Kidney health — quick facts and nutritional support

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Quick facts on why kidney health is important

  • Roughly 12% of Europan adults live with some degree of chronic kidney disease (CKD), which oftentimes goes undetected until it reaches an advanced stage. 
  • Worldwide, an estimated 1 million people die each year from untreated kidney failure. (1)
  • The kidneys support many critical functions, including filtering waste products out of the blood, regulating fluids and blood pressure, and forming urine. 
  • Proper bladder function is crucial in removing toxins and waste from your body completely. 
  • Kidney health depends on maintaining already-healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels. These are also important for other health reasons.

Nutrients that promotes kidney health

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  • Vitamin D: The kidneys play a role in converting vitamin D to its active form, and kidney disease can lead to vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D may also exert a protective effect on the kidneys. Both clinical and observational studies suggest the active form of vitamin D may improve multiple parameters of kidney function in patients with chronic kidney disease. 

  • CoQ10: Since the kidneys are high-energy requirement organs like the heart, liver and brain, getting enough CoQ10 can help support kidney health. CoQ10 may also benefit kidney health is by helping to keep blood pressure levels healthy. 

  • Pyridoxal 5’-Phosphate is a metabolite of pyridoxamine, a form of vitamin B6 that is a potent inhibitor of advanced glycation end product (AGE) formation, which is one of the features of diabetic kidney disease. Pyridoxal 5’-Phosphate is shown to support a healthy kidney function nervous system and cardiovascular function, immune and eye health, and more. (2-4) 

  • L-Carnitine: Patients undergoing kidney dialysis can develop a functional carnitine deficiency known as dialysis-related carnitine disorderThe National Kidney Foundation recommends treatment of dialysis-related carnitine disorder symptoms with intravenous L-carnitine at 20 mg/kg of total body weight after each dialysis procedure. (5)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil have been shown to significantly reduce blood pressure (a risk factor for CKD) in several clinical trials on patients with hypertension (6).  Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation at a dose of 4 g daily reduced blood pressure in patients with CKD in a double-blind trial (7).  Other evidence has shown that omega-3 fatty acids could reduce proteinuria in patients with CKD, and reduce inflammation and triglycerides in dialysis patients. Eating more oily fish with a plant-based diet low in saturated fats may benefit patients who have CKD or those at risk of developing it (8). A study of over 3000 individuals showed that among those with greater adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet, greater long-term fish consumption was associated with improved kidney function (9).

  • Prebiotics & Probiotics: Improving the balance of bacteria and microorganisms in the digestive tract has shown promise in preventing formation and assisting removal of uremic toxins from the blood. Because these toxins negatively affect kidney function, they are implicated in kidney damage in CKD (10-14). 

  • N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is a sulfur-containing compound that helps counteract the damaging effects of heavy metal toxicity (Patrick 2006; De la Fuente 2011).  In animal models, NAC enhanced the renal excretion of chromium and lead, and lowered kidney concentrations of mercury (15). 

  • Magnesium: High blood pressure can considerably compromise kidney health (16), and magnesium has been shown to reduce blood pressure at intake levels of 500–1000 mg daily (17). Moreover, magnesium improves the performance of blood pressure-lowering drugs and may improve the function of the important lining of blood vessels, the endothelium (17,18;19). Magnesium deficiency is associated with diabetes and metabolic syndrome, both of which are risk factors for kidney disease (20-25). In addition, magnesium-potassium citrate has been studied as a urinary alkalinizer to prevent renal stone formation (26). 

  • Vitamin E: Vitamin E supplementation, in combination with pravastatin (Pravachol) and a homocysteine-lowering combination of the B vitamins folic acid, B6, and B12, improved measures of cardiovascular health and reduced albumin loss from the kidneys compared with a control group (27).

  • Curcumin: The more free curcuminoids the body absorbs, the better. Curcuminoid are the compounds in curcumin that can help inhibit inflammation to support joint and vital organ health. (28,29)

