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Potassium Rich Foods: Health Benefits and Deficiency Symptoms

Updated on April 7, 2015
Potassium is necessary for cardiovascular health, supports muscular and digestive systems.
Potassium is necessary for cardiovascular health, supports muscular and digestive systems. | Source

Benefits of Potassium

Potassium is used by the body for overall cell function in our tissues and organs. Potassium is especially vital in supporting a healthy cardiovascular system. Potassium also affects the function of the muscular and skeletal systems. A diet rich in potassium is known to benefit a variety of patients. Especially those suffering from cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, insomnia and gout. For example, tart cherry juice is rich in potassium and is commonly consumed to reduce the symptoms of insomnia, gout, joint pain and muscle fatigue.

  • Potassium from food sources has been shown to reduce high blood pressure in both systolic and diastolic readings. The foods that show the most effective results are also high in magnesium, nitrates and calcium.
  • Potassium is also beneficial in reducing the risk of stroke.

Avocados are are great source of potassium.
Avocados are are great source of potassium.
Experts suggest consuming potassium rich foods instead of taking potassium supplements. Bananas are known as a rich source of potassium.
Experts suggest consuming potassium rich foods instead of taking potassium supplements. Bananas are known as a rich source of potassium.

What is Potassium?

Potassium is a mineral commonly found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Potassium is necessary for cardiovascular health, supports muscular and digestive systems. Potassium plays an important role in cell, tissue and organ function in the body. Aside from being a mineral, potassium is also an electrolyte.


  • Hyperkalemia: too much potassium is present in the blood.
  • Hypokalemia: too little potassium in the blood.

Hyperkalemia: too much potassium in the blood

Too much potassium is usually caused by the kidney's inability to remove excessive potassium as well as possible supplement abuse. Those diagnosed with diabetes need to maintain awareness of their respective diet and kidney function.

Addison's Disease: is a disorder affecting the production of hormones in the adrenal gland. The disorder causes the adrenal gland to produce too little cortisol or aldosterol. Addison's Disease is also known as, adrenal insufficiency or hypocortisolism. In acute adrenal failure a common symptom is high potassium (hyperkalemia).

Potassium Deficiency

Potassium loss is usually caused by the following conditions: Excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, malnutrition and issues such as Crohn's Disease may cause potassium deficiency. Diuretics and certain diuretic based hypertension medications can also trigger potassium deficiency. Age also plays a role in the body's use of potassium; our kidneys become less effective with age. The kidneys normally remove excess potassium from the body. They also send potassium into the bloodstream. It is important to note that potassium supplements in the aging may cause health issues due to the challenges faced by aging kidneys.

Potassium Deficiency Symptoms

Symptoms of Hypokalemia (low potassium): It is important to note, most cases of hypokalemia are blamed on the loss of potassium through the urine and intestines, as opposed to a diet lacking in potassium.

Symptoms include:

  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • muscle cramps
  • irregular heartbeat

Low potassium symptoms are commonly related to secondary health issues. The following populations should remain vigilant of their symptoms and potassium intake in their diets.

  • Hypertension / High Blood Pressure Patients: A variety of studies have found a diet rich in potassium can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease related death.
  • At risk Stroke Patients: Patients who improve their potassium intake through their diets significantly reduce their risk of stroke. Interestingly, the risk of stroke is not reduced with potassium supplements.
  • Crohn's Disease and Irritable Bowel Disease Patients: This population has difficulty with absorption in the intestine. This effect may hinder their levels of potassium and put them at risk for potassium deficiency.
  • Bone Health in Postmenopausal women: A diet rich in potassium may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

We all need potassium but some of us need it more than others.
We all need potassium but some of us need it more than others. | Source

Who needs more potassium?

Increased potassium supplementation is sometimes used to treat the following conditions: (please check with your physician before taking up a potassium supplement regimen)

  • Alcoholism

  • Alzheimer's disease

  • Arthritis

  • Cancer

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • Colitis

  • Gout

  • Headaches

  • High calcium levels

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

  • Insomnia

  • Insulin resistance

  • Menière's disease

  • Menopause

  • Muscular dystrophy

  • Stress

Foods Rich in Potassium

  • avocados
  • bananas
  • black beans
  • buckwheat flour
  • cantaloupe
  • carrots and carrot juice
  • chicken
  • citrus
  • cod
  • garbanzo beans
  • dates
  • flounder
  • halibut
  • kidney beans
  • lima beans
  • navy beans
  • potato (with skin)
  • prune juice
  • raisins
  • salmon
  • soybeans
  • sweet potato
  • tart cherry juice
  • tomatoes
  • white beans



