Kidneys are bean-shaped organs present behind the abdominal cavity in the human body. These play a vital role in the filtration and excretory functions of the body. In humans, the left kidney lies at vertebral level T12 and L3 and the right kidney sits below the diaphragm, slightly lower than the left due to asymmetry caused by the position of the liver. Kidneys are complex waste removal systems which sort waste from the body while purifying the blood. Every day, kidneys process around 200 liters of blood and make urine from surplus fluid and unwanted chemicals in the blood. This urine passes out of the body through a narrow tube called urethra.
How to maintain healthy kidneys
Kidneys are important organs that filter blood and keep the body chemically balanced. Hence, taking good care and eating a balanced diet to keep kidneys healthy is of utmost importance. The human body requires various vitamins for kidneys to help them perform their functions. Vitamin D helps in the renal reabsorption, which is the removal of water and solutes from pre-urine, and returning them to circulating blood. Another one of the important vitamins for kidneys is B complex, which are water-soluble vitamins and good for renal health. Drinking plenty of water is the easiest way to keep kidneys healthy, as this helps them perform the most important function of removing toxins. Exercising, limited intake of alcohol and no smoking is also recommended for further care of kidneys.
Due to the various crucial functions the kidneys perform and the toxins they encounter, kidneys are prone to various conditions or ailments. In most of these conditions, kidneys are unable to remove or filter waste. These conditions include
- Kidney stones
- Chronic kidney disease
- Kidney failure
- Acute nephritis
- Polycystic kidney diseases
Under such circumstances, it becomes important to supplement your daily diet with certain beneficial vitamins for kidneys.
Vitamins for people with kidneys conditions
People with various kidney conditions require different vitamins for kidneys. This is because kidney diseases may produce toxins which interfere with the absorption of certain vitamins, leading to excessive accumulation of those vitamins. Medications can also change the way the body uses certain vitamins, hence, the requirement of those vitamins may change. Acute kidney diseases sometimes make the body incapable of producing certain vitamins, for example, vitamin D, while some are lost during the dialysis process.
Are vitamins useful or harmful to renal diseases?
While supplementing your diet with vitamins for kidneys is required in most renal conditions, there are some vitamins which can contribute to further damage to the kidneys.
- While vitamin A is essential to maintain vision and skin health, it is not dialyzed off in case of renal patients, thereby creating a tendency to be present in excess in the body. Many multivitamins have a high amount of vitamin A. Hence, renal patients should refrain from taking vitamin A supplements without the doctor’s recommendation.
- Vitamin E, which plays a vital role in maintaining immune, is often retained by renal patients, thereby eliminating any need for a supplement. Most often, vitamin E is not dialyzed from the system and is retained by the dialysis patient.
- B complex vitamins help in preventing anemia by producing red blood cells. Other B vitamins like riboflavin (vitamin B2) and thiamine (vitamin B1) change food into energy which can be used by the body. Vitamin B6 helps the body to produce protein, which is a building block in the human body. Vitamin B12 helps the body to make new cells and maintains nerve cells. Malfunctioning of kidneys may lead to less absorption of vitamin B12 and other B vitamins causing deficiency. Hence, doctors may prescribe supplement for vitamin B complex.
- Healthy kidneys are rich with vitamin D and they play an important role in turning it into its active form. Once kidneys fail, they become incapable of activating vitamin D, leading to no control on calcium and phosphorous levels in the blood. Hence, significant issues may result in a surplus of calcium in the blood. These deposits can also cause a heart attack. Under these circumstances, renal patients are prescribed activated vitamin D.
- Vitamin C plays a major role in absorbing iron, and form and repair red blood cells. It also helps to maintain healthy gums and speeds up healing of wounds. It also prevents your body from catching a cold. Renal patients may be advised vitamin C supplements by doctors. However, excessive intake may lead to oxalate deposits in bone and soft tissues.
Vitamin requirement differs from person to person and also patient to patient. Remedies not suggested by doctors should be avoided by patients with acute kidney disease and patients on dialysis, since there may be complications or other side effects. Remember to always consult a doctor or healthcare provider before taking vitamin supplements.