High potassium or hyperkalemia in kidney disease

As the kidney function declines so does the ability remove potassium from the blood stream.  A potassium level that is too  high or too low is dangerous and can cause death.

Hyperkalemia or high potassium is detected through a blood test.  The normal values are  3.6 to 5.2.  Potassium is a major nutrient that is important for proper cardiac function and for the working of muscles and nerves.

A somewhat simple formula for identifying high potassium foods are usually the healthier a food is the higher the potassium level.  (Although this formula does not work in all cases.)  Spinach, kale, asparagus are all high potassium foods and white bread and white rice are lower in potassium than their wheat and brown counterparts.   

At present my potassium level is at 5.2.  I am taking a potassium binder once weekly, a chalky powder mixed with juice.  I also hardly ever eat any of my beloved potatoes.  I am Lithuanian and potatoes are written in our DNA, think potato pancakes, kugelis (a potato pudding) and potato pierogi.  Also, I love spaghetti and the sauce is loaded with potassium.  If one wants to indulge watch your portions closely.

There is a process called leaching which removes some of the potassium from vegetables. I don’t know how much it removes as, there are different methods and of course, different varieties of vegetables.  But if you must cheat once in awhile try the leaching method.

You will find that many foods do not list their potassium levels but the National Kidney Foundation has been instrumental in advocating to congress that nutrition labels include potassium counts.  The new nutrition labels are expected to be in full force in the spring of 2018.

Ask your doctor how much potassium you should limit in a day some common amounts are 1,500 to 2,000 mg a day.


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One Response to High potassium or hyperkalemia in kidney disease

  1. Pingback: Double Check or Die, Chronic Kidney Disease | Kidney Disease and Me

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