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  1. https://www.healio.com/news/nephrology/20180227/1-in-10-people-worldwide-have-ckd-but-many-governm
  2. Accessed June 6. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-B6
  3. Kidney Int Suppl. 1997;62:S56-9.
  4. Exp Eye Res. 2019;178:255-262.
  5. Eknoyan G, Latos DL, Lindberg J, National Kidney Foundation Carnitine Consensus Conference. Practice recommendations for the use of L-carnitine in dialysis-related carnitine disorder. National Kidney Foundation Carnitine Consensus Conference. Am J Kidney Dis. 2003;41(4):868–76.
  6. Hartweg J, Farmer AJ, Holman RR, and Neil HAW. Meta-analysis of the effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on haematological and thrombogenic factors in type 2 diabetes. Diabetologia. 2007;50(2):250–8
  7. Geleijnse JM, Giltay EJ, Grobbee DE, Donders ART, and Kok FJ. Blood pressure response to fish oil supplementation: metaregression analysis of randomized trials. J. Hypertens. 2002;20(8):1493–9
  8. Mori TA, Burke V, Puddey I, et al. The effects of [omega]3 fatty acids and coenzyme Q10 on blood pressure and heart rate in chronic kidney disease: a randomized controlled trial. J. Hypertens. 2009;27(9):1863–72
  9. Huang X, Lindholm B, Stenvinkel P, Carrero JJ. Dietary fat modification in patients with chronic kidney disease: n-3 fatty acids and beyond. Journal of nephrology. Nov-Dec 2013;26(6):960-974.
  10. Montemurno E, Cosola C, Dalfino G, Daidone G, De Angelis M, Gobbetti M, Gesualdo L. What Would You Like to Eat, Mr CKD Microbiota? A Mediterranean Diet, please! Kidney & blood pressure research. Jul 29 2014;39(2-3):114-123.
  11. Ramezani A, Raj DS. The gut microbiome, kidney disease, and targeted interventions. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : JASN. Apr 2014;25(4):657-670.
  12. Evenepoel P, Meijers BK, Bammens BR, Verbeke K. Uremic toxins originating from colonic microbial metabolism. Kidney international. Supplement. Dec 2009(114):S12-19.
  13. Vitetta L, Linnane AW, Gobe GC. From the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) to the kidneys: live bacterial cultures (probiotics) mediating reductions of uremic toxin levels via free radical signaling. Toxins. Nov 2013;5(11):2042-2057.
  14. Vitetta L, Gobe G. Uremia and chronic kidney disease: the role of the gut microflora and therapies with pro- and prebiotics. Molecular nutrition & food research. May 2013;57(5):824-832.
  15. Samuni Y, Goldstein S, Dean OM, and Berk M. The chemistry and biological activities of N-acetylcysteine. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013;1830(8):4117–29
  16. Rasu RS, Crawford T, Manley HJ, Balkrishnan R. Treatment of hypertension and diabetes mellitus in patients with chronic kidney disease: a review. Expert opinion on pharmacotherapy. Oct 2007;8(15):2543-2551.
  17. Houston M. The role of magnesium in hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Journal of clinical hypertension (Greenwich, Conn.). Nov 2011;13(11):843-847.
  18. Barbagallo M, Dominguez LJ, Galioto A, Pineo A, Belvedere M. Oral magnesium supplementation improves vascular function in elderly diabetic patients. Magnesium research : official organ of the International Society for the Development of Research on Magnesium. Sep 2010;23(3):131-137.
  19. Kisters K. Oral magnesium supplementation improves borderline hypertension. Magnesium research : official organ of the International Society for the Development of Research on Magnesium. Mar 2011;24(1):17; author reply 18.
  20. Kurella M, Lo JC, Chertow GM. Metabolic syndrome and the risk for chronic kidney disease among nondiabetic adults. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology : JASN. Jul 2005;16(7):2134-2140.
  21. Kabir MS, Dutta PK, Islam MN, Hasan MJ, Mondol G. Prevalence of risk factors of chronic kidney disease in adults. Mymensingh medical journal : MMJ. Oct 2012;21(4):605-610.
  22. Chaudhary DP, Sharma R, Bansal DD. Implications of magnesium deficiency in type 2 diabetes: a review. Biological trace element research. May 2010;134(2):119-129.
  23. Munekage E, Takezaki Y, Hanazaki K. [Shortage and metabolic disturbance of magnesium in diabetic patients and significance of magnesium replacement therapy]. Clinical calcium. Aug 2012;22(8):1235-1242.
  24. Dong JY, Xun P, He K, Qin LQ. Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Diabetes care. Sep 2011;34(9):2116-2122.
  25. Yuzbashian E, Asghari G, Mirmiran P, Hosseini FS, Azizi F. Associations of dietary macronutrients with glomerular filtration rate and kidney dysfunction: Tehran lipid and glucose study. Journal of nephrology. Jun 5 2014.
  26. Jaipakdee S, Prasongwatana V, Premgamone A, Reungjui S, Tosukhowong P, Tungsanga K, . . . Sriboonlue P. The effects of potassium and magnesium supplementations on urinary risk factors of renal stone patients. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand = Chotmaihet thangphaet. Mar 2004;87(3):255-263.
  27. Veringa SJE, Nanayakkara PWB, van Ittersum FJ. Effect of a treatment strategy consisting of pravastatin, vitamin E, and homocysteine lowering on arterial compliance and distensibility in patients with mild-to-moderate chronic kidney disease. Clin. Nephrol. 2012;78(4):263–72
  28. J Altern Complement Med. 2003;9(1):161-8. 
  29. Adv Biomed Res. 2018;7:38.