Your kidneys are roughly fist-sized organs located at the bottom of your ribcage on either side of your spine.
Their primary function is to filter waste products like excess water and impurities from your blood, but they also help regulate hormones and more.
Maintaining healthy kidneys is important to your overall health and well-being, so how can you help these bean-shaped organs stay fighting fit and what vitamins are good for kidneys?
Vitamins B6, B12, folic acid, and iron are known to prevent anemia and support kidney health. Other essential vitamins for kidney health include A, D, E, K, C, niacin, and biotin. Some supplements like Alpha lipoic acid, Andrographis, Moringa, Resveratrol, and Milk Thistle can also contribute to kidney health.
Because your kidneys help to filter your blood and regulate your hormones, keeping them in healthy working order is vital – failure to do so can result in chronic conditions and even death.
Fortunately, these conditions are rare in healthy individuals and there are lots of easy ways to improve your kidney health, such as altering your diet and exercising regularly.
In addition, many medical professionals and supplement manufacturers have been searching for substances that can improve your kidney health, trying to find out what vitamins are good for your kidneys.
While the simplest way to strengthen your kidneys is by reducing your intake of potentially harmful chemicals such as sodium and potassium and exercising regularly, here are some tips to help keep your kidneys healthy.
Table of Contents
First off, the B vitamins are superstars when it comes to kidney health. Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid work together with iron to help prevent anemia, a condition that can occur with chronic kidney disease. B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin), and niacin are also essential for people dealing with kidney conditions. (source)
Vitamin D is another important one. It’s essential for bone health and can also help your kidneys function properly. Vitamin C is known for its antioxidant properties and can help protect the kidneys from damage.
Other essential vitamins for kidney health include vitamins A, E, and K5. Some supplements like Alpha lipoic acid, Andrographis, Moringa, NAC, Probiotics, and Resveratrol can also contribute to kidney health.
Here are some common and readily available ways to get these vitamins:
With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at supplements to help kidneys.
According to the American Kidney Fund, approximately 37 million Americans suffer from kidney disease, but many are unaware as it doesn’t present any symptoms in the early stages.
While adopting a healthy lifestyle and diet will go a long way to reducing your chances of getting Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), there are some good supplements you can take to support kidney health, such as:
Alpha Lipoic Acid (or ALA) is a fat and water-soluble antioxidant linked to improved nerve function, slowed skin aging, and reduced inflammation.
While it can be found in foods, supplements contain much higher levels of ALA, making them a much better pick when asking what vitamins are good for kidneys.
Andrographis paniculata (also known simply as Andrographis or the King of Bitters), is a medicinal herb widely cultivated in Asia for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Additionally, some animal studies show that Andrographis’ active ingredients may reduce liver and kidney alcohol toxicity, so this herb may help protect your kidneys against the harmful effects of alcohol.
Moringa oleifera (just Moringa to its friends) is a species of tree cultivated across Asia, Central America, and Africa for food and medicine.
Almost every part of Moringa trees – from the roots to the seeds – is edible and moringa leaf extract may protect against kidney toxicity caused by OTC painkillers, making this a good answer to the question of what vitamins are good for kidneys.
Resveratrol, a polyphenol that acts as an antioxidant, can be found in red wine, berries, grapes, and peanuts and has been shown to protect against kidney damage in animal studies.
While resveratrol has been linked to surprising benefits – such as lowering blood pressure and even suppressing cancer – human studies are limited, so it’s uncertain how beneficial this supplement could be for your kidney health.
The milk thistle plant, also known as Silybum marianum, is a prickly plant with purple flowers and white veins rich in silymarin compounds which have antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
While studies have found that milk thistle extract helps to protect your liver against toxins and improve liver function, there is little evidence it specifically benefits your kidneys.
However, being that your kidneys and liver perform similar biological functions (i.e., filtering toxins from your blood), it is entirely reasonable to assume that if milk thistle helps your liver, it will provide some holistic benefit to your kidneys.
As your kidneys are one of the main organs responsible for maintaining the chemical balance of your blood, excessive levels of vitamins can be just as harmful as toxins like alcohol for your kidney health.
So, instead of wondering what vitamins are good for kidneys, we would encourage you to avoid or decrease your intake of the following vitamins and minerals:
Phosphorous is an essential mineral your body uses to build healthy bones and make new cells, but it can be harmful in excessive amounts and many Americans eat more than recommended.
While phosphorous can be found in a variety of natural foods, it is often used as an additive in all kinds of processed food and drink, from cola to hot dogs.
The synthetic forms of phosphorous commonly used as food additives are bound to salt and easily absorbed by your intestinal tract, so eating processed food and drink puts you at a greater risk of excessive phosphorous levels.
When trying to find out what vitamins are good for kidneys, the main thing to remember is “everything in moderation”.
An essential vitamin that can be found in a range of fruits and vegetables, potassium supports a variety of biological functions, though it can be harmful in higher concentrations.
