If your potassium level was too high on your last blood test, it is important for you to learn how to lower potassium levels. Potassium plays an important part in our digestion, metabolism, balancing of chemical and electrical processes and regulation of the tissues of our muscle. A hormone called aldosterone regulates the ability of the kidney to remove excess potassium from the body. Lack of this hormone can result in hyperkalemia which results in the increase of body potassium. The intake of too much potassium when the kidneys are not functioning well, and even of some medications, can cause hyperkalemia. Highly elevated levels of potassium can lead to cardiac arrest and death, so it is important to lower potassium levels even if they are slightly elevated.
- Check with your doctor to see if any of the medications you are taking could be the cause of your elevated potassium level. There are several medications that can cause potassium levels to increase, such as potassium-sparing agents, ACE inhibitors, NSAIDs (ibuprofen), anti-infective agents, anticoagulants, digitalis, beta-blockers, high blood pressure medications and potassium supplements.
- Eating a low potassium diet can help reduce the potassium levels in your blood. Learning what foods are high in potassium and lowering your intake of them or eliminating them can help lower potassium levels. Some of these foods that are usually eliminated are chocolate, molasses, nuts and nut butter. Other high potassium foods that should be limited are: bran, milk, yogurt and seeds.
- Eat foods that have less than 200 mg of potassium in a half-cup serving. Fruits that are lower in potassium include blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, pears, peaches, pineapple, plums, watermelon and grapes. Vegetables low in potassium include cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, peppers, corn, celery, okra, cucumbers, onions, summer squash, kale, eggplant and cooked carrots. Single servings of rice, pasta and deserts that are not made with chocolate, high-potassium fruits or nuts are also low in potassium.
- Some fruits and vegetables need to be restricted because of high potassium content. Fruits that are high in potassium and should be eaten in restricted amounts are: avocados, apricots, cantaloupe, bananas, pomegranates, citrus fruits, dried fruits and raisins. Vegetables high in potassium that should be restricted are: beets, broccoli, beans, raw carrots, tomatoes, winter squash and sweet and white potatoes. Juices from those fruits and vegetables will also be high in potassium.
- Consult your doctor and a nutritionist while reducing potassium intake. It is important to have potassium levels checked frequently by your doctor because potassium levels that are too low can result in hypokalemia. Check with a nutritionist to make sure you are getting enough nutrients or if you need a nutritional supplement.