Tuesday, February 7, 2012

You are not getting enough potassium.

I discovered a few weeks ago that apparently I cannot eat whisky and tatties with abandon without it sticking to my posterior. Since then, I've been keeping track of what I eat (and drink) with a fancy iPhone app. Don't worry, it's set to "maintain current weight" rather than lose weight because, well, I still like chocolate and cocktails (and my pants still mostly fit). Truthfully, I've gone well-over my caloric intake every day, but that is mostly because of my newfound obsession to get a completely balanced nutrient intake. You see, the app I'm using tells me how much of my RDA I've gotten for every vitamin and nutrient. This brings me to today's PSA: You are potassium-deficient.

A person of my height and weight should get around 3500mg of Potassium a day, according to various books, websites, and the NHS (I've seen some American sites suggesting lower amounts, such as 2000mg. Even if that's correct, it's still a hard-to-maintain amount.) Now I don't know if you've ever kept track of your potassium intake, but I am betting you don't get near to that.

I've tried concentrating only on high-potassium foods, but it seems impossible to get close to 3500mg a day without doubling my caloric intake or without eating constantly. And don't you crazy meat-proponents start telling me to eat meat, as just about all the highest-potassium foods are fruits, vegetables, legumes, and herbs, all of which I eat daily anyway. (Even fish, which is pretty high in potassium, would require eating six and a half fillets a day to add up to 3500mg.)

Suggestions I've read on how to get lots of potassium:
-Eat 100grams of dried apricots for about %50 of your potassium RDA. Do you know what would happen to me if I ate that many dried apricots? The last time I did that I was in college and had to miss class because I was still on the toilet. I get tons of fiber, but 10 apricots is my limit. And that's only if I'm home alone for a few hours.
-A sweet potato (including the skin) has just about the highest potassium of any food out there, but even one average sweet potato has just 500-600mg. Seven sweet potatoes is what it would take, my friends. Seven!
-Bananas don't have as much potassium as I thought. Wasn't that always the rumor? Have a leg cramp, eat more bananas? If I ate 9 bananas a day, maybe...

I suppose I could give up on all other nutrient goals, and focus entirely on potassium. How about this for a daily menu?
-a sweet potato (600mg)
-one banana (400mg)
-a cup of boiled black beans (600mg)
-a cup of prune juice (700mg)
-10 dried apricots (500ishmg)
(still not there, and just think about the combination of prune juice and apricots)
-a cup of cantaloupe or an avocado (500mg)
-a few dates (300mg)

Well, now that I typed that out, it doesn't seem as hard to get. But it also doesn't seem like a menu I'm likely to eat every day. Maybe that's because I can't get good cantaloupe or avocado in Scotland. Anyway, I suppose if I forgo all whisky and girl scout cookies, I could get enough potassium and stay within my recommended caloric intake. But where's the joy in that?

If I've now got you worried about your own potassium intake, I'm sorry. I don't mean to preach fear. I've been obsessively researching this for weeks now, and there are loads of websites on the subject. Here's one that gives you serving sizes and potassium-rich foods, just in case you become neurotic about your RDA like I have. I actually told my doctor about my potassium concerns last week at my check-up, and she kind of rolled her eyes and told me she's sure I get more potassium than most because of my vegetarian diet and not to worry. But, but, but!!!

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1 comment:

  1. that was really funny, I have the same worries! I am trying to make my potassium, and I am not ever coming close... Even though today I had coconut water, banana, fruit, salad... still not there, and I am a small person, I cannot consume that much food!