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How Many Bananas Does It Take to Poison You?

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Bananas contain potassium. (mconnors, morguefile.com)
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  • You probably know too much water and too many apple or cherry seeds can kill you, but did you know eating too many bananas may lead to an early demise? It's not their high radiation signature. It's because bananas contain potassium. But wait, you may be saying, isn't potassium good for me? It is, but like everything else, too much potassium is bad for you. Too much potassium can lead to heart damage and cardiac arrest. I was reminded of that when reading about an upcoming attempt to set a new world record for eating bananas. Apparently the world record effort has been scaled back so that it involves more people eating bananas and not people eating as many bananas as possible. The reason for the change was to prevent health problems or death from over-eating bananas. I couldn't help but wonder exactly how many bananas you would have to eat in order to ingest a dangerous amount of potassium. I mean... what are we talking about here? Three bananas? Ten? I have a friend who ate 7 bananas as part of some weird man-challenge. He isn't dead and didn't go into cardiac arrest, but he assures me that is nearing the upper limit of banana-eating. How many bananas do you think it takes to poison you with potassium?

    Comments

    February 19, 2009 at 11:17 am

    (1) Meri says:

    I, as a banana lover since childhood, often eat as many as I buy, which is usually 5 or more during an evening. And I suppose that I HAVE eaten more, and yet no noticable damage has ever occured.

    Judging by the information given at whfoods.org (a site I do trust) an average banana has 13.4% of the recommended daily amount of potassium, so 7-8 bananas, if you don’t eat any other foods that are rich in potassium, seems to be the daily norm potassium-wise. Maybe all is not that dangerous

    February 19, 2009 at 11:17 am

    (2) JOhn says:

    Great question!

    Here’s what I found on the subject: “The normal level of potassium in the bloodstream is in the range of 3.5-5.0 mM, while levels of 6.3-8.0 mM (severe hyperkalemia) result in cardiac arrhythmias or even death due to cardiac arrest. Potassium is potentially quite toxic, however toxicity or death due to potassium poisoning is usually prevented because of the vomiting reflex. The consumption of food results in mild increases in the concentration of potassium in the bloodstream, but levels of potassium do not become toxic because of the uptake of potassium by various cells of the body, as well as by the action of the kidneys transferring the potassium ions from the blood to the urine. The body’s regulatory mechanisms can easily be overwhelmed, however, when potassium chloride is injected intravenously, as high doses of injected potassium can easily result in death.” (Source:http://www.healthatoz.com/healthatoz/Atoz/common/standard/transform.jsp?requestURI=/healthatoz/Atoz/ency/mineral_toxicity.jsp)

    Knowing that, it seems like one could calculate how many bananas would need to be eaten to get that level of potassium in the blood. I’m assuming this is where calculus (ack!) would come in: Let’s say it takes 100 bananas for easy math. By the time you get to the 50th banana, maybe the potassium from the first five bananas has already finished its “tour” in the bloodstream and you know have to eat five more. You may never catch up!

    February 19, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    (3) Tomato Addict says:

    It only takes ONE banana! 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RKTSwAVaoU

    February 21, 2009 at 6:14 am

    (4) eldie etuk says:

    as a banana lover i would advice that we eat as much as we like but that doesnt mean that we should eat a whole bunch.it will really break my heart to hear that someone died of banana intoxication.too much of everything is not good,i hope we do know that so let us make the very best choices.go go banana!

    February 23, 2009 at 7:39 am

    (5) nuel.. says:

    Its very impossiblel for one to say a three banana can kill, i can eat up to seven every evening an you still see me in good health.
    so stop the rumours………………..

    February 23, 2009 at 7:40 am

    (6) nuel.. says:

    Its very impossible for one to say a three banana can kill, i can eat up to seven every evening an you still see me in good health.
    so stop the rumours………………..

    February 23, 2009 at 9:33 am

    (7) Bob S says:

    Bananas are rich in vaso active amines – particularly when they are green. Is it possible that this is the origin of their reputed toxicity?

    February 23, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    (8) LYNNS says:

    BANANAS ARE’NT POISONOUS ORIGINALLY but like the saying goes, too much of everything they say is bad, so why eat up a bunch full for any reason of sort………..my candid advice is lets take everything in moderate quantity., say about 5 banana is ok daily!

