There’s no doubt about it – Vitamin D has been trending in the news within the last couple of years, mainly in conjunction with whether it can help in treating COVID or not. But Vitamin D is very helpful in conjunction with kidney function, as well. For some reason, we have been seeing many inquiries about this in recent weeks.
It’s well known that Vitamin D is nicknamed the sunshine vitamin due to the fact that our bodies – particularly the skin – make it in response to sunlight. Our liver converts this Vitamin D from the sunlight to the form that is measured by a blood test. So, spending a bit more time in the sun is a great way to up your levels of this all-important vitamin.
You can also get Vitamin D through certain foods and supplements which will ensure that you have ample levels in your bloodstream. Vitamin D is fat soluble. Salmon, herring, and sardines contain Vitamin D. So does cod liver oil, canned tuna, egg yolks, mushrooms, and other fortified foods (think milk). Spinach also has the vitamin, as well as kale, okra, collards, soybeans, white beans, etc.
Too much Vitamin D can hurt your kidneys. Since it’s fat soluble, it stays in your body longer than if it were water soluble (where things wash out quickly). So, it’s important to have just the right amount! Most people either have adequate amounts when measured in their blood, or they have too little, which can make us vulnerable to other disease since it’s important to immune function.
Too much of this wonderful vitamin can also contribute to constipation, nausea, and kidney stones. So, it’s very important to work with a competent healthcare practitioner and have it measured occasionally so you really know where your level is. If it’s low, then you can take supplementation or try focusing on the foods that are rich in Vitamin D and spend a bit more time in the sun!
But how is it supposed to help kidney function?
There are also many benefits to having enough Vitamin D in your body. It may play a role in reduction of risk for multiple sclerosis, decrease your chance of developing heart disease, and help reduce your risk of getting the flu.
Vitamin D can reduce depression, according to some clinical studies. Another study was conducted with people who have fibromyalgia, and it showed that Vitamin D deficiency was more prevalent in these people dealing with anxiety and depression.
Vitamin D may help with weight loss or in heart disease. In a study conducted with overweight people, those who took a daily Vitamin D supplement together with calcium were able to lose more weight than those taking a placebo. In another study with overweight individuals, those who supplemented daily with Vitamin D showed improved heart disease risk markers.
Healthy kidneys have many Vitamin D receptors, and they help turn the vitamin into its active form. If you have kidney disease, your kidneys cannot activate the Vitamin D. Without the ability to control calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood, your parathyroid hormone goes outside of its normal healthy level.
Recommended doses vary, from about 400 IU up to 2000 IU per day. I like to err on the side of caution and find out where my blood level is first!
Several herbs have been studied and are known to be good for the kidneys, as well. These are milk thistle which contains silymarin and helps repair kidney tissue faster and is chock full of antioxidants. It is known to reduce inflammation in the kidneys as well. Marshmallow root is known to be anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal. This root can act as a diuretic which can help flush out toxins from the kidneys.
Parsley – of all things – contains many flavonoids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all good for the kidneys. Like marshmallow root, it can have a diuretic effect. Beetroot helps dilate blood vessels, increasing blood flow, which enhances your kidney function. Beetroot is also anti-inflammatory. Ginger, also great for the digestive tract, can lower inflammation and remove toxins from your organs.
The great news is that many people can recover if their kidneys are not functioning well. Eating a very healthy diet and taking some needed supplements like Vitamin D in appropriate amounts, practicing mindfulness, reducing stress, and more goes a very long way toward helping everything in your body including your kidneys achieve improvement and abundant health.
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!