What Is Potassium?
Potassium is a mineral that your body needs to work properly. It is a type of electrolyte. Electrolytes like potassium help keep your heartbeat regular and your muscles contracting. They help bring nutrients into your cells. They also help move waste out of your cells.
Potassium and the Kidneys
Healthy kidneys keep the right amount of potassium in your body. When kidneys are not healthy, they can’t use potassium properly. This can cause a dangerous buildup of potassium in the blood called hyperkalemia. High potassium can cause weakness, numbness, tingling, irregular heartbeat, or a heart attack.
Your doctor may ask you to cut back on the potassium in your diet if your kidneys are not working as they should. Talk to your doctor about your potassium needs. This may mean avoiding high-potassium foods. There are plenty of low-potassium foods you can choose instead. A low-potassium diet may be around 2,000-3,000 milligrams (mg) per day, but your doctor may recommend a specific amount for you.
Sources of Potassium
Food companies make many processed foods with added potassium. It is a good idea to avoid added potassium as much as possible. Added potassium foods can provide a lot of potassium per serving. Check the ingredients section of the food label for added potassium. Avoid foods that have these added potassium ingredients in them:
- Potassium sorbate
- Potassium chloride
- Potassium lactate
Potassium is also found naturally in foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and dairy. But you don’t need to be afraid of these nutritious foods! Moderate servings of other fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and dairy are a valuable addition to your meals and snacks. Some choices are higher in potassium than others. If your doctor tells you to eat less potassium, you’ll want to avoid these especially high-potassium foods:
- Tomato sauce and other tomato products
- Orange juice
Potassium and Nutrition Labels
Food labels now include how much potassium is in a food per serving. This can be a useful tool for limiting potassium. Look at the Nutrition Facts panel when choosing foods. Don’t forget to check the serving size, too. Serving size is at the top of the Nutrition Facts panel. If you eat more than one serving, keep in mind you have eaten more potassium than what is listed. Generally, a lower-potassium food has approximately 250 milligrams per serving, or is 5% or less of the Percent Daily Value.
Schedule a session with a Livongo coach for help creating a well-balanced and varied plan that is right for your individual needs.