Are you one of those future mothers who are afraid about the fact that potassium deficiency may affect the development of your baby? Well, your fears may not be unfounded.
Actually, experts even advise expecting mothers not to exclude foods rich in potassium during the prenatal period.
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What Is Potassium?
Potassium is an essential mineral which improves the communication between nerves and muscles, the body`s electrolytic balance as well as helps for the fetal optimal development. However, it`s vital to maintain the level of potassium under control, because an increased level may lead to hyperkalemia.
Health Benefits of Potassium during Pregnancy
While expecting a baby, your body requires a certain amount of potassium to function normally. This important mineral helps the body and maintains the hydrophobic and electrolytic balance. Moreover, it plays a critical role in the muscle contraction, transmission of nerve impulses and the release of energy of vital nutrients as fats, proteins or carbohydrates. A low level of potassium while pregnant may trigger side effects and lead to various complications.
Since the blood volume doubles while pregnant, you`ll require a particular amount of potassium in order to maintain the chemical balance of your body. Thus, if you consume foods rich in potassium, you`ll manage to prevent those so well known cramps that are so common during pregnancy.
Potassium is abundant in seawater and soil, and a particular amount of potassium is vital to all animals or plants. In the human body, the roles of potassium are well known:
- It may influence cardiac activity;
- It allows the circulation of the nervous stimulus;
- It supports contractility;
- It supports the electrolytic balance of the body;
- It supports the renal function of blood filtration.
Recommended Daily Potassium Dose While Pregnant
Most experts advise expecting mothers to try and consume around 4.700 mg of potassium/day. When breastfeeding mothers are concerned, the recommended dose is of 5.100 mg. However, it`s recommended for the pediatrician to decided regarding the daily dose depending on your personal analysis and history.
Potassium deficiency may be manifested by muscle cramps and weakness, heart rhythm and digestive disorders (bloating, constipation abdominal pains), fatigue, etc.
A low amount of potassium in blood leads to a medical condition known as hypokalemia. This affection may occur due to medication consumption, a disease or rarely due to insufficient food intake.
The causes of potassium deficiency include:
- Magnesium deficiency; – Learn more!
- Kidney illnesses (Bartter syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome, Liddle`s syndrome);
- Excessive sweating, diarrhea, prolonged vomiting;
- Diuretic, antibiotic, laxative administration.
When potassium deficiency is mild, the symptoms might be absent. That is why it is essential to go to a specialist if you think you may suffer from such a deficiency. Hypokalemia is diagnosed by assessing the potassium level in the blood. In the light forms of the deficiency, a diet that is rich in this mineral might be advised, and in the most severe forms, the specialist will recommend potassium supplements.
When a medium or severe hypokalemia is involved, there are the most obvious symptoms:
You Feel Tired All the Time
If you feel you are always tired and don`t have enough energy, you may feel like this due to a potassium deficiency. Every cell from your organism needs potassium to function. If you are feeling tired all the time although you get enough rest, lack of potassium might be the reason. Also, stress, lack of sleep or an unhealthy diet may cause chronic fatigue, so don`t hurry to draw the conclusion that a deficiency of potassium may be the reason before talking to a doctor.
You Have Muscle Spasms
This mineral plays a vital role in muscle contraction, which includes heart muscles. Therefore, muscle spasms are signs that outline the lack of this mineral. A serious deficiency of potassium won`t only affect the smooth muscle functioning, but may even lead to the muscle tissue destruction, causing rhabdomyolysis.
You Feel Weak or Dizzy
The levels of potassium might vary during a day, and a high decrease might slow your heartbeat, leading to fainting that is caused by low blood pressure. This isn`t a frequent reaction, and other factors might be triggered, but it`s essential to go to a medical consultation. Numbness, tingling and hotness in the feet and hands are another symptom which you shouldn`t ignore.
A deficiency of potassium is very dangerous for the health of the kidneys, leading to large water losses through the kidneys and leading to frequent urination. A permanent thirst is another consequence of frequent urination that is caused by a deficiency of potassium in the organism.
Hypertension & Palpitations
With a sufficient amount of this mineral, the blood vessels may get damaged, leading to hypertension. Palpitations are among the most important signs of deficiency of potassium in the organism, affecting heart rhythmical contractions and causing accelerated beatings.
You Always Feel Bloated
When a deficiency of this mineral occurs, the organism attempts to regulate the level of sodium and affects the stomach and intestine muscles, which causes cramping, bloating, constipation or abdominal pains.
Scientists have also come to the conclusion that a low level of potassium while expecting a baby may lead to fluid retention. This signs occurs especially during the third trimester of pregnancy. As soon as you identify one or several signs from the ones listed above, try to reach your gynecologist to determine the level of potassium from your blood.
Treatment for Potassium Deficiency
In order to avoid the occurrence of such complications, most specialists recommend a balanced diet rich in potassium. It will be needed to increase the electrolytic level to 2.000 mg/day. However, the most common way to regulate the level of potassium is a proper diet.
Foods Rich in Potassium
- Potatoes: an average portion contains 900 mg of potassium. You may consume more assortments as they all contain potassium, vitamin B6 and C, fiber, iron, which help in the development of your child. You should avoid frying this vegetable, because the caloric level is extremely high. However, you can consume them boiled, cooked or a soup cream. – Visit this web link!
- Sun-dried tomatoes: a cup offers 1.800 mg of potassium. You can also obtain potassium from fresh tomatoes, but for a larger amount of potassium, you can try sun-dried tomatoes. They are low in calories and contain fibers and vitamin C, which helps in strengthening immunity.
