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Are You Getting Enough Potassium?

Deficiency in potassium symptoms:

  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • muscle spasms and fatigue, leg cramps, and ‘restless leg syndrome’
  • hypertension (increased blood pressure)
  • can cause kidney stones
  • in the most severe cases, heart attacks

What causes potassium deficiency?

  • people eating mostly processed foods
  • consuming excessive quantities of licorice
  • severe vomiting or diarrhea
  • anorexia or bulimia
  • alcoholism
  • excessive salt intake
  • diuretics
  • magnesium deficiency
  • certain medications (diuretics, laxatives, cortisone, aspirin, cardiac drugs, steroids)

Rare: Too Much Potassium

Although having ratio of potassium too high is rare, it is possible. It is usually due to other medical conditions such as diabetic kidney disease and Hypokalemia which is the inability of the kidneys to filter out excess potassium from the body. The consequences can be fatal. If potassium becomes too high one may feel some weakness, numbness and tingling and can cause an irregular heartbeat or a heart attack. Again, this is rare.

If this is your condition, limit foods that are high in potassium. Here is a List of Food Very Low in Potassium.

Caution: If you think you have a medical problem, consult your physician. There is as simple blood test to detect low or high levels of potassium.

Most people eat way too much salt, sugar, and fats–which are the only food substances with no potassium in them. The no-potassium foods are table salt, sugar, pancake syrups, hard candies, cornstarch, baking powder, shortening, and salad oils (peanut, olive, sesame, sunflower, safflower, corn, soybean and canola). So, if your diet is full of these, then you may be potassium deficient.

Fortunately most real foods contain potassium so being deficient does not have to be a problem.

Demonstration of Real Food vs Junk Food

My thoughts are that unless you do have a serious medical condition as talked about above, this need not be a problem if you eat a wide variety of whole foods, not stuff out of packages. This real food video and article explains real foods.

Top 5 High Potassium Foods

Out of that whole list of foods, these 5 are what I would consider the healthiest choices. You can easily eat lots of them; none of them are fattening!

1. White Beans 1,189
2. Winter Squash 896
3. Beet Greens 1,309
4. Swiss chard 960
5. Spinach 839

To help you and make it easy I have made a 3 page list of the Highest Potassium Foods with two categories:

  • 20 Highest Potassium Foods
  • 34 Second Highest Potassium Foods

Recipes High in Potassium:

Power Spinach Salad: You just HAVE TO  know how to make a good spinach salad. This one is great and the spinach with give you a potassium boost.

Immune Booster Fruit Salad: Lots of high potassium kiwi fruit in this yummy fruit salad.

Bean Vegetable Stew: This recipe is full of three very high potassium foods.  Potassium is just one of the ways this stew is good for you.

Baked Squash with Vegetables: This meal with high potassium squash and potatoes is so so tasty.

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Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Health, Restless Leg Syndrome, ,

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Diana Herrington

Diana Herrington turned a debilitating health crisis into a passion for helping others with healthy, sugar-free, gluten-free, eating and cooking. After testing and researching every possible healthy therapy on her delicate system she has developed simple, powerful principles which she shares in her recent book Eating Green and Lean, and as host to Care2 groups: Healthy Living Network and Healthy Cooking. She is the head chef at Real Food for Life, where she shares recipes and tips. Sign up for the Real Food for Life weekly newsletter or catch her on Facebook or Twitter (@DancinginLife).


+ add your own
2:17PM PDT on Oct 16, 2014

Thank you for the article! My last CBC revealed I was a little low on potassium. I have struggled for many years with eating disorders and wonder if that's a contributing factor. I'm working on adding more K to my diet!

3:19AM PDT on Jun 11, 2013

i feel it depends too on our levels of energy expense. the more you put out, the more you need to replenish.

9:07AM PDT on May 15, 2013

I doubt that I get enough of it.... I only eat a banana and stuff like that once in a great while

11:42PM PDT on May 14, 2013

I would love to read more about this

11:15PM PDT on May 14, 2013

I sometimes feel this muscle spasms and leg cramps and I didn't know that it's the symptoms of deficiency in potassium until I read this article. Oh my, thank you for this article!

3:22PM PDT on May 10, 2013


4:01PM PDT on May 5, 2013


1:50AM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

It's funny how many different ways there are to eat correct and survive life...

11:49AM PDT on Apr 27, 2013

INCORRECT: HYPOKALEMIA IS TOO LITTLE POTASSIUM IN THE BLOOD! HYPO means "small" just as hypoglycemia is too little glucose in the blood.

2:02AM PDT on Apr 27, 2013

thank you for sharing

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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