4 nutrients to combat kidney disease
(Naturalhealth365) Chronic kidney disease – in which waste products accumulate in the body due to the kidneys’ inability to properly filter them – currently affects 30 million Americans. Aging adults are particularly at risk for this potentially life-threatening condition, and scientists expect rates of the disease to rise steeply over the next ten years.
However, four nutrients – CoQ10, B-complex vitamins, vitamin E and lipoic acid – are proving their value as safe, low-cost and effective interventions to minimize the risk of kidney disease. Let’s talk about how these four key nutrients can help you “put the brakes” on kidney-related health issues.
Warning: Chronic kidney disease increases your risk of dying from heart disease
The kidneys, which are responsible for filtering blood at the staggering rate of 200 quarts a day, are subject to a high concentration of toxins – and susceptible to massive oxidative stress as a result.
Over time, chronic kidney disease (CKD) – also known as chronic kidney failure – can progress to irreversible end-stage kidney disease, in which the accumulation of toxic waste products such as creatinine, urea and nitrogen causes the contraction and dysfunction of vital organs.
In the absence of a kidney transplant or dialysis treatments, end-stage kidney disease leads to death.
Chronic kidney disease can also have devastating effects on the cardiovascular system, with studies showing that CKD causes the risk of mortality from heart disease to increase 30-fold. (Yes, you read that correctly. CKD patients experience a risk of dying from heart disease that is increased – not by 30 percent, but by a stunning 30 times. Hence, the urgent need for non-toxic natural therapies for kidney dysfunction).
Coenzyme Q10 caused slowing of kidney disease in over 80 percent of patients
CoQ10 is a vitamin-like substance that enhances the body’s natural antioxidant capacity and neutralizes free radicals. Both normal aging and the development of kidney disease cause levels of CoQ10 to decline, causing fats in the blood to be more susceptible to oxidative damage and adding to the renal burden.
A recent, rigorous study showed exactly what CoQ10 supplementation could accomplish – even in cases of end-stage kidney failure.
In a placebo-controlled clinical trial published in Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, 97 patients with chronic renal failure were divided into two groups, and then given either 180 mg of CoQ10 a day or a placebo for 12 weeks.
Researchers found that supplementing with CoQ10 decreased – or even reversed – the progression of end-stage kidney disease in 81 percent of the patients. The number of patients on dialysis decreased from 21 to 12 in the CoQ10 group, which also experienced significantly lower levels of creatinine and blood urea nitrogen.
In other words, half of the CoQ10-treated patients who were on dialysis at baseline were able to stop dialysis by the study’s end. (In contrast, the placebo group had worsening renal function, and none of them were able to stop dialysis).
The researchers also noted substantial increases in beneficial beta-carotene and in levels of the vitamins D and E, while levels of the toxic waste product malondiadehyde fell drastically. Noting that the annual cost of dialysis in the United States exceeds $22 billion, medical experts have called the public health implications of this study “enormous.”
Study: B-complex vitamins such as pyridoxamine and pyridoxal protect the kidneys
Vitamin B6, in the form of pyridoxamine, helps to “capture” and eliminate harmful molecules formed during the oxidation of fats. This nutrient has been shown in studies to protect the kidneys by fighting the formation of harmful advanced glycation end-products, or AGEs.
In one landmark animal study, researchers found that pyridoxamine outperformed the pharmaceutical drug enalapril in lowering creatinine levels. (The second and third most effective therapies were vitamin E and lipoic acid, with the prescription drug at the bottom).
Human studies have supported vitamin B6’s beneficial effects as well.
In a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, 317 diabetics with protein in their urine received pyridoxamine twice a day for a year. The scientists reported that the vitamin helped to slow the rise of creatinine levels and the progression of kidney disease – especially in the early stages.
(Note: In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration classified pyridoxamine as a drug. Fortunately, another form of B6 – pyridoxal-5-phosphate – is also effective against AGEs and kidney disease.)
Alpha- lipoic acid supports kidney health
Alpha-lipoic acid has been studied internationally for its ability to prevent or alleviate drug-induced kidney damage, and been shown to be safe and effective in protecting kidneys against toxic doses of acetaminophen and cyclosporine.
Animal studies have shown that this beneficial fatty acid can lower protein loss in the urine and improve kidney health. Encouragingly, studies suggest that alpha-lipoic acid, when given to those with end-stage renal disease, can also reduce the risk of dangerous cardiovascular complications.
Good dietary sources of alpha-lipoic acid include brewer’s yeast, broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, beets and potatoes. The nutrient is also available as a nutritional supplement.
Vitamin E can enhance kidney function in diabetic patients
Studies have shown that vitamin E’s potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help to improve kidney function.
A study published in Diabetes Care showed that 1,800 IU of vitamin E a day caused normalization of the kidney’s ability to clear creatinine in patients who had had diabetes for ten or more years, leading to improvement in kidney function. In other research, scientists concluded that vitamin E could slow kidney failure arising from oxidative stress – and credited it as a potential adjunctive therapy to help prolong kidney function.
You can increase your dietary intake of vitamin E with organic almonds, hazelnuts, wheat germ, sunflower seeds and olive oil. Vitamin E supplements are also available in various forms, including tocopherols and tocotrienols. Your integrative doctor can help you devise a regimen that is right for you.
Finally, with diabetes and obesity serving as two major contributors to kidney disease, it is clear that diet plays a key role in preventing and combating the condition.
In fact, a Columbia University study has shown that adherence to a Mediterranean diet (high in fruits, vegetables, fish and healthy fats and oils) was strongly linked to a lower risk of chronic kidney disease – demonstrating the vital role that nutrients can play in preventing this devastating condition.
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