Vitamin D & Kidney Function

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Your kidneys are two of the most important organs in your body. They provide many essential functions to your health, including filtering your blood of waste, balancing chemicals in your body, and releasing hormones and vitamins. Vitamin D is one of the hormones that the kidneys produce. Vitamin D is required to increase the circulation of calcium and phosphorous, two minerals necessary for healthy bones. If you experience kidney failure and your kidneys stop making vitamin D, it will throw your entire metabolism off.

3D Illustration of human internal organs.
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Your kidneys are a major part of the urinary system, along with the bladder, urethra and ureters. This pair of bean shaped organs removes waste from the body by producing urine and excreting it through the bladder and urethra. In addition to filtering the blood, the kidneys also help regulate blood pressure, electrolyte levels and the acid-base balance of the body. Kidneys also are an important part of the hormone production process, including vitamin D, which is necessary to keep your bones healthy and strong.

Kidney schematic images.
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The kidneys are found behind the abdomen, one on each side of the spleen. Blood enters the kidneys through your renal arteries. There waste is filtered from the blood and then the blood is sent back into circulation through the renal veins. Each kidney is also connected to a ureter, small muscular ducts that draw urine from the kidneys and delivers it to the bladder. As a rule, your left kidney is generally larger than your right one.

Kidney cross section.
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Your kidneys produce calcitriol, also known as active vitamin D. Surprisingly, vitamin D is actually a hormone that increases the circulation of calcium and phosphorous, minerals required for strong bones. First, it aids your body in absorbing these two minerals from the food you eat. It also encourages your bones to release stored deposits of calcium and phosphorous into the blood stream, as needed. And, finally, it tells your kidneys not to excrete these minerals into your urine.

Vitamin D spilling out of bottle.
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If severe trauma or kidney disease leads to kidney failure, the kidneys cannot activate vitamin D anymore. The levels of phosphate and calcium suddenly become unmanageable. Calcium levels drop and phosphorus levels climb, neither of which is good for your body. The result is so much phosphorous circulating in the blood that it begins to form calcium phosphate with the calcium. The calcium phosphate crystals form on soft tissue, which makes your bones think that there is no calcium in your blood. Your bones start to release all their stored calcium and continue to do so until it is all gone. With calcium stored, the bones become weak, soft and bendable. The calcium phosphate crystals begin to inflame the soft tissues. None of the tissues involved can function normally.

Kidney failure is severe.
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If you experience kidney failure and a subsequent vitamin D deficiency, your physician may prescribe vitamin D supplements to ensure that your metabolism stays on track. The key to lessening the effects of kidney failure is to catch it early. If kidney failure is detected early enough, you may be able to start vitamin D therapy before serious consequences take place. Unfortunately, kidney failure may also present few symptoms early on. One of the first symptoms is an increased difficulty urinating, along with lethargy, abdominal pain or nausea. If experiencing these symptoms, you should consult your physician immediately for a professional diagnosis.

Food sources of Vitamin D
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