Is Coconut Water a Good Source of Potassium?

Q I’d like to supplement with coconut water during this hot Texas weather. Coconut water seems to be an ample source of potassium, but is it a good source?

JOHN, Houston, TX

A It all depends on what you are trying to do. Potassium is essential for the proper functioning of the heart, kidneys, muscles, nerves, and digestive system. But, you don’t get enough from a conventional diet to meet some of these needs, especially as you get older.

Back 50,000 years ago, during the Human Paleolithic Age—which lasted from 200,000 years ago until the Neolithic Revolution (around 10,000 BP), when the initial transition from hunting and gathering to settled agriculture occurred—the dietary ratio of plant to animal foods in the human diet was about 65% to 35%. And because plants contain far more potassium than animals, the ratio of potassium to sodium was about the reverse of what it is today. Consequently, all too many people develop high blood pressure, which can be readily avoided by taking a potassium supplement, especially in the form of potassium bicarbonate. The amount you need to take is about 1.05 g of potassium bicarbonate four times daily with meals. The elemental amount of potassium in each 1.05 g is 410 mg) According to the US Food and Drug Administration, potassium bicarbonate is “generally recognized as safe.”

Regarding coconut water, the amount of potassium per cup may be as low as 250 mg per cup; it’s difficult to tell because there are few public analyses on which one can rely.

WARNING: IF YOU ARE TAKING A POTASSIUM SPARING DIURETIC PRESCRIPTION DRUG DO NOT TAKE SUPPLEMENTAL POTASSIUM!

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