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Potassium, a crucial mineral, plays a vital role during pregnancy, contributing to the overall health and well-being of both the mother and the developing baby. As an essential electrolyte, potassium helps maintain proper fluid balance, regulates blood pressure, and supports nerve function and muscle contractions. Adequate intake of potassium during pregnancy is necessary to prevent muscle cramps, promote a healthy heart, and aid in the development of the baby’s nervous system.
By incorporating potassium-rich foods into a balanced diet, expectant mothers can ensure they meet their daily potassium requirements. However, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate potassium levels for individual needs and avoid excessive intake. Know everything about potassium during pregnancy here.
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Potassium is a mineral generally found in many food items like fruits, vegetables, yogurt, milk, red meat, fish, chicken, etc. Potassium plays a significant role in keeping up fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Potassium is also a key mineral helping in muscle contraction, boosts nerve communications, and also releasing energy from carbohydrates, protein, and fat. It also regulates blood pressure along with sodium.
Sodium and potassium perform almost the same body function. Both are electrolytes (carrying electric charges) helping muscle contraction and nerve communication. But, both will do the same function in an opposing manner.
That is, when sodium pulls fluid out of the cells, increasing blood pressure, potassium draws fluid into the cells decreasing blood pressure. Both together will regulate blood pressure.
Also, sodium intake always affects the potassium excretion from the body and vice versa. Thus, an elevated intake of one mineral will result in intensifying the excretion of the other mineral.
Though a pregnant woman requires almost the same amount of potassium as a non-pregnant woman (4,700 mg per day), regular intake of potassium-rich food should be increased as:
Taking an adequate quantity of potassium in the diet of the pregnant woman will help to minimize uneasiness which is common during pregnancy like Leg cramps and swelling of ankles and feet.
When potassium levels fall below the normal level can result in the following conditions:
Most significantly, low levels of potassium in pregnancy can lead to a condition called hypokalemia. Untreated hypokalemia can end in severe kidney problems or even death.
Some of the special, potassium-rich food are:
Most of the time, potassium supplements are not needed as there are plenty of food items that are rich in potassium. Even if you think a large amount of potassium is being lost through vomiting, it is important to seek guidance from your doctor to determine the adequate dosage, as uncontrolled intake of potassium can cause dangerous issues. If your doctor diagnoses low-level potassium he will decide how to restore potassium levels in your blood depending on the severity. The restoration of potassium can vary from a renewed diet to intravenous administration of electrolytes.
When potassium levels become higher than the normal level in the blood, it can lead to dangerous and probably deadly issues. The situation with higher potassium levels is called hyperkalemia. Untreated hyperkalemia can result in the death of the mother as the heart can stop beating.
Hyperkalemia can be caused due to:
A slight elevation in potassium levels often causes no noticeable symptoms. If the potassium level elevates enough to cause symptoms, the signs include:
Extreme hyperkalemia can cause paralysis.
Hyperkalemia can be treated by:
Hence, even though potassium is an important and unavoidable mineral, regulating its level in the blood is as important as making sure an adequate quantity of potassium is taken.
Potassium consumption guidelines for pregnant women vary with maternal age. Pregnant girls and young women under the age of 18 need 2,600 milligrams (mg) of potassium per day. Pregnant women, above 18 years, need 2,900 milligrams of potassium every day.
Low potassium levels during pregnancy have been linked to symptoms including lethargy, weakness, muscular cramps, diarrhoea, and even irregular heartbeats.
Extremely high potassium levels during pregnancy might cause renal failure or even cardiac arrest. Additionally, it may exacerbate mellitus type 1 diabetes and produce severe, sometimes deadly dehydration.
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