Potassium and Peritoneal Dialysis

Provided by DaVita® Dietitians

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis from a physician.

Potassium is a mineral needed to keep the nerves, muscles, and heart working well. Low or high potassium can cause irregular heartbeats and may cause the heart to stop beating. That’s why it’s vital for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) who are on dialysis keep potassium levels in a normal range. People on peritoneal dialysis (PD) are usually encouraged to eat more potassium-rich foods than people dialyzing with traditional in-center hemodialysis. PD is performed daily and as a result, the body does not have as much potassium buildup.

High-potassium foods and PD

Potassium is found in many foods, including fruits, vegetables, meat, milk, yogurt, chocolate, nuts, seeds and beans. Here are some fruits and vegetables that may be recommended by your dietitian if your potassium is running low. (Serving sizes will vary, because every patient’s kidney diet prescription is different.)

High-potassium fruits

Serving size

Avocado

1/2

Banana

1 medium

Cantaloupe

1 cup, cubed

Dates

5

Honeydew melon

1 slice/1 cup

Kiwi

1 large

Mango

1 whole or 1 cup

Nectarine

1 medium

Orange

1 medium

Orange juice

1/2 cup (4 ounces)

Papaya

1/2 or 1/2 cup

Persimmon

1 whole

Prune juice

1/2 cup (4 ounces)

Prunes

5 large

Raisins

3 tablespoons

High-potassium vegetables

Serving size

Artichokes

1 whole

Beets

1/2 cup

Beet greens, cooked

1/2 cup

Carrot juice

1/2 cup

Kohlrabi

1/2 cup

Potatoes

1 medium or 1/2 cup

Rutabagas

1/2 cup

Spinach, cooked

1/2 cup

Succotash

1/2 cup

Sweet potato

1 medium

Tomato

1 medium

Tomato juice (low-salt)

1/2 cup

Tomato paste/sauce (no added salt)

1/2 cup

Winter squash

1/2 cup

Healthy potassium levels

Knowing your potassium level is an important step to maintaining good health on PD. You’ll have routine lab tests that will show what your potassium level is.

Low range = less than 3.5 mg/dL

Safe range = 3.5 to 5.5 mg/dL

Unsafe range = 5.6 to 6.0 mg/dL

Dangerous range = more than 6.0 mg/dL

Low-potassium symptoms

It’s important for PD patients to get enough potassium to sustain their health and muscle function. Symptoms of low potassium, also known as hypokalemia, may include:

  • Weakness
  • Cramping in arm or leg muscles
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Constipation
  • Heart palpitations
  • Depression or confusion

If you experience any of the symptoms above, talk to your healthcare and if they are caused by hypokalemia, your dietitian will show you ways to include more potassium-rich foods into your kidney diet.

Summary

Potassium’s most important job is to keep the heart and other muscles working. When you’re on PD you will likely dialyze every day, deeming it necessary to eat high-potassium foods to maintain normal potassium levels. Following a PD diet and working with your kidney healthcare team can help you maintain a better quality of life on dialysis.

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