- Red beans: a cup is equal with 600 mg of potassium. You can consume boiled red beans, in salad or cooked foods. Also, white, Pinto and lima beans are rich in potassium.
- Dried fruits: a cup contains 1.500 mg of potassium. Dried fruits are perfect for satisfying the craving for something sweet, one of the biggest issues of pregnant women.
- Bananas: it contains 400 mg of potassium. At the same time, they contain plenty of fiber, vitamin B6 and C. Strawberries, bananas, avocado and kiwi are other fruits rich in this mineral.
Potassium & Heart
When in optimal amounts and proper concentrations, potassium can be considered one of the friendliest minerals in relation with the heart. However, potassium isn`t a curative and preventive treatment for cardiovascular illnesses, but it`s an adjuvant. This mineral helps the organism to stay healthy and function correctly and may stimulate the heart to have a better functioning in response to appropriate treatment. So if you consider yourself one of the patients who suffer from these medical conditions, doctors recommend a diet that is rich in this mineral, but only as a general diet advice and not as a stand-alone therapy.
There are studies that proven the general benefits of a diet rich in potassium. It`s already common knowledge that this mineral improves the level of cholesterol, heart rate and blood pressure.
A study performed on a large scale has shown that hypertension could be diminished by up to 8% points by simply supplementing the diet with potassium. The patients who were included in this study received nutritional supplements with potassium and by following regular measurements, systolic blood pressure was diminished.
Although in the study, the subjects received pills with potassium, scientists advise us to try and get this mineral from natural sources. It`s believed that a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables may stimulate blood pressure reduction by up to 10% points in hypertensive patients undergoing correct treatment.
Even though the positive effect of potassium is well known, experts haven`t yet found the mechanism by which the effect is exerted. There are several theories which claim that potassium may reduce the vessels` sensitivity to the action of several compounds, like hormones, which in turn favor vasoconstriction. Reducing constriction and, thus, peripheral vascular resistance, will determine the consequent reduction of tension values. Another theory claims that this mineral doesn`t in fact influence vasoconstriction, but rather directly stimulates vascular relaxation. Still, in the end the conclusion is the most essential as well as irrespective of the mechanism of action, it`s a proven evidence that this mineral may contribute to decreasing blood pressure.
Individuals whose diet is low in potassium have a risk of developing stroke or hypertension that is significantly higher. The risk is 40% – 50% higher in comparison to the general population, data are outlined in a specific research which looked at the effects of the reduction of this mineral in both humans and animals.
A direct connection in terms of cellular and molecular mechanisms between potassium and cholesterol hasn`t yet been found, but clinical experience has shown that lots of cholesterol-lowering are rich in this mineral.
In case that you are one of the patients with increased levels of cholesterol, experts have warned you about the dangers and risks involved in the development of heart disease.
These risks are the same to those of patients presenting risk factors for atherosclerosis:
- Sedentary life;
- Age over 65 years for women and 55 years for men.
For now, it isn`t yet known if the diet rich in potassium may exert a protective effect on myocardial infarction. Still, even if the singular effect of this mineral hasn`t been outlined, it`s known that a diet rich in antioxidants, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, may have beneficial effects in preventing acute myocardial infarctions. A diet with a high content of fibers may also diminish the concentration of cholesterol, and combined with reducing food lipids, the organism may be further protected.
This mineral can be vital especially if the patients experience normal heart rhythm disorders, because it`s the ion which influences heartbeat. In order for the heart to contract evenly and synchronously, it`s required that the mineral is in optimal concentrations, in both extracellular and intracellular space. Rhythm disorders can be controlled with drugs, but they may pose lots of issues, sometimes even be needed surgery for correction. Arrhythmias include supraventricular tachycardia, atrial fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia, atrial flutter, Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome. Patients with arrhythmias are recommended to visit their doctor on a regular basis, regular consultations including in such cases and verifying the concentration of potassium in the organism.
Potassium has a great importance in patients who have congestive heart failure. Some medications administered in the treatment of this illness may increase the elimination of potassium from the organism. This is the case of specific diuretics, which stimulate the elimination of salt and water from the organism, but also our mineral gets eliminated. Their chronic administration may lead to diminished concentration, and even to serious hypokalaemia, which has negative consequences. In such cases, doctors may recommend potassium minerals.
For avoiding this type of complications, diuretics that don`t eliminate this mineral may be tried. Supplements should be taken with caution, as increasing doses might have side effects on the organism of patients who experience renal insufficiency or other kidney issues, as these are organs that are involved in the metabolism as well as elimination of ion, and they also prevent its accumulation in concentrations that are toxic.
The decrease of the body`s potassium concentration is known as hypokalaemia. This condition shows signs only when is serious, with mild cases that are on occasion manifested by temporary increases in cardiac palpitations and tension. Moderate reduction of concentration might lead to myalgia, constipation and muscle weakness. Serious hypokalaemia is generally manifested by tetany, flare paralysis and reflex reduction. The main causes of hypokalaemia are renal and gastrointestinal loss, and insufficient dietary intake.
- Pregnant women who have low levels of potassium always need to consult an expert before starting to take supplements.
- Any drug need to be administered with caution, because a wrong dose of supplements may lead to triggering cardiovascular issues.
- If the level of potassium is low, you should avoid excessive physical activities, because they may harmful for your pregnancy.