Potassium needs – this is how to help your client

Potassium needs – almost no adults actually meet them daily. That means about 98% of adult bodies are not efficiently bringing water (and essential water-soluble nutrients) into their cells, supporting their better blood pressure, nor nerve and muscles functions. All because they do not get in enough of this essential nutrient.

concerned face
Your body trying to figure out how to get it all done without enough potassium

Recently, the government adjusted the adequate intake down to be closer to 3000mg for most adults (range 2300-3400mg), and increasing with life stages like breastfeeding.

And the solution isn’t a banana.

They would need 10 bananas a day to reach the new adequate intake.

bananas for potassium needs
It is NOT easy to get in enough potassium daily. 
But it can be deliciously easy with this Potassium Menu!

How do you know if their current nutrition provides enough?

Labs won’t tell you neither will genetic tests or BMI. The only way to know if a person’s total nutrition intake is better for their body is to assess total potassium intake (from foods, drinks, supplements). Other factors to assess include sodium intake, current health and lifestyle factors.

Their better health depends on enough potassium and not too much sodium!

Potassium works opposite sodium to bring water, water-soluble vitamins (Bs, C), and antioxidants into your cells. Healthy adults need about 3000mg daily, and a banana only has about 400mg. So eating one banana isn’t the advice they need to reach their goal. And 9 bananas isn’t better, right?

What foods are high in potassium?

It’s deliciously easy to get enough with fruits and vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, beans, bananas, coconut and watermelon water too. Check out the Better Potassium Menu for 7 days and lots of delicious ways to get in enough potassium.

get potassium socca avocado toast
You can get about 500mg per serving of this Socca Avocado Toast 

Does eating less salt lower blood pressure?

It might. But it might not. A persona’s sodium intake could be fine (check right now and see with the sodium evaluation) but they could need more potassium for better blood pressure. For healthy blood pressure, the body needs better electrolyte balance. Individuals have different responses to salt – it’s called “salt sensitivity” – but every human body requires potassium to bring water and nutrients into your cells.

Are you explaining that sodium intake affects their potassium needs?

These two minerals go hand-in-hand, so it’s important to find out how their sodium intake impacts their potassium. Surprisingly, the majority of the sodium a person eats does not come from the salt shaker. Most sodium hides in sneaky sources like processed foods (think snacks, canned soups, frozen foods) and food prepared in restaurants.

Is sea salt a better choice?

While some sea salt may give the body minerals and less sodium, sea salt doesn’t contain much or any potassium. Switching to a quality sea salt (make sure its from clean seas!) can be a delicious choice. But it could hurt iodine intake. Read here to learn more about sea salt and iodine needs.

Should you recommend a potassium supplement?

No. You shouldn’t aim to meet potassium needs with a supplement. As a practitioner, if it’s within your scope and knowledge to prescribe potassium as a supplement or medication, make sure to advise on any side effects or how to adjust food potassium intake. It can be healthy and helpful to get in about 100mg of a good quality source in a multi-mineral or electrolyte support product. But for most, getting in optimal potassium should come from foods and beverages like those shared above and the recipes in our menu.

Do daily activities increase needs?

They sure can, so can health issues. Heavy exercise, lots of sweating, loose stools, alcohol, frequent use of diuretics or laxatives, certain GI disorders and airplane flights may increase your daily or specific day needs. It’s smart to travel with some potassium food sources and or electrolyte powder as well as have some on hand at home.

When should you advise patients to talk to their doctor about potassium needs?

Key symptoms include excessive thirst, headaches, frequent loose stools, abnormal fatigue, muscle weakness, muscle cramping and constipation are all symptoms. BUT they are also symptoms associated with many nutrient and health concerns so don’t guess. Do the potassium evaluation with your client and then share it with their doctor (or have them share it).