A cup of coffee has a special ability to wake you up, boost your energy, productivity, and alertness. But unlike most people know, it’s packed with numerous healthy elements, most of which are essential to your body. It’s for that reason that coffee is one of the healthiest natural beverages you can drink. It may be even more shocking that a sip of your favorite Cup of Joe may add up to your required body nutrients. One of those nutrients is potassium.
Apart from potassium, a cup of coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine and other vitamins and minerals such as riboflavin, vitamin k, folate, choline, niacin, calcium, pantothenic acid, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus.
Now that you know how rich your favorite brew is, you may be curious to know how much potassium is in coffee. Before we uncover how much potassium is really in your coffee, let’s explore what potassium is, how it’s essential to your body, and if you can keep a balanced potassium level using coffee.
Potassium in the Body
Potassium is not only an essential mineral in the body, it’s also a key molecule that facilitates the proper functioning of major organs. The electrolyte is required for muscle movement and nerve functioning and control. It’s also a vital component in fluid regulation in the body. Although the body doesn’t produce potassium, it naturally regulates how much is needed for optimal function. Abnormal levels of the mineral (whether too much or too little) are harmful to the body.
Daily Recommended Intake of Potassium
Although you should be striving towards getting to the recommended daily potassium values of 3,500 mg in your body, having at least 2,000 mg of it would be acceptable. On a balanced diet that includes vegetables and fruits, this will be easy to get. The challenge comes when your daily diet leans towards unhealthy, for the most part. On an unhealthy diet, you’ll find it highly difficult to get an absolute minimum of 800 mg of potassium in your day. Keep in mind that the daily required levels will also vary based on your gender, weight, body activity among other factors.
Health Benefits of Potassium
Consuming a potassium-rich diet is linked to several health benefits, but only if consumed at optimal levels.
- It is needed for the proper functioning of the muscles and to eliminate the risk of muscle loss. It also enhances energy levels and physical performance.
- The mineral prevents bone fractures that occur due to low calcium levels—a condition called osteoporosis. Potassium prevents the excess elimination of calcium from the body.
- It enhances cardiovascular activity: The mineral keeps the heart rate at healthy levels reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Lowers blood pressure: Potassium eliminates excess sodium (which increases blood pressure).
- Minimizes water retention in the body: Potassium helps eliminate excess fluid by increasing urine production.
- Keeps the neurons functioning properly: It is involved in sending electrical signals in the body.
Dangers of Potassium in the Body
At high levels, also known as hyperkalemia, potassium poses potential temporary or long-term threats to the body. It causes the muscles to cramp, unusually fast or slow heartbeat, and leaves one feeling tired. On its own, this condition is a death risk and is potentially highly risky for people suffering from chronic kidney disease (CDK).
Certain risk factors—such as excess potassium supplements, kidney disease, diabetes, chemotherapy, cocaine use, severe burns—may lead to excess potassium in the body. People with high potassium levels or kidney disease need to limit their potassium intake by taking foods low in the mineral.
Besides, in low levels, also known as hypokalemia, potassium can cause serious health issues such as fatigue, muscle cramps, and unusual heartbeat. Certain conditions—such as kidney disease, excessive diarrhea, sweating, and vomiting, overuse of diuretics, magnesium deficiency, and use of antibiotics—may lead to potassium deficiency.
Changes in potassium levels in the body are not a concern if you don’t have any risk factors. This is because healthy kidneys, in their functionality, maintain normal potassium levels by removing the excess in urine. But if the kidney already has health problems, it becomes difficult for your body to regulate potassium levels naturally. As such, you must measure the potassium content in your diet; if you fall under the category of those at risk, avoid foods with the high or low potassium content.
How Much Potassium is in Coffee?
Coffee is a great source of potassium in your diet. The potassium concentration in coffee will not vary depending on the roasting type (light or dark roasted or instant coffee) or processing. This shows that processing does not interfere with the potassium levels in coffee. However, the brand of coffee, amount and type (hard or soft) of water used, and additives added will determine slightly affect how much potassium is in your cup.
On average, a cup of black coffee (8-oz) contains approximately 116 mg of potassium. This accounts for 3 percent of your daily potassium value. Instant coffee, on the other hand, contains about 50-70 mg of potassium in a serving. Instant coffee can be an ideal option for anyone looking to enjoy their coffee but can’t afford too much potassium in their diet.
Coffee falls under the category of products with low potassium levels (less than 100 mg of potassium) when compared to other extremely high potassium foods that provide over 300 mg of potassium in a single serving.
Here are examples of potassium-rich foods:
- Fruits, mainly bananas, apricots, pineapples, kiwi, and oranges
- Vegetables, especially leafy greens, carrots, and potatoes
- Lean meats
- Whole grains
- Nuts and beans
Knowing which foods are high or low in potassium can help you control the amount of potassium in your diet. While most people will get enough potassium by consuming a balanced diet, supplements may be recommended by a doctor if the levels are low. In case of severe deficiency, then an intravenous (IV) treatment may be needed.
Can you Raise Potassium lLevels by Drinking Coffee?
A cup of coffee does so much to add the potassium levels in your body given that your body needs 3,500 mg of potassium daily, and a cup of coffee will only add 50 to 116 mg. But three to four cups can raise your potassium levels. Cumulatively, 5 cups of coffee will only add 580 mg of potassium to your body. At more than four to five cups of coffee in a day, you’ll be at a relatively high caffeine intake, which may be dangerous and cause adverse effects to your body.
Besides, adding additives such as milk, cream, or sugar can further raise potassium levels. Milk adds about 23 mg, cream about 16 mg, and creamer about 145 mg. An 8-oz of café latte with flavored syrup will, for instance, contain about 328 mg of potassium. As you can see, you can add coffee to your diet to boost your potassium intake. But if you’re looking to cut down on potassium intake, avoid adding additives; as you can see, they contribute a great deal of potassium on their own.
The main concern with drinking your coffee as your only source of potassium in your diet is that it’s been known to potentially cause hypokalemia. Drinking too much of the beverage can have negative repercussions. Coffee has a mild diuretic effect, which wouldn’t cause worry if just a few cups, but if taken in excess can be a problem. The diuretic action in coffee forces the body to lose high potassium levels from the body.
Your favorite cup of coffee will definitely add some potassium to your body. But the beverage is not the most potassium-rich food if you’re looking to add some significant amounts of potassium to your body. Having the drink as your only source of the essential mineral will require you to drink more than the recommended daily dose of caffeine (400 mg). This can cause more harm than good. That said, try incorporating more potassium-rich foods into your diet, and you can enjoy your favorite beverage without worrying about the potassium levels it has.