How Much Potassium Do You Need Per Day

Batul Nafisa Baxamusa Mar 27, 2019
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You must be aware that potassium is an electrolyte that carries electrical charge when dissolved in water. It has the same action in the body and helps maintain electrolyte balance within the body. Let us find out how much potassium our body requires on a daily basis.
The macronutrient potassium is very important for the various cellular functions within the body. There are many foods that contain potassium and one can get the recommended daily allowance of potassium from their diet.
But, how much potassium do you need per day? Once you know the answer, it will be easier for you to measure your recommended potassium intake. Let us go into the details of daily potassium requirements in the information given ahead.

Recommended Daily Allowance of Potassium

There are many people who are diet conscious or are suffering from the consequences of low potassium diet. Studies have found that people in the Western world often suffer from low potassium levels as they don't eat healthy. They don't eat meals that help suffice their daily potassium requirements.
The recommended potassium requirements for children are as follows:
  • Newborn baby to 6 months of age: 500 mg (13 mEq)
  • 7 to 12 months of age: 700 mg (18 mEq)
  • 1 to 2 years of age: 1,000 mg (26 mEq)
  • 2 to 5 years of age: 1,400 mg (mEq)
  • 6 to 9 years of age: 1,600 mg (41 mEq)
  • Children over 10 years of age: 2,000 mg (51 mEq)
When it comes to potassium requirements for women, it is about 2,300 to 4,700 mg/day. Pregnant women need up to 4,700 to 5,100 mg/day, as they tend to pass on the potassium to their babies in womb and while breast-feeding. When it comes to recommended daily allowance of potassium for men, they need about 3,300 to 4,700 mg/day.
The recommended potassium requirement for athletes is more as they exercise harder. The loss of potassium from the body is greater due to excessive sweating after a hard workout. Hence, they need more than 4,000 mg/day in their daily diet. So, the verdict is, an adolescent as well as an adult requires at least 4,700 mg of potassium in their daily diet.

Why do We Need Potassium in Our Daily Diet?

You must be wondering, why do we need at least 4,700 mg of potassium per day in our diet. This is because potassium is a macronutrient just like calcium, sodium, magnesium, chloride, sulfur and phosphorous. Potassium breaks down into ions when dissolved in water and helps conduct electrical impulses within the body.
These potassium ions are present within a cell and outside the cell walls. Sodium too, is present within and outside the cell wall. The only difference is that there is more of potassium within the cell wall and more of sodium ions outside the cell wall. This causes an electrochemical gradient called the membrane potential.
This difference helps in transmission of sodium ions into the cell wall and potassium ions outside the cell wall. This allows nerve impulse transmission that helps in skeletal and smooth muscle contraction, heart function, digestive function and other muscular functions. Thus, potassium deficiency will lead to many nerve impulse and neurological problems.
Low potassium in diet leads to hypokalemia that results in weakness, lack of energy, muscle cramps, irregular heartbeat, abnormal heart function and other life-threatening conditions. This deficiency occurs after eating a high salt diet.
High sodium levels in the body increases the need for more potassium to maintain the electrolyte balance. Thus, the body's requirement of potassium increases, leading to a deficiency of this macronutrient.

Is there a Need for a Low Potassium Diet?

Just as one can suffer from hypokalemia, one can also develop hyperkalemia (too much potassium in body). Kidneys tend to regulate the potassium in the body and get rid of the excess by flushing it out in the urine.
However, in case of hyperkalemia, too much potassium is present in the body. This is not a good sign as it can lead to many dangerous heart ailments that can be life-threatening. Potassium toxicity is a risky condition and thus calls for a low potassium diet.
One needs to maintain a balance of potassium levels in their body, else it could lead to health complications. People tend to get just about 2,600 mg of potassium through their daily diet. This is obviously not enough and one needs to include more potassium rich foods in their diet.
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