The Institute of Medicine advises adults to get 4.7 grams of potassium per day. This mineral, which promotes optimal muscle and nerve function and helps to keep your blood pressure at a safe level, is abundant in many fruits and vegetables. The Institute of Medicine has not established an upper limit intake level for potassium, so it is difficult to determine how much is too much. Though overdoses through food are rare, taking in too much potassium can be detrimental to your health.
1. High-Potassium Foods
To get 4.7 grams of potassium, you would have to eat 11 bananas, six medium baked potatoes or 11.5 cups of pomegranate seeds. A medium banana has 422 milligrams of potassium, while a baked potato provides 751 milligrams and a 1/2-cup serving of pomegranate arils has 205 milligrams. You're unlikely to eat this volume of food, but be careful with dried fruit, as its mineral content becomes concentrated. A cup of banana chips, for example, has 1.5 grams of potassium. Read labels to make sure you don't get too much of this mineral.
Your kidneys can only process a certain amount of potassium each day. If you take in more than they can handle, your body stores excess potassium in your blood. A high accumulation of potassium in your blood, hyperkalemia, is a dangerous condition that can, in severe cases, become fatal. Although most people won't develop hyperkalemia after eating high-potassium foods, those on ACE inhibitors or some types of antibiotics may be at an increased risk, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.
3. Muscular Problems
If you take in too much potassium, you may experience gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, upset stomach or nausea. Because these are common ailments, doctors often fail to diagnose mild cases of hyperkalemia. However, a severe case can cause neurological problems, muscle weakness or even temporary paralysis, according to researchers who published a study in "American Journal of Medicine" in 2010.
4. Heart Problems
Eating too much potassium could lead to serious heart problems, according to authors of a study published in "International Journal of Cardiology" in 2010. Excessive potassium in your blood can cause palpitations, irregular or slow heart beats, also known as cardiac arrhythmia. Severe cardiac arrhythmia can lead to a heart attack, so if you develop any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. Your doctor can diagnose cardiac arrhythmia by using an electrocardiogram, or EKG test.
- Linus Pauling Institute: Potassium
- International Journal of Cardiology: Mild Hyperkalemia and Outcomes in Chronic Heart Failure: A Propensity Matched Study
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes -- Electrolytes and Water
- American Journal of Medicine: Acute Paralysis in a Uremic Patient
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Potassium
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Bananas, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Potatoes, Baked
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Pomegranates, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Bananas, Dehydrated
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images