The 8 Best Supplements for Kidney Health

The 8 Best Supplements for Kidney Health

Kidneys filter waste and balance fluids in the body. Supporting kidney health is crucial for maintaining overall well-being, and supplements may be able to help. By providing essential nutrients, some supplements can enhance kidney function and reduce the risk of nutritional deficiencies.

That may be especially true for people with kidney disease, who often experience nutrient deficiencies due to reduced kidney function, dietary restrictions, and the effects of medications. Common deficiencies among people with kidney issues include vitamin D, iron, calcium, and B vitamins. Addressing these deficiencies through supplements may help support kidney function and overall health.

Understanding the benefits—and risks—of using supplements for kidney health is key to making informed decisions. Here’s what to know about the supplements that might be best for supporting your kidneys.

Vitamin D is crucial for maintaining bone health and reducing inflammation. For people with kidney disease, vitamin D deficiency is common due to the kidneys’ reduced ability to convert the vitamin into its active form. Supplementing with vitamin D can help manage bone disorders and prevent cardiovascular complications.

Iron is vital for producing red blood cells and preventing anemia, a common issue in people with kidney disease where you don’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Supplementing with iron may help alleviate symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Paleness
  • Depression
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

Iron supplements typically come in the form of a pill. However, some people may have the iron injected into a vein. This includes people receiving dialysis, a treatment that filters waste and water from your blood if your kidneys no longer can. In this case, a dose of iron is put into the blood during the procedure. Your provider can determine which delivery method is best.

Calcium is essential for bone health and proper muscle function. People with kidney disease may need calcium supplements to prevent bone loss and maintain heart health. However, excess calcium can lead to vascular calcification (when calcium builds up in the blood vessels), so it’s important to balance calcium intake.

B vitamins—particularly B6, B12, and folic acid—play a role in energy production. Not getting enough of the vitamins can lead to anemia.

Kidney disease can lead to B vitamin deficiencies due to impaired kidney function and dietary restrictions. Supplementing with B vitamins can help prevent the deficiencies and the anemia they can cause.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of healthy fat with anti-inflammatory properties. As such, omega-3 fatty acids can benefit many bodily functions and organs, including the kidneys. The fats can help lower the risk of chronic kidney disease and reduce the progression of kidney disease.

They also support heart health, which is particularly important for people with compromised kidney function.

Magnesium is crucial for muscle and nerve function and cardiovascular health. Due to dietary restrictions and medication interactions, magnesium deficiency is common in people with kidney disease. That means supplementing with magnesium may help you prevent the mineral deficiency.

Lower magnesium levels have been linked to a progression to end-stage kidney disease, which is the last stage of kidney disease when the organs can no longer perform their duties. So making sure your magnesium levels are normal through supplementation can potentially prevent or delay disease progression.

Even people without kidney disease can benefit from supplementing with magnesium. Lower magnesium levels are associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney disease, so taking in the proper amount of magnesium can help avoid the development of kidney disease.

Probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that reside in the gut, play a significant role in supporting kidney health. They help maintain a balanced gut microbiome, which is crucial for overall health and immune function. For people with kidney disease, probiotics can be particularly beneficial. They aid in reducing uremic toxins, which are substances that accumulate in the blood when the kidneys aren’t functioning properly.

Additionally, probiotics can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress (the imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body), which are common issues in chronic kidney disease.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that supports immune function, collagen production, and tissue repair. For kidney health, the vitamin’s antioxidant properties are particularly valuable, as they help neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress—a contributing factor to kidney damage.

Just make sure to consult with your healthcare provider about how much of the supplement to take. While moderate supplementation may be beneficial, high doses of vitamin C can lead to a buildup of oxalate (a natural substance in many foods) that can cause kidney stones. Among people with kidney disease, oxalate buildup can also result in oxalate deposits in bones and soft tissues, causing pain and other complications over time.

