I have a client on dialysis who recently started having leg cramps that would wake him up at night.  Prior to dialysis, his potassium levels were high.  Now that he is on dialysis, his potassium levels are low.

Some symptoms of low potassium in mild cases include: constipation, heat palpitations, extreme tiredness, muscle weakness and spasms, tingling and numbness. (1)

The dialysis center told him to eat more bananas because they are high in potassium.  He particularly started eating bananas close to bedtime.  This is a good way to obtain more potassium.  It may work for some, but it may not work for others due to a few possible reasons:

  • The high sugar content of bananas may spark an increase in energy, which is not what you want when trying to go to sleep
  • The high sugar content of bananas may need to be avoided for those trying to manage high blood sugar
  • Food sensitivity to bananas or trouble digesting them

I want to provide a few other ideas:

  • Other high potassium foods such as oranges and orange juice, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, apricots and their juice, grapefruit and its juice, cooked spinach and leafy greens in general, cooked broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms, pumpkins. (2)
  • Potassium supplementation – Perhaps the reason you started to have kidney damage in the first place was due to long-standing uncontrolled or fluctuating high blood pressure.  If this is still the case even though you are on dialysis, potassium supplementation may not only keep away those night cramps, but may also help lower your blood pressure.  If you are taking a lot of trips, this may also be a great way to make sure you are getting enough potassium in absence of being able to find foods that you know will have the potassium you need.  Keep your doctor informed about this, work with them to determine an adequate dosage, and have them monitor your potassium levels to make sure you are staying in a normal range.  You do not want high potassium levels either.

Generally, when you can regularly consume more potassium than sodium, you have a chance at lowering your blood pressure.  You can do this by lowering your salt intake and eating mostly fresh produce, which typically have a higher potassium to sodium ratio.

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References:

  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17740-low-potassium-levels-in-your-blood-hypokalemia#symptoms-and-causes
  2. https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-rich-in-potassium