What Is The Recommended Daily Potassium Intake – When it comes to potassium, most of us (nutritionists included!) don’t think about the metal. Instead, sodium takes all the limelight. And while sodium is an incredibly important nutrient to consider when evaluating our customers’ overall health, potassium can be just as important. Individualization of potassium recommendations should be made for each patient. Read on to find out why and how.
Here’s a truth that shocks both nutrition professionals and the clients I work with: Almost no adult meets their daily potassium needs. This means that most of us are not efficiently moving water (and essential water-soluble nutrients) into our cells, maintaining blood pressure or optimizing nerve and muscle function.
What Is The Recommended Daily Potassium Intake
Before you reach for a banana, here’s the reality: eating more bananas isn’t the answer to getting enough potassium! Healthy adults need about 3,000 mg of potassium per day, and a banana only has about 400 mg. So eating a banana is not the tip your customers need to reach their goal.
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Potassium is ubiquitous in our body. It is found in every organ tissue and is necessary for the normal functioning of cells. It works opposite sodium to bring water, water-soluble vitamins (B, C) and antioxidants into your cells. As a result, it plays a critical role in maintaining the balance of fluids and electrochemical gradients that exist between cell membranes.
This electrochemical gradient enables nerve transmission, muscle contraction, bone density and healthy blood pressure. Virtually every function in our body that makes us walk, talk and breathe normally relies on adequate potassium levels! And because potassium is such an important component of our cellular function, we need significant amounts in our diet.
In short, potassium is essential for transporting water in the body and as a result is vital when it comes to delivering water-soluble nutrients to the body’s cells.
Unfortunately, laboratories alone do not give you the answer. The only way to know is to estimate total potassium intake (from food, drink, supplements) against a person’s needs. Other factors to assess include sodium intake as well as current health and lifestyle factors.
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Given the fact that most Americans don’t get enough potassium per day, it’s safe to assume that most of your customers are deficient as well. A quick look at the chart below will help explain why.
To get enough potassium per day, you should consume something like one cup of coconut water (600 mg), cauliflower (320 mg), cooked Swiss chard (960 mg), lima beans (955 mg), and cooked chickpeas (474 ) mg) per day.
Compare this chart to typical daily food choices for most Americans and you can easily see why most people don’t get enough potassium.
There are several other factors contributing to our collective deficiency, including food access and affordability (especially after the socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic) and popular dietary patterns that limit potassium-rich foods. For example, clients who restrict carbohydrates often eat less beans, bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, and dried fruit—all excellent sources of potassium. Clients who eliminate or reduce dairy products may also be deficient because nondairy alternatives do not naturally provide potassium (although some nondairy products are potassium-fortified).
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For starters, complete a potassium assessment (like the one in The BNP Toolkit™) for each of your clients! Potassium assessments are not routinely done in clinical practice because blood potassium levels are a poor estimate of tissue potassium stores, making it difficult to obtain the client’s pulse or the patient’s true potassium status. Additionally, unless medications or health problems raise concerns about potassium monitoring, practitioners typically do not assess total dietary intake—food, supplements, beverages—for potassium adequacy. But
Once assessed, you can adjust potassium recommendations and share a plan for how this person can work to meet their needs more often.
Note that some conditions may require increased potassium needs, including people with IBD (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), who are likely to have malabsorptive function. Similarly, people who use chronic laxatives may also experience increased potassium requirements due to excess losses through bowel movements.
Those looking to lower blood pressure may also benefit from increasing potassium intake, as it optimizes sodium intake. Finally, lactating women also have increased potassium needs due to the importance of potassium in breast milk.
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Adjusting potassium recommendations can help your clients successfully reach their health goals and optimize their overall health. Remember that you are the professional best qualified to assess your clients’ overall nutrition in the context of their current health, lifestyle and dietary preferences. Offering this service is your competitive advantage!
Here’s how to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this important mineral and health-related topics that may come up when discussing its importance.
Maybe, but maybe not. In fact, sodium intake may be fine, but you may need more potassium to optimize your blood pressure. (These two minerals go hand in hand, so it’s important to understand how sodium intake affects your potassium levels!) Remember, for healthy blood pressure, the body needs better electrolyte balance. Individuals have different reactions to salt (called “salt sensitivity”), but every human body needs potassium to bring water and nutrients to your cells. Also, keep in mind that most of the sodium most of us eat does
Came out of the salt flat! Most sodium is hidden in hidden sources such as processed foods (think snacks, canned soups, frozen foods) and foods prepared in restaurants.
Fewer Than 1 In 5,000 Meet Sodium And Potassium Recommended Intakes
While a little sea salt can provide the body with minerals and less sodium, sea salt contains little or no potassium. Switching to quality sea salt (make sure it’s from clean seas!) can be a tasty option. However, it can also impair iodine intake. Read here to learn more about sea salt and iodine needs.
The short answer: No! You shouldn’t aim to meet your potassium needs with a supplement, and it’s possible to optimize your potassium intake by eating the right foods and drinking the right drinks. However, it can be healthy and helpful to take about 100 mg of a quality multi-mineral or electrolyte support product. If it is within your practice to prescribe potassium as a supplement or medication, be sure to communicate any side effects or how to adjust dietary potassium intake.
They certainly can, as can health problems. Vigorous exercise, profuse sweating, loose stools, drinking alcohol, frequent use of diuretics or laxatives, certain gastrointestinal disorders, and air travel can increase your potassium needs.
Of course, helping patients is our main goal, our raison d’être (raison d’être), right?! But it’s also great for your business. Developing the optimal potassium intake protocol can help with so many different patient goals – hydration, skin, digestion, heart health, immune health, breastfeeding, athletic performance and recovery, and…
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Want to review the BNP Toolkit™, which makes tailoring potassium recommendations and marketing them easier and more effective? Sign up for a live demo.
Better Nutrition Assessments is the first and only set of nutritional assessment forms that can quickly and easily help professionals assess their patients’ nutrition and provide personalized recommendations.
The Practitioner editions allow you to share notes and your business content, while the General Nutrition Assessment forms act as answer keys – providing key assessment results to screen your patients.
We recommend starting any nutrition-related treatment—creating a patient’s nutrition plan, providing general recommendations, or enrolling in a BNP program—with an evaluation. From this initial assessment, you can provide specific data-backed recommendations. You then use the nutrition assessment forms periodically during treatment to monitor progress.
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Show your patients the rewards of their hard work by comparing before and after scores and show them where they can continue to grow and improve.
We all want quick answers and insights – especially when it comes to our health. Testimonials can be used as marketing tools, showing potential customers the value you can offer. Send them to your mailing list and offer free advice by filling out the nutritional assessment form. Or provide them as a courtesy to existing patients as an opening for a larger conversation about your nutrition education offerings.
Purchase of the BNP Toolkit includes lifetime access to the Nutrition Assessment Forms plus one annual update. You can add your logo and extra copy. We integrate many EMRs/EHRs so you can brand them too.
The Better Eating Plan is a digital tool and program you can use to teach clients about better eating principles. This science-backed plan focuses on education and outcomes and includes exercises to help your patients change mindsets and feel like they can make better choices.
How Much Potassium Should Be Consumed Per Day?
The Better Eating Journal helps you and your patients see their daily food choices so you can provide guidance, support and accountability. Patients often think they are making good dietary choices or following the doctor’s prescriptions, but they don’t see any positive results.
With our two-way diary, patients can document the choices they make each day and their doctor can see every update in real time. This allows doctors to hold patients accountable and provides professionals and
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