Importance Of Potassium During Pregnancy

5 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

Importance Of Potassium During Pregnancy

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.

In This Article

What is The Importance Of Mineral Potassium During Pregnancy?

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.

How Are Sodium And Potassium Related?

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.

What Is The Significance Of Potassium During Pregnancy?

What Is The Significance Of Potassium During Pregnancy_

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:

  • The blood volume expands by 50% during pregnancy. To keep the extra volume in the right chemical balance, a little more electrolyte (sodium, potassium, and chloride together) is needed.
  • Lots of potassium that is taken can be lost through vomiting associated with morning sickness. To balance this the intake should be increased slightly.

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.

What Happens When Potassium Levels Are Lower During Pregnancy?

When potassium levels fall below the normal level can result in the following conditions:

  • Edema is the swelling cause during pregnancy due to water retention. It can occur in any part of the body. But most swellings are found to concentrate on ankles and legs. For this, the blame goes to “the gravity”
  • Low blood pressure
  • Numbness
  • Dizziness
  • Abnormal heart beats
  • Unusual weakness in the muscles
  • Constipation
  • Depression

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.

What Are Some Potassium-Rich Foods That Are Good During Pregnancy?

Potassium-Rich Foods

Some of the special, potassium-rich food are:

  • Bananas, which are an energy boosting fruit not only contain potassium, but also a high percentage of fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin B6
  • Dried fruits like apricot, peaches, raisins, figs, etc., can also satisfy the sugar carving common during pregnancy without arising other complications
  • Sun-dried tomatoes, which provide more potassium in a single-cup serving

Should I Take Potassium Supplements During Pregnancy?

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.

What Happens When Potassium Levels Are Elevated During Pregnancy?


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:

  • Kidney failure makes it impossible for the body to eliminate the extra potassium from the body
  • Usage of drugs and alcohol can result in the breaking down of muscles. This, in turn, releases a high amount of potassium into the blood from muscle cells
  • Dehydration, type 1 diabetes, etc., can trigger hyperkalemia

What Are The Symptoms Of High Potassium Level In The Blood?

A slight elevation in potassium levels often causes no noticeable symptoms. If the potassium level elevates enough to cause symptoms, the signs include:

  • Issues develop which make breathing difficult
  • Uncontrollable nausea and vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Skipped heartbeat
  • Feeling terribly tired
  • Palpitations

Extreme hyperkalemia can cause paralysis.

How Can Hyperkalemia Be Treated?

Treating hyperkalemia

Hyperkalemia can be treated by:

  • Low potassium diet: limit the food items that are high in potassium. Avoid salt supplements that listed KCl (potassium chloride)
  • Hemodialysis: Here, a machine is used to remove the waste as the kidneys are unable to do it
  • Using diuretics: Diuretics are medicines that cause you to urinate more. This will help the kidney to eliminate more potassium. But during pregnancy, make sure you drink plenty of water, to eliminate the possibility of dehydration

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.


1. How Much Potassium Should A Pregnant Woman Take?

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.

2. What Happens If Potassium Is Low During Pregnancy?

Low potassium levels during pregnancy have been linked to symptoms including lethargy, weakness, muscular cramps, diarrhoea, and even irregular heartbeats.

3. Can High Potassium Affect Pregnancy?

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.

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

Responses (0)

Please check a captcha

Want curated content sharply tailored for your exact stage of parenting?

Discover great local businesses around you for your kids.

Get regular updates, great recommendations and other right stuff at the right time.


Our site uses cookies to make your experience on this site even better. We hope you think that is sweet.