Updated: Jul 13, 2022
I often get asked "what sort of supplements do you recommend for PKD?" or "is this supplement safe for PKD?"
The inspiration for this post came about after a recent conversation with someone in the community who was interested in a heavily concentrated supplementation called Athletic Greens.
Here is my short answer: I do not recommend supplements. This includes vitamins, minerals, protein powders & convenient mixes of any kind. Please keep reading and let me elaborate...
What I do recommended is looking at your diet and trying to implement more food sources of the vitamins, minerals & other nutrients you need.
That being said, the decision to use supplements is a personal choice and it should always be based on the individual while accounting for factors such as kidney function, CKD stage, general health, underlying conditions, etc.
If you are knowledgeable in your own health and making an informed decision, taking certain supplements is not a bad thing. For example, if you have a very busy schedule and you're struggling to properly nourish your body, sometimes supplementation can help to boost your nutrition status. Water-soluble vitamins like B-vitamins can help energize your day, support metabolism and help you to get back on track. Water-soluble means we use these throughout the day and any excess is excreted through our urine (so it doesn't build up in the body).
You need to proceed with caution when considering supplementation of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E + K).
I do not recommend supplementing these until you've had your blood levels tested and you have proof of a deficiency. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body and therefore it is possible to get too much, putting more pressure on the kidneys to remove excess.
Interestingly, Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in kidney health as there is evidence to suggest low levels may negatively impact outcomes. This is definitely something to have checked through bloodwork; if you are deficient, this is a good vitamin to supplement.
I think there's a clear reason for why we, as a society, like to reach for supplements: they are a "quick-fix" or a convenience-based approach to health.
As a mom of two young kids, I totally see the appeal of this strategy, but as a nutritionist, I know there's a lot more benefit to eating natural, whole foods. I also think it's easy to overlook the power of food when you're really busy!
So, to reiterate, I would not recommend supplements to PKD warriors. I would first encourage you to analyze diet and figure how you can get more of what your body needs to be healthy. After taking this approach, working with a medical professional to help guide you is the safest way to supplement if you have kidney disease.
Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), real food advocate, PKD warrior