In people with kidney disease, their kidneys may be unable to effectively filter potassium from the blood, potentially resulting in dangerously high blood potassium levels.
For this reason, many people with weakened kidneys or an increased risk of kidney disease are put on special diets to reduce their potassium intake.
While potassium is generally safe (and most people don’t consume anywhere near hazardous levels), it shouldn’t really be included in discussions of what vitamins are good for kidneys for this reason.
Salt is made up of 40% sodium, happens to be one of THE most common food additives, and is linked to a wide range of conditions, notably heart and kidney disease.
Processed and preserved foods (like processed meat, ready meals, and canned foods) contain high levels of sodium in the form of salt and sodium-based preservatives, meaning you could be eating far more sodium than you realize.
While sodium is an essential nutrient and healthy within reasonable levels, many Americans consume more than the recommended levels which could be putting their kidney health at risk.
Asking yourself ‘How can I cut down on sodium?’ will do more to help your long-term health than discovering what vitamins are good for kidneys, so swap the canned goods for fresh meat and veggies whenever possible.
Your kidneys are responsible for flushing toxins out of your body by filtering blood and expelling excess water and other impurities into the bladder, where they are expelled in urine.
By keeping your kidneys healthy, your body will be able to properly expel waste and regulate blood pressure, so make sure to follow these tips if you want to keep your kidneys working better for longer:
People with high blood sugar (such as diabetics) are at greater risk of developing kidney damage because their kidneys have to work extra hard to filter the excess sugar from their blood.
Over time, this extra strain may lead to serious kidney damage before you can say what vitamins are good for kidneys, but it’s easy to prevent or reverse if you can catch it early on.
High blood pressure increases the strain on your kidneys – especially when combined with other health issues like diabetes – so you should take steps to keep your blood pressure within safe limits.
According to the American Heart Association, normal blood pressure should be 120/80 or lower, and readings of 140/90 and above could indicate hypertension, so consult your doctor if you consistently get blood pressure readings at this range.
Smoking is linked to a wide range of health issues, from increased rates of cancer to damaged blood vessels, many of which can harm your kidneys.
Prevention is always better than the cure, so you should limit how much you smoke or stop smoking entirely before you start worrying about what vitamins are good for your kidneys.
If you regularly take over-the-counter (or OTC) pain meds, you could be damaging your kidneys without realizing it.
Regular use of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen and ibuprofen can cause kidney damage, but if you don’t have any existing kidney issues and only take these drugs occasionally, you’re probably okay.
If you fall into a high-risk category for kidney disease or damage, regular testing is a great way to be sure of your kidney health and check for damage or early warning signs.
If you’re worrying over what vitamins are good for kidneys and fit into one of the following categories, you might want to get screened:
Because your kidneys are so important to your general health, you should take steps to improve your health wherever possible, though you might be wondering exactly how to do this.
The best way to improve or maintain your kidney health is by leading an active, health-conscious lifestyle, but if you have a chronic health condition that increases your risk of kidney damage, there are other ways to naturally strengthen your liver and kidneys, such as:
Regular exercise has been shown to improve almost every aspect of health, from reducing blood pressure to improving mental health, but thankfully you don’t have to run marathons to benefit.
Even low-impact exercises like walking and dancing are good for your health, so find an activity that keeps you active and having fun, and stop worrying about what vitamins are good for your kidneys.
An unhealthy diet high in sugar and sodium can damage much more than your waistline, as overweight or obese people are at much higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease.
In order to support healthy kidneys, you should try to eat a low-sodium diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables such as whole grains, blueberries, and fish.
Water helps to clear toxins and sodium from your kidneys and staying hydrated is essential for staying healthy, so you should worry more about drinking 8 glasses of water than what vitamins are good for your kidneys.
Regular and consistent water intake is great for your kidneys, and the cliché ‘8 glasses a day’ advice is a good goal, though you should tailor your intake based on your lifestyle and health factors.
Your kidneys work hard to filter out toxins and impurities from your blood, so limiting your intake of alcohol – which is toxic in higher concentrations – will obviously contribute to kidney health.
While the occasional tipple is generally safe, you should limit your alcohol intake if you are worried about your kidneys, so try swapping your drinks for lower alcohol alternatives or cut back gradually.
Also Read: Best Vitamins for Muscle Growth
As with virtually every other organ in your body, the best way to support healthy liver and kidneys is by eating healthily and exercising regularly.
Unfortunately, many people with reasonably healthy lifestyles are at higher risk of kidney disease due to genetic factors, leading them to seek out medical advice on what vitamins are good for kidneys.
While there are many vitamins and minerals that support kidney health when taken in safe amounts, the best way to support your kidneys is by reducing your intake of certain vitamins and minerals.
Your kidneys are basically filters, so try to lead a pure life and cut back on your salt and alcohol intake, as these compounds are especially harmful in high concentrations.