Potassium is a mineral we need for our health. It helps control our nerves and muscles, which is important for our heart and helps manage our blood pressure. While we need potassium to live, people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) need to pay attention to their potassium intake. In this article, we will review why monitoring potassium is important, and what foods should be limited to avoid high potassium levels.
People with CKD have reduced function in their kidneys, which decreases their ability to filter fluids and electrolytes (like potassium) from the body. Too much potassium, or hyperkalemia, can cause serious side effects like chest palpitations, abnormal heart rhythms, and muscle weakness.
While we want to prevent hyperkalemia, we also want to prevent low potassium levels, or hypokalemia. Hypokalemia symptoms include metabolic acidosis, respiratory failure, or abnormal heart rhythms.
In other words, we want our potassium levels in the blood to be just right. You can manage this with what you eat.
If you’ve been told that you have low levels of potassium, you may want to eat foods that contain medium to high potassium content more often. On the contrary, you may want to eat foods that contain low potassium if you have high levels of potassium in your blood. Check the list below to see what you need.
*Quick tip: If you occasionally decide to have some medium or high potassium foods, and you have been told to avoid these, steam or boil them to help reduce potassium content, and toss out the water. By cooking them in water, much of the potassium gets leached out into the water.
Potassium is an essential nutrient that helps our muscles move and can even help lower blood pressure. However, balanced potassium levels are important, especially in CKD. By getting regular labs done and working with your doctor or Registered Dietitian, you can find a balance of potassium intake to help reach your optimal health!