Written by Pradeep
Our body needs several minerals to run different functions normally. One of the most important minerals, if not taken adequate quantity will affect the body function badly, is potassium.
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, boosting nerve communications, and also releasing energy from the carbohydrates, protein and fat. It also regulates blood pressure along with sodium.
Sodium and potassium perform almost same body function. Both are electrolytes (carrying electric charges) helping muscle contraction and nerve communication. But, both will do the same function in 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 the blood pressure.
Also, sodium intake always affects the potassium excretion from the body and vice versa. Thus, elevated intake of one mineral will result in intensifying the excretion of the other mineral.
Though a pregnant woman require almost 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 adequate quantity of potassium in the diet of the pregnant woman will help to minimize uneasiness which are common during pregnancy like Leg cramps and swelling of ankles and feet
When potassium levels falls below 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 which 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 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 electrolyte.
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 level 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:
Slight elevation in potassium levels often cause 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 adequate quantity of potassium is taken.