What Is Potassium?

Reviewed by Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN
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According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, potassium is an underconsumed nutrient, making it a nutrient of public health concern. In May 2016, the FDA announced food manufacturers are required to include potassium content on the Nutrition Facts label.

Potassium is a mineral that, among other things, helps muscles contract, helps regulate fluids and mineral balance in and out of body cells, and helps maintain normal blood pressure by blunting the effect of sodium. Potassium also may reduce the risk of recurrent kidney stones and bone loss as we age.

Guidelines issued by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science encourage adults to consume of at least 4,700 milligrams of potassium every day. That's almost double what most of us actually consume.

Potassium is found in a wide range of foods, especially fruits and vegetables such as leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, pumpkins, potatoes, carrots and beans. It's also found in dairy foods, meat, poultry, fish and nuts.

Reach your recommended daily intake of potassium by frequently adding these foods to your daily menu:

  • 1 medium baked potato with skin: 930 milligrams
  • 1 cup cooked spinach: 840 milligrams
  • 1 cup cooked broccoli: 460 milligrams
  • 1 cup cubed cantaloupe: 430 milligrams
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes: 430 milligrams
  • 1 medium banana: 420 milligrams
  • 1 cup chopped carrots: 410 milligrams
  • 1 cup low-fat milk: 350 to 380 milligrams
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa: 320 milligrams

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