Where does potassium come from?
Potassium is a mineral that is found in a wide variety of plants, meats and drinks.
Potassium is also an ingredient used in some salt substitutes that people take to replace salt in their diet. If you have kidney disease or take some medications, your potassium levels may be too high, so it is important to talk to your doctor before you take a salt substitute.
How much potassium do I need?
The amount of potassium you need depends on your age, stage of life and whether you have any medical conditions.
Having too little or too much potassium in the body can affect your health. This rarely happens due to people’s diets. Sometimes people have too little potassium because they have a condition that causes them to lose potassium from their body, such as bowel disease or because they are taking diuretics (fluid tablets).
Some people have too much potassium because they take too many potassium supplements or have a condition or take medications that increases the amount of potassium in their body. People with chronic kidney conditions, those taking some blood pressure medications and elderly people may need to limit their potassium intake. If you’re not sure, talk to your doctor about a blood test to measure your potassium levels.
What are the best sources of potassium?
Most people get enough potassium from what they eat. There is plenty of potassium in:
- dried apricots, dates and dried figs
- tree fruits, such as avocados, apples, oranges and bananas
- leafy greens, such as spinach, kale and silverbeet
- vine fruits, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant and pumpkin
- root vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes
- beans and peas
- milk, yoghurt
- meat and chicken
- fish (halibut, tuna, cod, snapper)
Should I take a potassium supplement?
People who take certain types of diuretic may not get enough potassium from their diet. If you take diuretics, discuss with your doctor whether you need your potassium levels checked.
Having too much potassium in the body can be dangerous, so you should only take a potassium supplement under medical supervision.
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Last reviewed: April 2021