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Do You Get Enough Potassium?

How this mineral keeps your body moving

Veteran at the grocery store selecting fresh broccoli  Getting all the nutrients you need is more than a checklist; it’s how we stay healthy. Many different nutrients make up a healthy diet. Potassium is one nutrient of many that support your body. Most people probably don’t think about potassium, let alone if you’re getting enough, or even too much.

Find out what potassium is, how to get the right amount, and how to include it in your diet.

What is potassium?

Potassium is a nutrient found in many foods. It has a big impact on your body’s functions and reduces the risk of some health problems. Getting enough potassium can:

  • Decrease high blood pressure

  • Reduce the risk of stroke or heart disease

  • Support kidney function

  • Help the nerve system and muscle contraction

  • Getting the right amount

There are risks to getting too much or too little potassium. If you have kidney disease, too much potassium can be harmful. But most people don’t get enough potassium. Not having enough potassium can increase blood pressure and weaken bones. Most importantly, it can have a poor impact on your heart health. You can find your potassium levels with a basic blood test.

Finding potassium in food

Potassium is found in many foods. Meat and fish, such as salmon or cod, are good sources. Fruits and vegetables have significant amounts of potassium as well. Try adding fruits like citrus fruits, bananas, apricots and more vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, and potatoes to your meals. Milk, yogurt, and nuts are also excellent sources.

If your diet is high in sodium, with low potassium intake, you may be at higher risk of high blood pressure. Processed or prepared foods may contain high amounts of sodium. With any part of your diet, remember to be aware of serving sizes and read food labels. If your health care provider recommends changes, use a food journal to keep track of how you feel.

Try recipes from VA's Healthy Teaching Kitchen like this Tropical Smoothie.

What about supplements?

If your potassium levels are low, you may want to think about supplements. Talk to your health care provider before starting any supplements. You can reach out using Secure Messaging or call them.

Viewing tests in My HealtheVet

A potassium blood test measures the amount of potassium in your blood. Your doctor may order a potassium blood test as part of your regular checkup or to monitor existing conditions. The test may also be used to monitor or diagnose conditions such as kidney disease, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Veterans with a Premium account can view their potassium results in their Blue Button report under 'labs and tests.’

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Read More

Potassium (NIH)

Taking Potassium (Veterans Health Library)

Pesto Veggie Wrap Recipe (YouTube)

Broccoli and Cheese Soup Recipe (YouTube)

Updated September 20, 2021