CKD Nutrition: Potassium, Phosphorous, and Sodium

CKD Nutrition: Potassium, Phosphorous, and Sodium

Many children with kidney failure have poor growth and weight gain so they may need to be on a specific individualized diet. The earlier the age at which kidney disease occurs, the more likely growth will be affected. When the kidneys are not working well, they may not be able to get rid of waste products from foods. Also, children on peritoneal dialysis may not have a good appetite because the extra fluid in the belly can make them feel full. Rowan's dietitian, nurses, and doctors watch for signs of problems from his monthly bloodwork and suggest diet changes and restrictions for Rowan as needed.
The nutrients most often affected by kidney disease are sodium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, calories, and fluid. Rowan gets two different formulas mixed with breast milk that help increase calories and protein in his diet to help him gain weight. He also takes supplements and medications to replace the vitamins and minerals lost during dialysis.
Let's take a deeper dive into potassium, phosphorous, and sodium:


Potassium is a mineral that plays a role in keeping your heartbeat regular and your muscles working right. Healthy kidneys keep the right amount of potassium in your body. When your kidneys are not healthy, you need to limit certain foods that can increase the potassium in your blood to a dangerous level. If your potassium becomes too high, it can cause an irregular heartbeat or a heart attack. Serving size is very important when it comes to nutrition. Almost all foods have some potassium, and a large amount of low-potassium food can turn into a high-potassium food. Some common high-potassium foods are bananas, oranges, avocados, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, black beans, chocolate, granola, and peanut butter.


Phosphorus is a mineral found in your bones. Along with calcium, phosphorus helps build strong, healthy bones, and keeps other parts of your body healthy. Healthy kidneys remove extra phosphorus in your blood. When you have kidney disease, your kidneys cannot remove phosphorus well. High phosphorus levels can pull calcium out of your bones, making them weak. High phosphorus levels also lead to dangerous calcium deposits in the blood vessels, lungs, eyes, and heart. Over time this can lead to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke or death. Some common high phosphorous foods are dairy products, peanut butter, black beans, chickpeas, whole grain products, beer, chocolate drinks, and dark cola drinks.


Sodium is a mineral that helps balance how much fluid your body keeps. Sodium also helps regulate nerve and muscle function. Healthy kidneys get rid of too much sodium in your body, but when kidneys do not work well, sodium and fluid can build up. This can cause swelling, high blood pressure, or shortness of breath. Some common high-sodium foods are table salt, soy sauce, teriyaki, sauce, most canned foods, most frozen dinners, ham, bacon, sausage, chips, and crackers.

* Educational images from National Kidney Foundation website

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