The kidneys are two bean-shaped, fist-sized organs on the left and right of your body, directly below your ribcage area. And although they might look kind of funny, the kidneys’ purposes are crucial.
Here’s what your kidneys do:
- Move wastes, acid and excess fluid out of the body
- Maintain a healthy balance of water, vitamins and minerals in the blood
- Create hormones that help make red blood cells, maintain bone health, and control blood pressure
Healthy kidneys have no problem filtering your blood. However, kidney issues can lead to serious problems in the body. And some kidney conditions are linked to a lack of specific vitamins.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), eating the right foods and staying away from other foods might help prevent or delay chronic kidney disease issues.
With that in mind, here are the best vitamins for kidney health.
1. Vitamin D
You can get vitamin D from:
- Sunlight exposure
- Food sources
- Vitamin D supplements
Once your body takes in vitamin D, the kidneys convert the vitamin into an active form that your body can use. In other words, your kidneys need to be working normally for your body to use vitamin D.
Low vitamin D levels have been found in those with chronic kidney disease, possibly because the kidneys aren’t converting vitamin D as efficiently.
So, vitamin D is one of the absolute best vitamins for kidney health. And since about 42 percent of Americans are deficient, it’s important to know your vitamin D levels and pay attention to your intake.
2. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is essential for the proper function of many organs, including the kidneys.
Vitamin B6 works with vitamin B12 and folic acid to create proteins that your body uses to make cells. These vitamins prevent anemia, which means the body isn’t making enough red blood cells. Without enough red blood cells, those cells can’t sufficiently move oxygen to the kidneys and other parts of your body.
3. Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
Vitamin B1 helps your body change carbohydrates into glucose that your cells can use for energy. Like the other B vitamins, it also helps your body metabolize proteins and fats and supports your nervous system.
A study at the University of Warwick found that type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients have vitamin B1 levels 75 percent less than people without diabetes. Also, high doses of vitamin B1 might even decrease kidney disease in those with type 2 diabetes.
4. Vitamin B12
You’ve probably realized by now that B vitamins are a common theme here. These vitamins are crucial for creating new cells, which are involved in processes that keep the kidneys (and other organs) healthy.
So, vitamin B12 is the next essential B vitamin. Like the other B vitamins, vitamin B12 helps nourish the kidneys to help them work most efficiently.
5. Folate (Vitamin B9)
Folate works with vitamin B12 to help the body create red blood cells and maintain healthy cell function. There is some evidence that folic acid supplementation might decrease the risk of chronic kidney disease progression.
According to DaVita Kidney Care, folate supplements can mask the signs of vitamin B12 deficiency, so it’s best to also supplement with vitamin B12 or get levels checked.
6. Vitamin C
Lastly, vitamin C is an essential vitamin for overall health, including the kidneys. It helps prevent infections and help wounds heal.
The National Kidney Foundation lists vitamin C as a commonly recommended supplement for those with chronic kidney disease or kidney failure. However, large doses can also cause oxalate buildup (a compound that can cause kidney damage or kidney stones) in those with kidney disease. So, talk to your doctor if you’re concerned.
The Bottom Line
As with your other organs, your kidneys deserve attention. Keep your kidneys healthy with a balanced diet, including the above best vitamins for kidney health, regular exercise, and other healthy daily habits.