University of Maryland Medical Center

National Institutes of Health

Dickinson HO, Nicolson DJ, Campbell F, Beyer FR, Mason J. Potassium supplementation for the management of primary hypertension in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006

Matsui H, Shimosawa T, Uetake Y, Wang H, Ogura S, Kaneko T, et al. Protective effect of potassium against the hypertensive cardiac dysfunction: association with reactive oxygen species reduction. Hypertension. 2006

Disclaimer: The information provided in this hub should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. Please consult a physician for medical and dietary advice and treatment. Potassium Deficiency should not be assumed or treated without the supervision of a medical professional.

© 2012 Marisa Hammond Olivares


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    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      4 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Here. I am again. I love this hub so much. Thanks for listing potassium. Such a big help. Sharing.

    • profile image

      Alma from usa 

      4 years ago

      I' m a Nurse student and I found very educational article. I hope person's enjoyed this education for our health. Thank you

    • lyns profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      It's really funny I was eating a banana, just yesterday and I said to myself I know this fruit is good for me but good for what, wow thanks I logged on to hub pages and here's this outstanding article on bananas and what it's good for

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      5 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I've learned so much from your hub missolive. I have osteoporosis and was not told about getting enough potassium in my diet. I'm bookmarking this for reference. So well-done. Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting and sharing. Thank you~Audrey

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      Very helpful hub on potassium. The information you have offered is well researched, and it's presented in an easy-to-understand manner.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      Great subject and advice. I have had several elderly family members suffer from low potassium. You have provided me with a more comprehensive list of foods rich in potassium than I was aware of. I knew about bananas and tart cherries but that was it.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • kabubi Herman profile image

      Slim Emcee (UG) the poet 

      6 years ago from Kampala, Uganda

      @ iguidenetwork, tell him to eat lots of bogoyas and apple bananas which we call amenvu in our local language

    • iguidenetwork profile image


      6 years ago from Austin, TX

      One of my friends suffered hypokalemia, which his wife feared it was a stroke. It could be inherited because his mother has suffered the same. And you know what the doctor (who injected potassium shots to my friend) told him? Simply eat lots of bananas. It was found that he doesn't eat too much bananas.

      Great hub, very informative. Up and useful.

    • kabubi Herman profile image

      Slim Emcee (UG) the poet 

      6 years ago from Kampala, Uganda

      i had four of those today in the morning

      We call them BOGOYA down here in Uganda

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice and informative article...

    • adity5 profile image


      6 years ago

      very interesting information :)...thanks for sharing !!

    • Sana Ratio profile image

      Sana R 

      6 years ago from Reading, England

      Thanks for a complete guide about Potassium. the image is banana is also interesting one.

    • Ruchira profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      Bananas are always bought in abundance in my household cause of folks running in my house...very informative hub, miss olive

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I know if I don't eat my banana a day I suffer with foot cramps at night. Excellent hub!

    • missolive profile imageAUTHOR

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 

      6 years ago from Texas

      tebo, thank you. Glad to hear you are keeping up with your potassium, sounds like you are right on track.

      CZCZCZ, wow, thanks! I'm glad you liked the hub. It is nice to have a variety of foods to choose from. Thank you for reading.

      collegedad, nothing like a bad leg cramp, ouch. I'm happy to have offered a list of alternatives for you. I hope those leg cramps stay away.

      dilipchandra12, thank you for your lovely support. Glad to share my findings with you and I appreciate you stopping by.

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 

      6 years ago from India

      The hub is simply amazing. Very well written and arranged. I like it, it has very good information, thank you for sharing the above useful read.

    • collegedad profile image


      6 years ago from The Upper Peninsula

      I eat a lot of bananas to combat severe leg cramps. I'm not much of a banana fan so I am eager to try some of the alternatives you've listed. Thanks for the great hub!

    • CZCZCZ profile image


      6 years ago from Oregon

      What a great hub! This was just jam packed with information and I really liked the list of all the other foods that are high in potassium. Of course everyone thinks of the bananas but it was interesting to look at the other types of food that also are a great source of this body essential.

    • tebo profile image


      6 years ago from New Zealand

      A very well written hub with lots of helpful information. I do eat lots of bananas and beans of various sorts so hopefully I am not deficient. Great read, thanks.

