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An electrolyte that helps with muscle contraction, potassium is a key mineral for maintaining a healthy balance of fluids inside every cell in our bodies — including muscle cells. It also helps transmit nerve signals, which lead to muscle contractions. In fact, most of your body’s potassium resides in your muscles.

The RDA is 3,400 mg for adult men and 2,600 mg for adult women, though needs increase during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. But most U.S. adults don’t get enough, which concerns public health officials.

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services primarily recommend increasing potassium intake through whole-food sources rather than through supplements, which contain ­paltry amounts of potassium compared with food.

Moreover, it’s nearly impossible for someone with healthy kidney function to ingest too much potassium through its myriad food sources.

Tips to Optimize Your Potassium Intake

  • Many vegetables and fruits are excellent sources of potassium, including bananas, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, acorn squash, and potatoes (white, gold, red, and purple).
  • Meat, poultry, fish, yogurt, milk, and nuts all contain potassium.

(Learn more about potassium at “Why Your Body Needs Potassium and How to Maximize Your Intake.”)

Feed Your Muscles

You need more than just protein to get and stay strong. Discover the essential nutrients that can support your muscles now and for the long haul at “What to Eat for Strong Muscles,” from which this article was excerpted.

Lauren Bedosky

Lauren Bedosky is a Twin Cities–based health-and-fitness writer.

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