Are you potassium deficient? Are we all?

Reason for the post: Massive, life-altering change, almost immediately. Data indicates it may be happening to many people, esp athletes. Now holding solid after 4 - 6 mo trial. Want to share.

[K = Potassium, Na = Sodium.]

WARNING & EDIT ADDED DEC 14 '23: Talk to your doc before taking any significant amount of K. Since posting, it has come to my attention there is a real risk here of a catastrophic medical event.

Because K & Na are involved in tons of transmembrane processes in the body, including core brain & heart function. They have antagonistic effects in the body; they need to be in correct qtys, both in absolute value and in relation to each other. So if you increase one, you must increase the other. Getting this right is further complicated by the fact that as you sweat, you lose a lot more Na than K. So you need to increase your Na a lot, and your K a lot also, but not as much. Clear as mud. This is helped by the fact your body is excellent at eliminating excess K & Na in your urine, but super high levels will stress your kidneys, and long term, can cause permanent damage. I have adjusted my original strategy outlined below by having my blood K & Na checked every 6 mo, and talking in detail w my doc about my workout levels and K & Na intake.

Background: Competitive swimmer young, and then runner early teens to early twenties. Doing 10K 3-5 x / week from 18 – 26 yo. Salt is bad for your health, K is just in your diet, no need to augment.

Approx 22 yrs old having digestive trouble. Fast style. 10 s countdown, in public. Multiple intolerable public events. Go to Doc. Diagnosed w “Irritable Bowel Syndrome”. Friend of mine had same diagnosis. Slow style. 4 days, no action. “IBS” is just a term they use when they don’t know what’s up.

WHAT is up? Docs can’t do anything past this. “IBS”. Suffer for 18 ish years, playing terrible game of diet changes, elimination diets, etc. Nothing works.

Approx 18 years, “normal” happens less than once a month. 99% of the time, washroom time is definitely very off, NOT OK. About 60 – 80% of days, washroom happens 3 – 8 x / day, and NOT nicely.

Approx 20 yrs old, “Restless Leg Syndrome”. Twitchy legs at night, can’t sleep. Leg cramps during the day. Continues for 20 years. Docs: “Nothing we can do.”

TrainerRoad Nov 2022. Started reading about Na loss, learned quickly K also lost. Much less than Na, but in large amounts, esp vs. non-active people. Body has ability to regulate K, if no sweating. In sweating, it looses that ability, and will lose K no matter what. But you DO lose a basal rate to urine. There IS a daily required value.

So, first I Jacked Na consumption through the roof. Salt on everything. Trying for 5 – 10g / day. Minor changes, but not much. Pretty much the same.

EDITED: ORIGINAL: Started taking K 800 mg / day total, 400mg w lunch and dinner. NEW EDIT: @Pbase pointed out: 800 mg Potassium Gluconate [my mistake, not citrate], not 800 mg K. Looks like it is approx 16.7% K by wgt = 134 mg K.

It took approx. 3 days. Gone . Washroom 0 – 3 x / day, extremely well. Whenever I want, zero countdowns. Can wait for a few hrs, if needed, for the first time in my life. Zero leg cramps. And sleeping better. [?] Holding steady for 4 – 6 months now. I have a new life.

Govt of Canada says 3.4 GRAMS per day:

USA says 4.7 GRAMS: Potassium - Health Professional Fact Sheet.

[Here’s another tag from Harvard, pegging it at 2300 – 3400, depending on age and sex. Not accounting for loss due to heavy sweat. Potassium | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health ]

Let’s take an average of 4 g:

Context, high K rated foods per day, to reach this target:

Bananas: 358 mg K / 100g. Avg Banana wgt = 118 g = Approx 11 bananas.

Raisins: 749 mg K / 100g. = 530 g = 1.1 lbs of raisins

Potatoes: 535 mg K / 100g. = Six and a half potatoes.

We don’t need to go on. For fun, to cut these in thirds, you’d need 3.6 bananas, 0.4 lbs of raisins and 2.1 potatoes in one day to meet this. Other foods are way lower in K.

This is for an average individual; one not losing additional K through sweat.

Although you def don’t want to be onboarding 5 – 10 x your daily requirements for K, as this will overload your kidneys, you will expel additional K through urine. My current understanding is it’s a “You can have too little, but within reason, you can’t have too much.” situation.

At 800 mg / day, with an ideal DV of somewhere between 3400 – 4000, I’m def not on the “too much” line.

And my life is night and day different. I can go into public without fear. No leg cramps. Sleep like the dead. Completely subjectively, I also felt like my energy was always low, especially on the bike. I have been killing it since this change, and feeling great in recovery.

