Potassium is the major intracellular cation in the body and it has many functions including muscle contraction, maintaining acid-base equilibrium, maintaining a regular heartbeat, transduction of nerve impulses, and removal of waste out of the cells.
Normal potassium level in the blood is maintained at a strict level between 3.5 to 5 millimoles per liter. A potassium level greater than 5 millimoles per liter is considered high potassium also called hyperkalemia and a potassium level lower than 3.5 millimoles per liter is considered hypokalemia.
Symptoms of Hyperkalemia
Features of hyperkalemia include:
If left untreated, hyperkalemia can lead to severe arrhythmia, heart block, and death within a matter of time.
Symptoms of Hypokalemia
Features of hypokalemia include:
- heart palpitations
- muscle weakness
If left untreated hypokalemia can lead to paralysis, respiratory failure, and death.
High and Low Potassium Foods
Since potassium is excreted via the kidneys, patients with kidney disease should be aware of their potassium intake as they have an impaired ability to excrete electrolytes. These people are often advised to limit the intake of high potassium foods while increasing the intake of low potassium foods
Some high potassium foods include the following:
- dried apricots
- coconut water
Some low potassium foods that a kidney patient can take include the following:
- white rice
- egg whites