Are you getting enough vitamins?

Chronic Kidney Failure is, sadly, becoming increasingly popular. During the past decade, cases of renal failure actually went through the roof. Joe Cosgrove has previously spoken widely about kidney failure and its possible treatments, including dialysis, which is, to present date, the most common and plausible solution for renal diseases.


Image courtesy of Mandy Jouan at

The kidneys are found in the midsection of the body, near the middle of the back, just above the waist; they are responsible for filtering and cleaning up the blood, keeping an ideal balance of both minerals and salt and controlling blood pressure, amongst other things. As mentioned earlier, whenever the kidneys fall victim of any type of disease, waste products, and other fluids start to accumulate in the body, which is what ultimately causes the notorious swelling in the patient’s ankles and other body parts; under these circumstances, patients start to experience other symptoms like constant weakness, poor sleep, vomiting and shortness of breath. It is important to mention that such symptoms are often related to other pathologies, which is why patients experiencing them should not rush into conclusions without having visited their primary physician.

As said before, if such symptoms are not assessed early, the patient might end up suffering from kidney failure: impaired kidney function is really a serious, sometimes fatal, condition. Nonetheless, if patients are already suffering from any type of renal failure and are actually undergoing dialysis, here are some advice regarding the vitamins and minerals they ought to be consuming in order for their kidneys to stand a chance of getting better. First of all, every human being must acknowledge the importance of consuming the right amount of vitamins and minerals; people suffering from chronic renal failure ought to pay special attention whether they are getting enough of these two for actually improving their health and their condition. Vitamins and minerals are substances required by the body so that it can carry out special functions: process food, provide energy, repair tissue and, above all, sustain life. Every single individual needs to consume vitamins and minerals, however, if somebody is suffering from kidney disease and is on dialysis, the likelihood of them not getting enough is high.

The vast majority of minerals and vitamins enter the body through diet, since the body fails (because it is not capable of) at making these elements. A normal individual with healthy kidneys (on a regular diet) normally ingests a wide spectrum of foods from all the existent food groups. This means that, as a matter of fact, pretty much everyone gets the right amount of vitamins and minerals on a daily basis; nevertheless, this scenario becomes irrelevant should someone suffer from renal failure, since one of the most vital steps for the body to slow down the pace at which the kidneys deteriorate is to tailor the patient’s diet. As mentioned before, patients on dialysis have a limited diet: there are some food groups that must be forbidden, which is why the chances of getting enough vitamins plummet. What type of vitamins and minerals, and what amounts, are to be defined by a physician after prior assessment.

The Renal disease often alters the body’s need for some substances and nutrients; such alteration results from the accumulation of waste products in the body, the medicines, the diet, the body’s ability to process them, etc. Depending upon the patient’s condition, a physician may suggest the inclusion of the following vitamins and minerals: B Complex, to prevent, amongst other things, anemia; Iron, to work alongside B Complex in the prevention of anemia and low red blood cells count; Vitamin C, to keep several tissues unharmed and prevent the possible appearance of infections; Vitamin D, to maintain healthy bones (it is important to note, that given the fact that there are different types of Vitamin D, it is advisable to consult a physician in the first place).


Image courtesy of Mike Mozart at

So, even though patients on dialysis ought to include these supplements as part of their diet, the downside of renal failure is that there are limited amounts and limited vitamins and minerals as well: the following vitamins and minerals have proven to accumulate in the body when suffering from kidney disease. Vitamin A, some types of Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K have commonly been related to the causing of harm due to the accumulation in the body. Given the fact that limited diets and the treatment itself are responsible for not getting the right amount of these substances, should patients want to binge on minerals and vitamins in order for them to get healthier, it is highly advisable to refer to the physician first so that he or she can determine which out of these substances are actually good and may provide, up to some extent, betterment to the patient.


Benefits and Disadvantages of Dialysis

When we have healthy kidneys our bodies work perfectly. Water retention is out of the table, we have healthy urine and our body simply never collects waste –at least not because of our kidneys. As the body is a machine where each part plays a vital role, a proper kidney function will also help regulate our blood pressure and mineral levels in the bloodstream. Meaning that our body will keep safe levels of different substances without the risk of intoxication.