    February 23, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    (9) Don Dewsnap says:

    *creak* I think these youth today *hack* should appreciate their *kaff* deity-given bodies and not pollute themselves with *ack* poisons like bananas. *gasp* Stick to normal pleasures like tobacco. Say no to bananas! *rattle*

    February 24, 2009 at 2:40 am

    (10) Ehsan says:

    It is very strange i must say to read that eating too many bananas can kill you.Does any case is noted or not.If yes then please tell me about this

    May 4, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    (11) Sam says:

    Well, I have pseudohypoaldestronism Type 2, and if I have wayyy too many bananas or anything with too much potassium I can get very ill. The end result can easily be a heart attack because my blood pressure could easily get out of control.. I am taking hydrochlorothrozide which, well duh, lowers my blood pressure.. Yep, very strange…

    February 24, 2009 at 5:33 am

    (12) Shimelis says:

    I usually eat 3-5 bannanas at a time.I know friends who eat 7-10 bannanas at a time and nothing dangerous happend to them.Still they are in good health.I wold like to know howmuch bannana is dangerous.How much Potassium is found in one bannana (averege)? I think the concentration of K depends on the mass and varity of bannana.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    (13) Raj Sharma says:

    My blood pressure had started going up-150/110. I started taking 7 bananas and 3 plums everyday. In three weeks my BP came down to 120/80. Of course I did other things like cutting down drastically on salt, saturated fats etc.

    February 24, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    (14) Penny says:

    I always had a banana for breakfast and I was a heavy smoker and I was in a rush and I found out that way that bananas are not entirely good for your heart because my heart was racing and I just didn’t feel very healthy. I stopped eating bananas after my morning cigarette soon after and felt alot better. I was just reading bananas are supposed to be good for your if you want to quit smoking but I disagree after that. I don’t smoke anymore and eat a balanced diet so problem solved there.

    June 28, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    (15) aaa says:

    Um…maybe it was your cigarette smoking and you being in a rush that had your heart racing?…..

    October 22, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    (16) wabababing says:

    what have you been told
    using common sense is dangerous
    why blame the unhealthy lifestyle when you can blame the healthy foods

    February 24, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    (17) susan says:

    I highly doubt that bananas are toxic. I am even wondering whether you are talking about something different:may be strange species of banana! You never know, but from the snap am seeing, it is the usual banana i have consumed ever since i was weaned. Bananas are ma staple food. We eat bananas from Jan to Dec year after year; but i have never even heard of any single complaint due to bananas. We have different species: food (meals), snacks, juice or local brew, fruit to mention but a few. I have never heard of anyone in ma home area grumbling, and i do not expect to hear that in the near future!

    March 11, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    (18) Heather says:

    PEOPLE do not realize that the body needs 4,500 of potassium a day which many of us are lucky if we get 1,000 a day a lack of potassium can cause so many health problems mostly heart and muscle diseas. Yogurt has PO in it as well as fruits like bannanas strawberries and tuna fish. I would think its impossible to get too much of this. I would look on the back of lables and see how much it has in it. Another inportant vitamin is magneesium that too is hard to get enough of in 24 hours.

    March 11, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    (19) Rob says:

    A person can eat up to 8 bannanas a day and be ok no harm done. as long as you don’t get other potassium foods.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:03 am

    (20) rahul says:

    I eat,on an average,25-30 bananas a day with about a dozen at a time.I have had no heart problems.There is no such thing as “too many bananas” .Banana is a primal food,you can eat as many till you feel satisfied.

    May 19, 2009 at 12:27 am

    (21) Karlin says:

    A average-size banana contains 500 mg. of potassium; If we need 5000 mgs per day, then about 10 would be ideal if that is our only PO source. But you never get caught up, as #2 explained; bananas are wonderfull food, one of few that a person can eat only that and survive.

    So 10 WON’T kill you, but the question was how many does it take to kill you?

    IT ONLY TAKES ONE. The Tomato Addict said so.

    and then…
    and then…
    and then…
    YOU GO BANANAS!!

    September 26, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    (22) Kate says:

    oh god i know some poeple who have about 100 bananas in a day

    July 26, 2009 at 8:59 am

    (23) Les says:

    maybe the banana u are talking about is a special one?

    July 26, 2009 at 9:09 am

    (24) Lynn says:

    No bananas wont kill my favourite fruit is bananas u noe?>T_T

    July 26, 2009 at 9:11 am

    (25) Emox3girl says:

    if bananas overeating can kill i suppose every over eating of fruits can kill too? if not it is not fair> T_T

    August 5, 2009 at 4:30 am

    (26) richard murphy says:

    you can live on bananas. the bbc did an experiment, chlesterol dropped 23%, the volunteers were happier, blood pressure dropped massively…
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6248975.stm

    our nearest biological and genetic cousins live on them. my friend ate nothing other than bananas for 5 weeks, i’ve never seen him look so healthy and radiant.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    (27) Bandana says:

    I can’t find any records of anyone ever being killed by eating a banana except from a heart attack caused by choking on a banana or by slipping on a banana peel. Water can rid you of the excess dietary potassium. If you have diabetes, however, the high level of blood sugar from to many bananas can eventually destroy your capillaries and kill you.

