficient aldosterone secretion.

In the U.S. potassium supplements are capped at 99mg per serving. This is because over-supplementation can have such serious health consequences such as cardiac arrest. Supplementation is known to cause GI distress which may be avoided by ingesting supplements with food.

Disease Prevention/Treatment

Regular adequate intake of potassium may decrease the risk of having a stroke or developing osteoporosis. Increasing potassium intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure.

Food Sources

Yes, bananas have potassium… lol. But a lot of other foods do too. In fact, avocados have about twice as much as a banana. Go avocados! Surprisingly, baked potatoes do too. Just remember to eat the skin! A lot of the potassium and other nutrients are in the skin. Remember that when eating any fruit and vegetable as well, the skin is where it’s at, eat it too. Another cool fact is that potassium is well absorbed; it is not affected by anti-nutrients such as phytic acid. Further, potato chips and French fries aren’t the same as potatoes; a lot of the potassium and other nutrients are lost during processing.

  • Banana, 1 medium – 422 mg
  • Avocado, raw, California – 1 cup – 1166 mg
  • Avocado, raw, Florida – 1 cup – 807 mg
  • Potato, baked with skin – 1 medium – 926 mg
  • Orange, 1 medium – 237 mg
  • Acorn squash, cooked – 1 cup – 448 mg
  • Spinach, cooked – ½ cup – 420 mg
  • Sunflower Seeds – 1 oz – 241 mg
  • Almonds – 1 oz – 200 mg




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