If you have kidney disease, it’s important to be cautious with certain vitamins and minerals, as they can accumulate in the body and cause harm. Specifically, vitamins A, E, and K are fat-soluble and more likely to build up, potentially leading to serious health issues such as dizziness, nausea, and even death if taken in excess. These vitamins should only be taken under your healthcare provider’s supervision.

You should also probably avoid herbal supplements if you have kidney disease. Herbal supplements are supplements that contain one or more herb. Popular herbal supplements include turmeric, mugwort, and evening primrose. There is limited information about the effectiveness of many herbal supplements, specifically for people with kidney disease.

Some herbal supplements contain minerals like potassium and phosphors that people with kidney disease may need to limit.

Even those without kidney disease should use herbal supplements with caution since some of products have aristolochic acid—a type of acid found in plants—which is harmful to kidneys.

The kidneys play a vital role in filtering and metabolizing substances from the body, making it essential to choose supplements wisely and use them correctly.

Before starting any new supplement, it’s essential to talk with a healthcare provider. They can provide personalized advice based on your health status, kidney function, and any medications you may be taking.

When looking for a supplement, you’ll want to choose one of high quality. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate supplements. To ensure the supplement you purchase was properly manufactured and doesn’t have contaminants, look for a product that has been third-party tested for purity and potency. You might see a label from an organization like, NSF International, or U.S. Pharmacopeia.

If you don’t take supplements as your healthcare provider instructed, there can be consequences. Potential impacts of supplements on kidney health include:

  • Increased workload of the kidneys: Supplements, particularly in high doses, can force the kidneys to work harder. This added strain can exacerbate existing kidney conditions or contribute to the development of new issues.
  • Risk of toxicity: Some supplements contain ingredients that can be toxic to the kidneys in large amounts or with prolonged use.
  • Potential for interactions: Supplements can interact with medications used to manage kidney disease, leading to reduced efficacy or increased side effects.

While supplements can play a role in supporting kidney health, there are numerous other strategies you can adopt to enhance kidney function and overall well-being. Here are some key approaches to maintaining and improving kidney health:

  • Maintain a balanced diet: A nutritious diet is fundamental to kidney health. This may include eating a range of colorful vegetables and eating whole grains.
  • Manage blood pressure: High blood pressure (hypertension) is a leading cause of kidney disease. Protect your kidneys by keeping your blood pressure within a healthy range (typically below 120/80 mm Hg). Regular exercise, a low-sodium diet, and prescribed medications can help.
  • Manage blood sugar levels: Diabetes is another leading cause of kidney disease. Keeping blood sugar within a normal range can help you prevent or manage diabetes. Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations on diet, exercise, and medication to keep blood sugar in check.
  • Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity supports overall health and can help manage weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, cycling, or swimming, on most days of the week.
  • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can damage the kidneys and exacerbate existing kidney problems. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake can significantly reduce the risk of kidney disease.
  • Keep up with regular health screenings: Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help detect kidney problems early. For instance, blood and urine tests can assess kidney function.
  • Take all medicines as prescribed: Be careful with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Advil (ibuprofen), as they can damage kidneys if not taken correctly.
  • Maintain your optimal weight: Obesity can increase the risk of developing kidney disease. Maintaining the weight you and your healthcare provider discussed can reduce this risk and support overall kidney function.
  • Manage stress: Chronic stress can negatively impact blood pressure and overall health, including kidney function. Techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and deep-breathing exercises can help manage stress effectively.

By providing essential nutrients, some supplements may help enhance kidney function and reduce the risk of vitamin or mineral deficiencies that people with kidney disease are at greater risk for. Vitamin D, iron, B vitamins, and magnesium are a few supplements that can help kidney health.

However, it’s important to approach supplementation with caution. Since the kidneys are responsible for filtering and excreting substances from the body, the use of supplements carries potential risks, especially if taken in excessive amounts or without proper guidance.

While supplements may play a role in supporting kidney health, they are just one part of a comprehensive approach. Maintaining a balanced diet, managing blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and exercising regularly are some other ways to preserve kidney function.

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