Potassium Deficiency

As of last week, my 2 year old nephew has been suffering from pain in his legs late at night. He’ll wake up crying and point at his legs to let us know that he’s hurting. His parents and I thought it may be either growing pains or from him being very active during the day. It could also be that he’s been lacking vitamins in the potassium department. He hasn’t been enthusiastic about eating banana lately. While I was massaging his legs, I decided to google all information available. The thought of it possibly being a Charley horse also crossed my mind. I too have suffered from it in the past, and as recent as 2 weeks ago. Charley horses are a muscle spasm. Muscle spasms can occur in any muscles, but this particular one often happens in the leg. It happens without your control usually at night, and does not relax. Spasms occur when you’re dehydrated while exercising or low on minerals such as potassium or calcium. 

Many of us know that you can get potassium from eating bananas. The recommended daily amount of potassium for adults over the age of 19 and pregnant women should be 4,700mg. Nursing mothers need more, so the recommended daily intake is 5,100mg. Infants and children up to the of age 13 require 400mg – 3,800mg, depending on age and weight. Surprisingly, it isn’t banana that is the richest in potassium.

Here’s a list of 10 potassium rich vegetables or fruits.

1. Banana

The ever so wonderful banana contains 594mg of potassium. Have banana in your cereal or oatmeal. 

2. Potatoes

A baked potato has 1,081mg! That’s amazing.. If you eat one baked potato and a banana, you’re one third way into your recommended daily intake of potassium. Try baking sweet potatoes as well. 

3. Raisins

Raisins tops the list in terms of mg. Having a cup of raisins contains 1,089mg. Raisins can be enjoyed as a snack or in baked goods. If you’re not into raisins, there are plenty of other alternatives. 

4. Lima Beans

A cup of lima beans contains 955mg. Lima beans are great in salads or soups. 

5. Tomato

Tomato sauce contains 909mg in a cup. Use tomato sauce on spaghetti or in soups.

6. Winter Squash

Try winter squashes like kabocha or butternut squash. A cup of a winter squash contains 896mg of potassium. Try baked butternut squash or butternut squash soup. Kabocha is great when baked or in soups. The natural sweetness will ooze out when you bake these beautiful squashes. 

7. Prunes

When you think of prune juice, do you cringe? Prune juice is known to help with the digestive system, which is why many elderly adults incorporate it into their diet. Aside from helping relieve constipation, it’s also high in potassium. A cup of prune juice has 707mg, while eating a cup of dried prunes has 828mg. 

8. Spinach

A cup of cooked spinach contains 839mg. Try cooked spinach in soups or as a stir fry. 

9. Dried Apricots

Can’t get over those dried prunes? How about dried apricots instead? 5 dried apricot pieces contains 407mg. Try making your own potassium filled trail mix. Incorporate these potassium packed dried fruits: dried apricots, dried dates, dried figs, and dried raisins. Add some nuts and take along your potassium packed snack to work or on a hike. 

10. Orange Juice

A cup of orange juice contains 496mg while eating an orange has 237mg. You’ll also get vitamin A, C, folate and a good source of dietary fiber. 

We’re going to now try to incorporate some of these into my nephew’s diet, hoping it may relieve him from the pain he suffers at night. If you have small children who have leg cramps or pain, I also recommend buying eucalyptus oil and rubbing it onto their legs. I have not tested the American version of eucalyptus oil, so I do not know if it’s the same as the Vietnamese one. Eucalyptus oil is safe to use on children over the age of 2, and is not hot. It may initially smell “hot”, but it’s not hot at all. I also use the eucalyptus oil in the warm mist humidifier when my nephew is sick. If you’re living in California, you can buy Vietnamese eucalyptus oil (Khyunh Diep) at many Asian herbal medicinal shops. I’ve found 2 sites that sell them online if you’re looking to buy it.



For adults, I also recommend using eucalyptus oil for any muscle spasms or sores as well. Some adults can handle the heat from the Eagle Brand Medicated Oil for relief from pain. So if you’re looking for something for muscle relief, try using that. Be warned though that the heat is like no other. It warms very quickly on your body, and cools once its done its job. There’s also the Tiger balm version. Salon pas works great for muscle relief and doesn’t leave the residue smell on your hands like the Tiger balm or Eagle Oil. You will however smell exactly like the Salon pas when you use it.  If you’re thinking of trying Eagle oil or Tiger balm, I caution you to only use a thin layer.


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