When we have a condition that is new or causing us pain, we may hear about, or find some supplements that make claims that they’ll help. From the perspective of kidney disease, there are no herbal supplements that are safe. You may, instead, be recommended to take certain vitamins or a couple of minerals, but that’s it. Read on to know what kidney supplements are safe and what are not for kidney disease.
Depending on your health and other factors, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) notes that your healthcare provider may recommend some of the following supplements:
1. B Complex: B complex vitamins are grouped together, but they all do different things.
2. Iron: As noted above, if you have anemia, you might need iron as a pill or injectable. Only take iron if your doctor prescribes it.
3. Vitamin C: Vitamin C is used to keep many different types of tissue healthy. It also helps wounds and bruises heal faster and may help prevent infections. Your doctor may need to give you a prescription for this vitamin, since it is safe for kidneys only in low doses.
4. Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important to maintain healthy bones. Like iron, vitamin D comes both in pill and injectable forms. Injectables can be given during your dialysis treatment if you are receiving dialysis. Your doctor will tell you the type and amount you should be taking. You should only take vitamin D if your doctor prescribes it.
5. Calcium: Calcium along with vitamin D helps to keep your bones healthy. Too much phosphorous in the blood may upset the balance of calcium, causing you to lose calcium from bones. While you can take a “phosphorous binder” medication if your blood phosphorus is too high (this binds the phosphorus from your food, and helps you eliminate the excess), some phosphorus binder medications already contain calcium, so you may not need a calcium supplement depending on the binder you take. Too much calcium, however, can clump together with phosphorus and deposit in places such as your heart, blood vessels, lungs and other body tissues. Take only the amount of calcium prescribed by your doctor or renal dietitian.
Vitamins A, E and K are more likely to build up in your body and can cause harm if you have too much. Over time, they can cause dizziness, nausea, and even death. Only take these vitamins if your doctor gives you a prescription.
Although safe in low doses, large doses of Vitamin C may cause a buildup of oxalate in people with kidney disease. Oxalate may stay in the bones and soft tissue, which can cause pain and other issues over time.
People with chronic kidney disease and people on dialysis should avoid herbal remedies and over the counter nutritional supplements. There may be unwanted interactions with medications or other side effects. Always speak to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any herbal remedies, vitamins, or other non-prescribed supplements.
The NKF also suggests that, since many herbal remedies also contain plenty of potassium or phosphorous, they specifically must be limited for people in the end-stages of kidney disease and on dialysis.
While there are some vitamins like B12, C (in low amounts), and D, as well as some minerals like iron and calcium, that may be prescribed by your doctor if you are deficient, herbal supplements are not generally recommended. Limit or avoid all herbal supplements unless you clear them with your doctor first.