    September 11, 2009 at 11:41 am

    (28) jeremy says:

    since i was a child i have loved bananas, though now i cant eat them due to my acid reflux. im not sure exactly why they hurt my esophagus, but every time i eat them, it gets very painful.

    before they started bothering me, however, i would eat at least 4 a day, most of the time more. i have eaten 15 in one day (but that was not in one sitting, it was throughout about 10 hours), and i am mostly fine. i think as long as you drink a lot of water you would be ok.

    November 17, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    (29) Mr.HavingA- DumbDay says:

    I had badly cooked white beans today, was feeling a little nauseous, i didn’t know about how bad that was. And when my friend came over he brought a banana, which i ate since it usually makes me feel great. This combination however seemed to throw me over the edge. Puked violently for the second time in 10 years, so im usually either quite healthy or just have a strong stomach, i don’t know. What i can confirm from this experience is the banana really pushed me over the edge :p and that my friends has puked before from eating 5 bananas (fresh thai bananas). I must also note – there are loads of types of bananas which whatever researcher should acknowledge…i don’t know the different types myself sorry…

    November 26, 2009 at 3:25 am

    (30) mons says:

    i dont accept that banana’s are killers . you would have heard a proverb that “TOO MUCH OF ANY THING IS GOOD FOR NOTHING” .This message is like that .

    January 19, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    (31) nolan says:

    It takes 190g of oral potassium to kill a 165lb person. If each banana contains approximately 500mg, that means that person would have to eat 95 bananas to cause cardiac arrest.
    Love,
    Nolan

    October 24, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    (32) bob says:

    nice math, but it would actually take 380 according to your findings (500mg = 1/2 gram)

    January 26, 2010 at 11:10 am

    (33) Adam E says:

    I had a banana and it nearly killed me wiht potaisuim poison

    April 15, 2011 at 11:32 am

    (34) Joyce S. says:

    Okay, whatever! One banana can NOT give you potassium poisoning!

    Bananas in general can’t hurt anyone (unless you’re allergic to them), but too much potassium can. Like Nolan wrote; “It takes 190g of oral potassium to kill a 165lb person. If each banana contains approximately 500mg, that means that person would have to eat 95 bananas to cause cardiac arrest.”

    So, eat your bananas, and stop worrying!

    June 27, 2011 at 9:04 am

    (35) JJ says:

    Yeah me 2 lol

    February 22, 2010 at 11:20 am

    (36) Derek says:

    My best friend’s ex-girlfriend is a strict vegetarian and used to eat lots of bananas every day, she ended up with Potassium poisoning
    So yes it does happen, I imagine she had been eating a lot of them for a long time before it got to that dangerous level
    The diagnosis was made by a Doctor who recommended she cut down on the bananas and she’s been fine ever since

    March 10, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    (37) Patrick says:

    Table 9.2 Safe upper level (or guidance level) and effect of excess for selected metals.
    Metal Safe upper level per day/mg (adult) Problem
    potassium * (3700) stomach pain, nausea, diarrhoea
    sodium * (2300) increased blood pressure (hypertension) increasing risk of heart attack or strokes
    calcium * (1500) stomach pain, diarrhoea, kidney stones, milk alkali syndrome
    magnesium * (400) diarrhoea
    iron * (17) constipation, stomach pain, cirrhosis of liver, impaired heart function and failure
    zinc 25 reduces absorption of copper and iron, leading to anaemia and weakening of bones
    copper 10 stomach pain, damage to the liver and kidneys.
    * Insufficient data to establish a safe upper level – value given is a guidance value for supplemental doses producing no adverse reaction.

    March 13, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    (38) Everyday Bikeathon says:

    I bike to work 26 miles a day. When I get there a man selling fruit gives up to a dozen small bananas for a dollar.. Sometimes I eat all of them without sharing throughout the day. They are always ripe and sometimes I through away the funky part. Somebody told me that maybe I should not be eating so many bananas but it has been a while and I am still doing great. I notice that Mc Donalds sells two breakfast sandwiches for three dollars and lots of people get into that routine. I think to be fair 12 bananas a day for a dollar is much safer and healthier than 10 breakfast sandwiches a week and not to mention more filling and 10 dollars cheaper. I don’t think I am making any intelligable point here put that what I was thinking. Maybe I should starting eating an orange and 3-4 bananas. I should also avoid donuts and hashbrowns and anything via Mickey D’s.

