Dialysis is a surrogate for the crucial function of filtering waste from the blood that is usually gone by our kidney. Without this technology, toxic wastes build up in the blood and tissues and cannot be filtered out by the ailing kidneys.
This condition is known as uremia, literally meaning “urine in the blood.” Eventually this waste accumulation leads to death. However, while dialysis save lives, artificially filtering the blood also decreases certain necessary nutrients. Replacing the lost vitamins and minerals and supplementing with antioxidants is a rational approach to preventing complications from hemodialysis.
If you’re on dialysis, have your mineral status checked before taking any supplements to determine the concentration of minerals in the blood serum, white blood cells (WBC), and red blood cells (RBC). A doctor knowledgeable in nutritional medicine should be able to help you decide which tests you need.
Dialysis removes L-carnitine and the other amino acids that the body uses to create it, which puts patients at risk for carnitine deficiency. The FDA has now approved L-carnitine supplements for dialysis patients, recommending them for persistent muscle cramps, hypo-tension (low blood pressure), lack of energy, and skeletal muscle weakness common during dialysis.
Clinical trials showed an increase in hemoglobin (the oxygen carrying part of red blood cells), leading to a decrease in the amount of erythropoietin (a drug that stimulates increased red blood cell production) needed.
Dialysis can deplete CoQ10 levels as well. Two randomized, double-blind, placebo- controlled trials have been conducted on CoQ10 supplementation for people with chronic renal failure. In both studies, fewer volunteers taking CoQ10 (specifically Q-Gel in one study) needed dialysis compared to the placebo group.
You may also benefit from manganese, zinc, and vitamin C supplements (depending on your deficiencies). Manganese and zinc can help by boosting the immune system. Vitamin C increases blood flow (critical for delivering nutrients to the cells), decreases DNA damage, and prevents free-radicals from forming.
Develop good habits.
Right from the beginning, it is important to “Eat right, take your meds, follow doctors’ orders,” people living with kidney disease not to give up: Change your eating habits and get out and exercise. Most important is watching everything that you put in your body. one important tip is the importance of “limiting fluid intake.”
Adjusting to the treatment regimen can be especially challenging for people who get an unexpected diagnosis of kidney failure. Dialysis takes a lot of time, but don’t be stubborn. Do your treatment as scheduled.
By John Neustadt, ND