The potassium puzzle

Q. Which of these contains the most potassium?

A. I’m beginning to think it doesn’t matter much.

But for what it’s worth, the coffee creamer has just as much potassium as the vitamin tablet (80 mg. each) and more than the Powerade (just 60 mg, only 2% of the daily recommended amount, same as Gatorade).

You would think that since potassium is supposedly an important electrolyte for athletes — involved in fluid regulation along with muscle and nervous system operation — that sports drinks would specialize in potassium. (The Muscle Milk giveaways at Sunday’s triathlon did have 900 mg per bottle, but that’s still less than one fifth of the 4,700 mg adults are supposed to be taking in every day.)

So here’s my question: If I never, ever get enough potassium — I mean, I’m usually nowhere close to the daily requirement, even when I try — shouldn’t I be feeling weird, especially in a week in which I did a 20K bike race, ran a DIY mini-marathon AND completed a sprint triathlon?

I know I don’t sweat as much as some people do, or at least not as much as my sister does. But her diet has got to be way worse than mine in terms of potassium intake, given that A) She eats less than I do, and B) Her diet tends to contain a higher proportion of processed foods. (She doesn’t like fruit and veggies as much as I do, is all I’m saying.)

All of which makes me wonder if the USDA requirements are off base, at least in regard to this one nutrient.

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