    September 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    (39) Bananas992 says:

    I am suprised you have enough energy after daily hits of 3,500-4,800 milligrams of potassium from bananas only to make that kind of trip. In hopes that you have realized that Mcdonalds breakfast sandwiches are perfect for 26 mile bike rides since March 13, 2010 you should still be alive and not receiving medical treatments from potassium damage. On that level of cardio you need more carbohydrates than you can handle to keep up with energy levels unless you are running off of some serious fat which I doubt because heavy people rarely can make a 26 mile trip on a bike. Try an apple with a banana, whole grain toast, and a scoop of whey protein for a better change. Never overly hardcore eat any one food like that because I did it too with almonds. I started having muscle fatigue and mental confusion from it so I changed my diet and spread it out. Good Luck!

    March 22, 2010 at 6:56 am

    (40) byron deacon says:

    personaly i love bannanas, especialy the ripe ones, they dont snap when i put them up my butt, i then eat them, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8… 56 bannas is the record that i have eaten and yes, i died so this is proof to many bannanas do kill.
    i also think you are all sad for commenting on the articly, its bananas GET OVER IT!!! what is safe to eat these days???

    April 15, 2011 at 11:36 am

    (41) Joyce S. says:

    How about you GROW up?!!!

    March 22, 2010 at 9:16 am

    (42) issac sweeney says:

    ive also had a bad case of banana poisoning when i put too many of them up my arse.. it was very enjoyable i would reccomend it apart from the poisoning oh and im gay btw

    April 15, 2011 at 11:38 am

    (43) Joyce S. says:

    Sounds like you and Byron need your diapers changed and a nap! Again, GROW up!

    April 5, 2010 at 8:06 am

    (44) Aku Momin says:

    I never knew that too much of bananas can be harmful,hyperkalemia symptoms varies from patients to patients…harmful effects on the skeletal and cardiac muscles like twitching and abnormalities in ecg(peaked t-waves) are seen.Maybe recorded or not recorded in medical history of banana toxicity as far as i know it is still safe to have bananas within your capacities.Care should be stressed on people with renal failure both acute and severe,hypoaldosteronism,and those who have poor urinary output…

    April 16, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    (45) Katy says:

    You’d have to eat quite a few and not urinate. Your kidneys would get rid of the excess nutrient.

    May 21, 2010 at 6:18 am

    (46) paul says:

    i Googled this today because i was feeling some bad effects this morning which i beleived was because of the bananas i had eaten yesterday.
    overall i felt fine even tho i had eaten a total of 12 bananas over a few hours. the only effect i had was odd diarrhea this morning with chunks of banana still in it ( sorry to be so detailed lol )
    i guess over a short time that potassium poisoning isnt likly because the body will rid itself of any excess food either through diarrhea or vomiting, but i guess if u continue to eat a substantial amount of bananas daily, keeping your potasium levels high then it is likly that you may suffer from other more serious effects

    August 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    (47) sam says:

    how can you see left over banana in your poop. I mean. unless the banana was HARD. and you did not chew it.

    If a piece of banana was still in us poop after going through you. you have more issues than to many bananas.

    June 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    (48) Yeah man says:

    I have been eating an average of 5 bananas per day in the last year for four consequitive days and have no medical or health problems. I am very energetic and from my last medical a very healthy person thank to the lord almighty.

    July 25, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    (49) Alexandra says:

    I have High Potassium and when i eat even half of a banana i feel like my heart will pop out my chest at any given moment and its very painful ive had it all my life and i have to be cautious because it is a very scary experience when you feel short of breath and light headed after taking one bite of banana but im the only one in my family with taht kinda problem my grandma has low potacium which is almost just as bad but is easily solved

    September 7, 2010 at 6:24 am

    (50) Guest says:

    To poison: take 15 large bananas, scoop out the seeds down the centre, boil dry in water. Consume the dry residue. Call 911.
    To get high: take 15 large bananas, scrape the pith from the skins, biol dry in water. Smoke.
    Dont do this though obviously. You should never mess around with anything that alters electrolyte activity in your body (such as sodium and potassium)

    April 15, 2011 at 11:41 am

    (51) Joyce S. says:

    Play, and I suppose you lick toads also?

    April 15, 2011 at 11:42 am

    (52) Joyce S. says:

    *okay (typo)

    September 15, 2010 at 12:18 am

    (53) Mandingo says:

    I have a large long killer banana for the ladies  Skin is already peeled, that’s right ladies.