3 – 4 mo after starting, and originally was taking 1000 mg 2 x / day, had blood test, K values exactly where they should be. NOT over.

So… are / were we all just K deficient?

Only 2 possibilities: 1 – We’re all K deficient. 2 – Can & USA govt values are WAY off; you don’t need anywhere near 3.4 – 4 g / day. And I magically got better, by some star alignment thing, while simultaneously adjusting my daily K values, and changing nothing else.

Bottom line / point of post: Taking 800 – 2000 mg K Citrate per day [on top of tons of Na, already in the mix] changed my life. It sounds like I might not be alone, and that there’s a minimal / zero risk level to trialing it.


Just an observation from a frequent abbreviation user, it’s often good to establish the abbreviations in use before locking into them in a lengthy post like this (not to mention defaulting to it in the title).

Per the context, I take K = Potassium and Na = Sodium, but would be good to make that clear for more casual readers (if that is even part of the target audience and apparent PSA = Public Service Announcement). And since this seems Nutrition based, I placed it in that category for better sorting.


Thank you, I was reading this thinking what in the world are we talking about.

Interesting observation!

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I had a decent guess, confirmed when I got further into the OP, but it’s not ideal to leave open assumptions like that vs making direct connections at the outset.

Now that I have narrowed in as to what wer are discussing, the biggest question I have is what are you eating/taking to get close to 2000mg of Potassium Citrate a day?

That is so much, I assume you are taking some type of supplement?

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That’s less than five bananas, looks like the fruititarians were right all along!


I finally re-read it and I failed math for the day and comprehension, im still stuck in the metric unit thread.

I did a quick scan and though for some reason you needed to eat (11) bananas, (1lb) of raisins and (6) potatoes a day… re-reading seeing its actually


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Vitamin K for the win!

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Yes. Potassium Citrate supplement.

@Chris1982 You jump back and forth a bit between potassium and potassium citrate. For clarity, are you taking 800mg potassium or 800mg potassium citrate?


The initial qtys listed are if you only ate that one food source, to point out how silly it is.

Eg. 11 bananas.

But nobody will eat 11 bananas.

So taking these 3 food sources, and cutting them in thirds, you get “3.6 bananas, 0.4 lbs of raisins and 2.1 potatoes in one day” , to give you the needed 4 g daily value.

Interesting point. You’re right. I thought the value on the front of the bottle was functional / available K, but it seems to be the actual total mg of Potassium Gluconate [my mistake, not citrate].

Looks like it is approx 16.7% K by wgt = 195 mg total = 32.6 mg K.

Thanks for the heads up, I really appreciate it.

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Making lunch and the bananas we have here are ~200g with skin on. I’m going to rough estimate 50g skin, so ~525mg per banana.

~80mg Vit K from a multivitamin

~300mg from a cup of granola that has raisins
~450mg for the cup of 2% milk on my granola

~1050mg from my two pre-ride bananas

~480mg from two Clif bars during the ride

That’s almost 2.5g potassium (Vit K :joy:) from just those 5 sources.

Vitamin K != Potassium!

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That’s what I’m talking about! Drugs are drugs :rofl:

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Potatoes are one of my staples in addition to rice because of their potassium. I cook them once a week in the Instant Pot to retain all the potassium and then I add a little butter before mashing. Gold potatoes mashed taste pretty good to me without extras.

If you boil them and throw out the water, you’ll lose a lot of the potassium.

You can also just sprinkle Nu Salt on food. It’s a potassium salt replacement.

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Another 100mg from the half&half milk in my coffee!

And another 300mg from the rice medley on my lunch salad.

Closing in on 3g per day without trying too hard.

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This doesnt seem like a ton.

An avocado, 2 cups of spinach, and an acorn squash gets you there.

That’s fully awesome, dude. Right on.

My diet doesn’t look anything remotely like that. I’m not smashing 2 bananas before and 2 cliff bars during.

But also 99% sure I’m not doing anything like the KMs you’re doing, so makes sense. But I still sweat a ton, and even before sweat, am nowhere near my daily required values, so despite not needing the extra cals, I def need to keep the K up.

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I’m averaging about 7-8 hours a week for 2023.

I like to say “fuel yourself like a race car” :+1:

Another 400mg from the cup of tomatoes on my lunch salad. Getting close to 3.5g without dinner and other stuff. Take away the two bananas and Clif bars and thats still 2g potassium per day.

Also saw this:

“How much potassium should you get? Taylor says the recommended target is 2,600 milligrams per day for women and 3,400 milligrams per day for men. Fun fact: Older guidelines recommended 4,700 milligrams per day, but the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine updated the number in 2019. So it’s now even easier to get your daily dose of potassium.”

Source: 10 Foods That Are High in Potassium – Cleveland Clinic

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