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Kidney Care Supplements: Are These Effective and Safe?

Kidney Care Supplements: Are These Effective and Safe?

People often joke about selling a kidney when they want to buy something expensive. After all, we have two of them, right? While it is true that we can survive with a single kidney, two is definitely better than one. Humor aside, kidneys are special and important organs, therefore, having a healthy set is priceless. Should you invest in kidney care supplements? Are these effective and safe?

Why is kidney health important?

kidney care supplements

Our kidneys are unique and vital organs. These two organs are located toward the back of the abdominal cavity, but generally we can’t see or feel them. What do they do? A kidney’s job is to filter blood and create urine. Additionally, it is responsible for removing waste and toxins and also helps regulate our blood pressure.

Just like the heart, our kidneys are working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for our entire lives. In fact, a healthy set of kidneys filters about 140 liters of blood each day. This is important to prevent build-up of waste products from normal metabolic processes. In addition, the kidneys remove excess water to prevent edema and bloating.

However, because our kidneys are constantly working, they can experience a lot of wear and tear. Because they also filter large volumes of blood, the kidneys are exposed to all the drugs and chemicals that are dissolved in it. When the kidneys get damaged, the tubules within the kidney allow larger particles to pass through. Normally, blood cells, protein, and sugars stay in the blood, but damaged kidneys allow these materials to pass into the urine. Sudden kidney damage is known as acute kidney injury (AKI) while prolonged damage is chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Some signs and symptoms of kidney disease include:

  • Proteinuria (protein in the urine)
  • Hematuria (blood in the urine)
  • Glycosuria (glucose in the urine)
  • Fatigue
  • Poor blood pressure control
  • Pain in the mid or lower back
  • Fever
  • Anemia

Should I use kidney care supplements?

As mentioned above, our kidneys are exposed to many chemicals found in food and drugs that we take in. Almost all drugs are metabolized and excreted either through hepatic (liver) or renal (kidney) routes. The liver is responsible for most of the metabolism (or breakdown) while the kidneys are responsible for most of the excretion or removal of the byproducts. While the kidneys can handle this job, high doses of any drug can be taxing and cause damage due to accumulation.

Our kidneys do not require specific kidney care supplements. In fact, the less medications you take, the less work your kidneys need to do. Because kidneys are highly vascularized organs, maintaining a heart-healthy diet with cardio exercises can improve overall health. Additionally, keeping your blood pressure and blood sugar under control will reduce the strain on your kidneys.

The problem with most herbal supplements is that they are not approved by the FDA to treat any specific illness. Additionally, most do not disclose the ingredients or actual amount of each ingredient. This makes it difficult to gauge if you are underdosing or overdosing on a particular substance.

Kidney care supplements often include words like “natural” and “safe”, but those are often marketing ploys that can be misleading. Only take supplements if your doctor or nephrologist has approved of it.

Ingredients to avoidis salt worse than sugar

For people with two healthy kidneys, your body will be able to handle almost anything that is thrown into it. A single high dose of a medication will not destroy your kidneys.

However, weeks, months, and years of using certain medications can take its toll. This is why it is important for you to get regular check-ups and evaluations with your doctor. He or she will adjust your medication doses and regimens based on how well they are working.

For patients that have AKI, CKD, or have undergone a kidney transplant, you have to be more careful with what you eat and drink. This is even more important if you also have other conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Generally, you need to avoid high sodium and potassium-containing substances.

People who have a history of kidney stones should drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid high salt and mineral-rich foods. Citrus juice contains citrate which can help prevent the formation of stones.

However, avoid taking megadoses of vitamin C supplements as studies have shown that it can increase the risk of kidney stones, especially in those with previous history. Avoid food and supplements that contain oxalates, as these promote stone formation.

Food and ingredients to avoid or use with precaution:

  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Potatoes and root vegetables
  • Spinach and broccoli
  • Ginseng
  • Dandelion
  • Evening primrose
  • Turmeric
  • Milk thistle
  • Ampalaya (bitter melon)
  • Coriander (wansoy, cilantro)
  • Parsley
  • Yohimbine
  • Creatine
  • Licorice root
  • Uva ursi
  • Alcohol

Key takeaways

In summary, kidney care supplements are not necessary for healthy kidneys. They can be especially dangerous for people who already have kidney disease. Aside from supplements, certain food and herbs can also be bad for patients with renal disease. Talk to your doctor or a pharmacist for more information on medications that can affect your kidneys.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Chronic kidney disease and use of dietary supplements https://www.pharmacist.com/article/chronic-kidney-disease-and-use-dietary-supplements Accessed March 31, 2021

Can taking a lot of supplements really damage the kidneys? https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/can-taking-a-lot-of-supplements-really-damage-the-kidneys Accessed March 31, 2021

Herbal Supplements and Kidney Disease https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/herbalsupp Accessed March 31, 2021

8 Key Things to Know Before Taking Supplements https://www.kidney.org/content/8-key-things-know-taking-supplements-0 Accessed March 31, 2021

Acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease: from the laboratory to the clinic https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5475438/ Accessed March 31, 2021

Your Kidneys & How They Work https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/kidneys-how-they-work Accessed March 31, 2021

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Medically reviewed by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD
Written by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD
Updated 2 weeks ago
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