Nevertheless, when our kidneys stop working like they should, medical intervention is needed. The most common procedure that takes place for patients with kidney disease is dialysis. This procedure helps the body perform its regular functions thanks to the artificial aid it provides. It helps our bloodstream to keep regular waste levels since it is constantly cleaning the blood and removing whatever that may accumulate in it and poison the body. Dialysis gives patients with kidney disease the chance to treat the problems that might be affecting their kidneys. However, there is more to this treatment. As any other artificial solution, it represents different benefits and disadvantages that need to be acknowledged before deciding to go with it.

In this article, Joe Cosgrove will share a list of benefits and disadvantages related to dialysis. First, the two types of dialysis will be defined and later a list of fundamental benefits and risks related to each one of them will be presented. It is important to keep in mind that any type of dialysis is meant to clean the blood and give patients the chance to have a normal life.


This is the most common type of dialysis among patients with kidney disease. A machine called a hemodialyzer operates as an artificial kidney, removing waste and harmful substances from the blood. The regular procedure includes a medical intervention where the doctor creates a vascular access to your bloodstream. This access will allow your blood to flow through your body while the dialysis treatment takes place. Having a wider access helps a larger amount of blood to be filtered and purified in one session.

Most hemodialysis treatments are done at a hospital or dialysis center and last less than five hours. Treatment sessions need to be done at least three times per week. However, sometimes shorter sessions can be done as long as they take place more frequently.

Benefits of hemodialysis

For long-term treatment, dialysis can be done at home. This means patients won’t have the need to go to the hospital three times per week but will have the chance to give themselves the dialysis treatment at home.

Another benefit associated with hemodialysis is the periodicity in which the treatment is done. Patients only need to be plugged to the artificial kidney three times per week instead of having a daily treatment. This allows them to have regular lives and activities.

If you go to the hospital for a dialysis session, you will always get help from healthcare professionals. This is ideal for patients with dementia or any physical limitation who cannot perform dialysis for themselves.

Disadvantages of hemodialysis

Patients going under the hemodialysis treatment will have for sure dietary restrictions. This means some foods will be allowed and recommended, but some others will be banned from your diet. Fluid consumption is also vital in order to have a successful dialysis treatment.

If you are not going under a long-term treatment, you will need to travel three times per week to the hospital. This can be often uncomfortable for patients.

If you need to go to the hospital three times a week this will limit your capacity to travel to another country. Usually, patients who need to get the treatment done every day don’t have the chance to have a regular life or visit other places.

There are some health conditions associated with hemodialysis as well. Low blood pressure, anemia, cramps, difficulty sleeping or depression are some of the most common side effects related to this time of dialysis that need to be kept in mind by patients.

Related: Dialysis

Peritoneal Dialysis

This type of dialysis involves a surgical procedure to implant a catheter into your belly area. It works in a way that a special fluid called dialysate is injected into your bloodstream through the abdominal cavity to draw waste out of the blood. Once the fluid has removed all the waste substances, it is removed from the body.

There are two different types or peritoneal dialysis which are most commonly used today. One is called Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis or CAPD and allows patients to keep a portable equipment that increases the freedom of movement for patients with renal disease. The other type is Automated peritoneal dialysis or APD, which includes a machine that needs to be kept at home but can perform the dialysis treatment at night while the patient is sleeping.

Benefits of peritoneal dialysis

The most significant benefit of peritoneal dialysis is the comfort and simple use of the dialysis equipment. It can be carried at home and doesn’t need the patient to go to the hospital in order for the dialysis to occur.

Dietary restrictions are also easier to handle compared to hemodialysis.


Image courtesy of Horrace at

Disadvantages of peritoneal dialysis

There is a high risk of getting an infection due to the abdominal implantation of the catheter.

There are some health conditions related to peritoneal dialysis. Abdominal muscle weakening, weight gain, and high blood sugar are some of the problems that may affect patients going under dialysis treatment.

One of the biggest disadvantages of peritoneal dialysis is that it needs to be carried every day. This may be uncomfortable for most patients.

What if I’m a cancer patient and I also need dialysis?

