e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Increasing potassium intake to control blood pressure in children

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally. An estimated 17.5 million people died from CVDs in 2012, representing 31% of all deaths worldwide. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk for CVDs. Children with elevated blood pressure are at high risk of CVD pathology during childhood, and are also at high risk for hypertension and CVDs as adults.

Evidence shows that increasing potassium intake significantly reduces blood pressure in adults. In children, available studies show that increasing potassium intake reduces blood pressure by a small, but non-significant amount. Potassium is found in a variety of unrefined foods, including beans and peas, nuts, vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and parsley and fruits such as bananas, papayas and dates. Food processing reduces the amount of potassium in many food products, and a diet high in processed foods and low in fresh fruits and vegetables is often lacking in potassium.

Given the small number of trials in children, guidelines were developed based on systematic reviews for adults.

WHO recommendations

WHO suggests an increase in potassium intake from food to control blood pressure in children aged 2–15 years.

The recommended potassium intake of at least 90 mmol/day in adults should be adjusted downward for children, based on the energy requirements of children relative to those of adults.


These recommendations complement the WHO guideline on sodium consumption and should not be interpreted to replace or supersede that guideline. Public health interventions should aim to reduce sodium intake and simultaneously increase potassium intake through foods. Additional information can be found in the guidance summary, and in the guideline under 'WHO documents' below.

WHO documents

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines
Other guidance documents


Systematic reviews used to develop the guidelines
Clinical trials

Last update:

24 August 2016 17:00 CEST

Category 1 intervention

Guidelines have been recently approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee


There is not yet any implementation information related to this intervention in GINA

Global targets

Implementation of this intervention may contribute to the achievement of the following targets:

Global NCD targets

Target 6: A 25% relative reduction in the prevalence of raised blood pressure or contain the prevalence of raised blood pressure, according to national circumstances