While as a dietitian, I hope that everyone eats a perfectly healthy diet that meets all of their body’s nutrition needs, I know that this is not the case all the time. A multivitamin-mineral supplement can bridge the gap between what you need and what you have provided your body through food. This helps your body have all the materials it needs to function like a well-oiled machine.
Vitamins function as co-enzymes in your body and are used to help your body work properly. Without them, your body could not make energy out of food, grow, or repair itself. My son asked us last night: what is the most complicated machine in the world? The human body! It is amazing!
Vitamin deficiencies may occur in renal disease. Since the renal diet restricts some of the richest food sources of vitamins, and the symptoms of vitamin deficiency are often hard to detect, they may be overlooked. Therefore, a special renal vitamin is often prescribed by your kidney doctor.
Your needs are different now that you have kidney disease for a number of reasons. First, the renal diet restricts many types of foods, like dairy products, beans, fruits, and vegetables. These foods are rich sources of water soluble vitamins. Second, you may not be eating as much food as you used to because you are too tired to cook, have taste changes or just aren’t hungry. This can contribute to risk of malnutrition, poor wound healing, and increased risk of infection. Also, some medications can interfere with the absorption and use of some vitamins in your body. Lastly, the dialysis treatment itself can lead to a loss of some vitamins and a buildup of others.
It is important to take a renal vitamin instead of a regular, over-the-counter (OTC) multivitamin because you have need for more of some nutrients, and less of others. Renal vitamins are formulated especially for the needs of renal patients! Due to your dietary restrictions, you may be eating less than the ideal amount of B complex vitamins, especially folic acid and Vitamin B6. Megadoses of vitamins should be avoided, too. For example, taking over 100mg of Vitamin C may cause systemic oxalosis, increasing risk for oxalate stone (kidney stone) formation. Too much B6 can lead to peripheral neuropathy. Fat soluble vitamin needs (A and E) are even harder to determine because they can accumulate in the body. In short, an OTC multivitamin may have too much of some vitamins and minerals and not enough of others.