EFSA potassium opinion up for debate

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

EFSA has set an adequate intake (AI) of 4,000 mg per day for lactating women. ©iStock/elena_hramowa
EFSA has set an adequate intake (AI) of 4,000 mg per day for lactating women. ©iStock/elena_hramowa

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The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has launched a public opinion on its draft dietary reference values for potassium.

EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) endorsed the 70-page draft opinion​ on the essential mineral at an open meeting in Brussels at the end of June.

After a three-hour run-through, the values were adopted with little changes made.

NDA chair Dominique Turck said the opinion “was pretty clear”.

Deadlines & timelines

EFSA now invites interested parties to submit comments by 24 August.

The panel said they hoped the final document would be published by the end of the year following this public consultation.  

The values

EFSA said it was not able to set average requirements for potassium due to data limitations, but instead it set adequate intakes (AI) and used adult values to extrapolate AIs for children.

  • Adult men and women: 3,500 mg/day
  • Infants aged seven to 11 months: 750 mg/day
  • Children aged one to three years: 800 mg/day
  • Teenagers aged 15 to 17 years: 3,500 mg/day
  • Pregnant women: 3,500 mg/day
  • Lactating women: 4,000 mg/day

Blood pressure & stroke

The DRVs were based on the relationships between potassium intake and blood pressure and stroke.

The panel looked at randomised controlled studies and an observational cohort study on European adults that suggested a potassium intake of 3,500 mg per day was beneficial for blood pressure.

They also said there was "consistent evidence"​ from observational cohort studies that daily potassium intakes below 3,500 mg were associated with a higher risk of stroke.

EU intakes

Based on data from 13 dietary surveys in nine EU countries, the opinion said average potassium intakes ranged from:

  • 821 to 1,535 mg per day in infants aged less than one year
  • 1,516 to 2,005 mg per day in children aged one to three years
  • 1,668 to 2,750 mg per day in children aged three to 10 years
  • 2,093 to 3,712 mg per day in children aged 10 to 18 years
  • 162,463 to 3,991 mg per day in adults

Potassium is present in all natural foods, with good sources including bananas, sweet potatoes and beans. 

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1 comment


Posted by Philip Keyter,

I am aghast at the proposals by EFSA to impose/recommend these high levels of K on the human population. There is discussion about the supposed correlation of K intake (lack of) to strokes??? What utter nonsense considering the omission of far higher causative factors for the onset of strokes. Potassium or the lack of it must be at the bottom of the list for strokes. Also the link to blood pressure is tenuous and must surely be correlated to concomitant intake of sodium.
There does exist a relation of K to Na as well as other minerals but you make no mention of this which in my opinion is a grave oversight. In this context I would dare to hope that you would review your proposed K level from the extraordinary high level to a more sensible one and at the same time correlate it to other mineral levels!!! Failing that you will have seriously compromised your integrity and reputation!!!!!

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