Potassium is easily absorbed by a wide variety of food so it is unlikely you would need to take a supplement

No RDA. RNI is 3,500 mg.

Potassium is an essential macro-mineral. Most of it is in the cells of skeletal muscle.

Potassium is not stored in the body, but as much as 90% of the potassium in food is easily absorbed

Where do you get potassium?

You can get if from many fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and meat. The list includes apricots, bananas, melon, citrus fruit, asparagus, potatoes, green beans, cauliflower, red meat, poultry, seafood, lentils and peas.

The amount we get from food varies greatly, with vegetarians getting around 8,000 mg or more a day.


It regulates (along with sodium and chloride) the normal balance of water throughout the body. It helps maintain normal blood pressure, makes your heart and muscles work properly, keeps the intestines moving and works with sodium to transmit nerve impulses.

Too much potassium

The kidneys remove excess potassium but if they are not working properly it can build up, causing muscle weakness, bowel ulceration and heart problems.

Too little potassium

Deficiency is rare, but can happen due to a poor diet, chronic diarrhoea and vomiting, some diuretic drugs, excessive tea, coffee and cola drinking, excessive sweating, major burns or skin damage and some medical conditions such as diabetes, severe heart disease and anorexia.

Symptoms of deficiency include fatigue, muscle weakness, vomiting, no appetite, dry skin, depression, low blood pressure, and drowsiness. Severe depletion results in confusion, high blood sugar, slow heart rate and even death in extreme cases. A balanced diet with potassium-rich foods is the answer to suspected lack of potassium.

Potassium supplements

Supplements can send levels soaring – consult your doctor first.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.