Renal failure is a recurrent condition in more than thirty percent of cancer patients during the course of their disease. The reasons for this are diverse, but they may be derived from tumor activity, as long as the kidney is involved because of a myeloma and the subsequent obstruction of the urinary tract. This is an unfortunate situation that causes tremendous pain to patients, and sometimes it’s hard to prevent, due to the silent appearance of tumors.


Image courtesy of samantha celera at

Renal failure is a serious complication. It impairs the quality of life and the overall prognosis of cancer patients. It is a well-known fact that the presence of renal failure implies an increased risk of dying, especially in the population of patients over 60 years, as well as when there is a cardiovascular comorbidity. The presence of these two diseases is never good news. The statistics do not yield positive data. Patients with cancer who simultaneously suffer from acute renal failure have a mortality between twenty-three and ninety-three percent. The main death reasons are related to severe hemodynamic compromise, the presence of respiratory disorders (particularly infectious, hepatic dysfunction and exposure to nephrotoxic drugs), but it does not mean that it’s a lost cause every time. Dialysis can extend the patient’s life, even if he or she suffers from an advanced stage cancer. Each organism is different, as each case is.

Many doctors believe that hemodialysis should be used in any patient with cancer and renal failure. The above, as long as the patient has a possibly treatable neoplasm. In general, if the patient has a good health and agrees with the intervention, there is basically no obstacle whatsoever that prevents the use of hemodialysis to treat his renal failure. Of course, the use of renal replacement therapy in subjects with progressing neoplasms who are not potentially curable, or when prostration greater than two months is found, is a matter of caution and the general consideration of the experts is that it is not advisable.

Related: How to choose the right treatment in case of renal failure?, by Joe Cosgrove

As a matter of fact, neoplasia is a delicate matter when it comes to dialysis. The conduct to be followed with patients undergoing periodic dialysis, which in turn develops a neoplasm, depends fundamentally on the characteristics of it. When it comes to rapidly course cancers and a tendency for metastatic spread, any type of treatment based on the tumor will be ineffective. It is important to take into account, on the other hand, the difficult management of chemotherapeutic agents in renal failure. The dialysis treatment should probably be maintained while the patient is conscious.

One thing is clear: if the patient has focused tumors with a less histological aggressiveness, and that, in turn, offer a good response to the base treatment, the reality is quite different. In these fortunate cases, patients can be maintained on dialysis, and if they do not show any evidence of activity, patients can even be considered candidates for kidney transplantation, which would simply be unthinkable in the case of a Metastasis or rapidly growing tumors.

One thing that many doctors should be aware of is the fact that individuals with a prior history of cancer do not have to be rejected categorically from the transplant program. I say this because in many cases it is given for granted that it is definitely a loss of energy, time and available organs to perform a kidney transplant for cancer patients who suffer from kidney failure and that – even – should not be treated by hemodialysis.

While it is true that immunosuppressive treatment may eventually lead to the potential risk of promoting the growth of residual tumor cells, it is not possible to make accurate predictions about the evolution of each patient. I insist: every situation is different. In fact, in many cases, an incredible evolution has been seen after transplantation in renal or ureteral cancer patients, for example. By this, I do not mean that the transplant should be performed as soon as possible because there are factors that must be evaluated beforehand and in sufficient detail (the behavior of the cancer cells in the affected tissues, mainly).


Image courtesy of Sadasiv Swain at

In short, it is clear that there are factors that predispose dialysis patients to the appearance of a neoplasm; especially the worsening of the immunological capacity of the uremic patient, since these patients usually suffer a severe immunosuppression (in addition to the fact that the onset of hemodialysis does not generally improve the immunosuppressive state of these patients.) It is also true that thousands of specialists suggest that dialysis itself may represent a carcinogenic risk factor since patients undergoing dialysis for a long time are exposed to large amounts of dialysis fluid that may contain carcinogenic components (nitrites, for example, may turn into nitrosamines.)

But these hypotheses have not been proven. Dialysis, like transplants, should not be ruled out. It is important to evaluate all the options (and there are many successful cases that demonstrate this).

Recommended: Association of Dialysis with the Risks of Cancers