    • missolive profile imageAUTHOR

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 

      7 years ago from Texas

      grandmapearl, leg cramps could also be a sign of magnesium deficiency. Both potassium and magnesium tend to be found in many of the same foods though. I do hope you find the relief you need. I tend to experience cramps in my fingers and toes...not fun. In fact, I enjoyed a banana and some milk this past evening due to hand cramps a couple of days ago...they've since subsided. Take care of yourself and thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the votes and support.

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 

      7 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Thank you for all the great information in this article. I have had an issue with leg cramps lately, and wondered if my potassium intake, or lack thereof, was the cause. Thank you also for the extensive list of potassium-rich foods. Voted Up and Everything, pinned and shared. Good job!

    • missolive profile imageAUTHOR

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 

      7 years ago from Texas

      carol7777, thank you so much - I appreciate it.

      Victoria Lynn, thanks. I need to buy more bananas today. :)

      Deborah Brooks, thank you so much for the group add. Glad you enjoyed the hub. (and big thanks Sharon for sharing)

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      7 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      You are already a member.. Ms Olive..



    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      7 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      awesome Hub. Sharon posted this in TOPS TAKE OFF POUNDS SENSIBLY.. on facebook.. this is great. I will add you


    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Nice job! really well researched! It reminds me that I need to eat more bananas. Great hub.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Being a student of healthy ways to live. I didn't realize how many foods ontained potassium. I guess it would be hard to OD on potassium from food eating a reasonable diet. This is very interesting and you did a great job and explaining and listing. Thanks for sharing. Voted UP.

    • missolive profile imageAUTHOR

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 

      7 years ago from Texas

      cclitgirl, thank you so much for sharing with us. Glad to know you get plenty of potassium in your diet. Take care of your hubby and yourself too! Always glad to see you.

      CriticalMessage, I love that....reduce hypertension and increase the happiness of your tongue. Yes, I am one that also needs diuretics for keeping my hypertension controlled. Seizures sound like a scary symptome. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Take care.

    • CriticalMessage profile image


      7 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      As one who has fallen victim to the frustrations of managing 'hypertension' ?.. I have found potassium knowledge and management to be extremely beneficial in reducing blood pressure levels and increasing the happiness of my tongue.

      It is also necessary to increase potassium when prescribed to take any diuretics needed to regulate water retention. Diuretics often deplete potassium levels do a point of experiencing frightening seizure like effects. Unfortunately I know this 1st hand.

      Some really good information presented in an very efficient manner here in which I truly do appreciate Marisa.. Thank You! *smiles*

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

      Very interesting! I shared this with my hubby b/c he often gets muscle cramps, especially at night. He takes potassium supplements sometimes, but I'm glad to see that our diet has LOTS of potassium. :) This is good information to know! Thanks for sharing this.

    • missolive profile imageAUTHOR

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 

      7 years ago from Texas

      vocalcoach, I really think you are going to absolutely love what tart cherry juice does for you. I feel so much better when I drink it. Potassium is such an important part of our diet. I do hope you find the relief you need and deserve. Always glad to see you.

      Mommiegee, thank you so much! I appreciate that.

      Dexter Yarbrough, Dex! So nice to see you! Thank you for reading and commenting.

      jainismus, very glad to share this information with you. Glad you stopped by.

      TToombs, I am so glad to hear that. Health depends greatly on our diet and it was a series I had been wanting to put together for quite some time. Cheers! To your health.

      LadyLyell, Thank you! Happy to share my research.

      BlissfulWriter, coconut water sounds so refreshing. I've started to see it more and more at my health foods store. Thanks for the tip.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image


      7 years ago

      Coconut water is a great source of potassium too.

    • LadyLyell profile image


      7 years ago from George, South Africa

      Excellent information, thanks!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      7 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      MO, I am really enjoying this series with all the helpful information on how to maintain a healthy balance with the essential minerals the body needs. VUMS!

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      7 years ago from Pune, India

      Great information, thank you for sharing.

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 

      7 years ago from United States

      Great information. Thank you so much!

    • Mommiegee profile image


      7 years ago from Alabama

      This is an awesome hub! And thank you for naming foods rich in potassium. Definitely a thumbs up!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Another fantastic and very helpful hub on Potassium. I'm going to make sure I have enough in my diet as I've been going through a chronic fatigue problem for the last 2 yrs. Can't wait to begin the cherry juice regime that I read on your other super hub. Thanks and voted up, useful, awesom and sharing!


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