    April 15, 2011 at 11:44 am

    (54) Joyce S. says:

    You just keep believing that… Time to wake up!
    “Mandingo” <- LMAO!!!

    September 29, 2010 at 2:33 am

    (55) Steven says:

    WELL I BET A MONKEY OR AN APE CAN EAT AS MANY BANNANAS AS YOU GIVE THEM WITHOUT DYING.

    October 10, 2010 at 3:20 am

    (56) Robin Nixon says:

    Actually you can overdose on bananas and give yourself arrhythmias (irregular heart beat), if you are also on a potassium drug for lowering blood pressure. In which case you can go past the maximum dose level quite easily. And if you also use a low salt alternative containing potassium then you are definitely going to feel the effect if you also have too many bananas. Basically, if you are on a potassium drug you should use very little low salt and only 1 banana a day to avoid possible side effects.

    October 27, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    (57) erlar says:

    the toxicity of bananas might not come from potassium but from oxalic acid;
    they contain a lot of it and it may cause lithiase.

    November 6, 2010 at 8:26 am

    (58) julie says:

    I’m known for my strange eating habits but I have about 16 apples and about 6 bananas a day. If I didn’t I would have bowel problems and therefore on medication. I handed myself in to my gp but he didn’t think that it was a problem.

    I want to know if I’m getting enough of other foods I eat lots of vegatbles, porridge in the morning, milk, yogurts meat.

    Where can I get this information please?

    June 23, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    (59) biggermandingo says:

    who in the **** eats PORRIDGE anymore? George Washington survived winters on scraping rock tripe (green mold) and boiling it with pine needles. Theres a bunch of healthy stuff in dirt too. And insects are lb for lb the ONLY AND HEALTHIEST way to FEED THE ENTIRE WORLD.

    however….thats all disgusting. and….

    i have a microwave that can nuke whale shaped chicken nuggets in literally 5 seconds. seeing as i am a 3rd generation microwave user “evolution”- and adding in that more nutrients are lost the LONGER YOU COOK THINGS.
    this is THE HEALTHIEST WAY FOR ME TO EAT AND ABSORB THE MOST FROM MY FOOD .
    welcome to the future.
    throw your porridge in the laser incinerator.

    October 6, 2011 at 3:45 am

    (60) P-dilla says:

    Dude I will admit that porridge is an out dated concept or word but really this is kinda mean that way you just spoke to this lady Julie don’t you think?

    November 6, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    (61) Looper says:

    1-800-bananas (bananaholics anonymous)

    December 5, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    (62) Mike says:

    I crunched in the numbers and here’s what I got: for a person weighing 60 kg, you will only need 17-18 bananas to induce a cardiac arrest. The actual number might be higher because the kidneys remove excess potassium from the bloodstream.

    Here are some of the data and assumptions I worked with:

    -each banana contains 450mg of potassium
    -the normal blood concentration of potassium is 3.5-5.0mM
    -the concentration of potassium needed to induce a cardiac arrest is 6.3-8.0mM
    -a human body is 60% water (w/w)
    -To keep my calculations simple, I didn’t consider the natural capability of the kidneys to remove excess electrolytes.
    -I didn’t involve other xenophobic proteins in the body that might fight against potassium poisoning.

    References:
    http://www.answers.com/topic/mineral-toxicity
    http://www.ehow.com/how_4529727_much-potassium-banana_.html


    January 6, 2011 at 12:56 am

    (63) dtrer says:

    my girlfriend eats on average 8 bananas a day and we have been together for a year. No sign of cardiac arrest!

    January 11, 2011 at 9:36 am

    (64) Monty says:

    Why would anyone feel the need to eat 8 bananas a day? Is there no other food available?

    February 9, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    (65) eric says:

    Hi,
    My name is Eric and when i eat a banana an amazing transformation occurs. I become bananaman, with the muscles of twenty men, and the brains of twenty mussels.

    February 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    (66) Lorenzo says:

    Thank you all for posting, I came here concerned, as I have been eating 3 bananas per day. I like to make half of a sandwich using banana with peanut butter(real peanut butter) no B.S. brands with corn syrup and such.
    However, I leave here feeling comfortable that 3 of these wonderfully satisfying treats per day will not harm my physical condition.

    P.S. My hat is off, in honor of Banana-man!

    June 5, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    (67) Abcedere says:

    It’s gotten worse, in a way. Freeze dried bananas! Once you start, you can’t stop! Well, okay–You can stop, because they fill you up. I don’t know if these are new or not. They are new to me. They’re 100% better than fried banana chips

    Potassium per 2.5 oz bag is 930 mg.

     

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