Kidney disease, often referred to as chronic kidney disease or CKD, is the loss of kidney function over a period of time ranging from several months to several years (1). KCD is very common and can affect anyone regardless of health or age. Without dialysis treatment or a transplant the disease is fatal. The cause of kidney disease can be attributed to a wide range of factors. One of the most prominent and widely reported is high blood pressure levels. High blood pressure strains the small blood vessels inside the kidney and disrupts the kidneys normative function (2). A further cause of CKD is diabetes. As glucose builds up in an individual's blood stream it damages the small filters located in the kidney which over time can lead to a diagnosis of CKD (3). Other well documented causes of CKD include high cholesterol, frequent kidney infections, kidney stones, enlarged prostate and regular usage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (1).
Data taken from Kidney Care UK highlights the true extent of KCD. The charity organisation explains that Around 1 in every 8 people in the UK will develop Chronic Kidney Disease and that approximately 64,000 people in the UK are being treated for kidney failure. Generally the disease is associated with the aging process although recent findings suggest that the disease is more common in black people and people of south Asian origin. Some researchers suggest that these ethnic communities are five times more likely to develop CKD that other groups (4).
Methods of treatment for kidney disease
While treatment for kidney disease is available there is not yet a known cure. The treatment offered can reduce the symptoms associated with CKD and can prevent the disease from worsening. The treatments offered to a patient heavily depend on the stage of their CKD (1). Common treatments include lifestyle changes, prescribed medication, Dialysis treatment and kidney transplants (5).
One of the easiest and thus most common management methods for CKD is changes in lifestyle. Several important changes have been put forward by the British NHS. These include performing regular exercise, quitting smoking and avoiding over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. It is also recommended that those suffering with CKD have a healthy and balanced diet with a restricted salt intake of less than 6g of salt per day (2). Further to this, those diagnosed should limit their alcohol intake to less than 14 units per week. As previously mentioned these lifestyle changes will not cure an individual's CKD but will ensure symptoms are suppressed and the condition does not worsen (1).
Micro nutrients and supplements
There is not yet any medicine especially designed for tackling CKD. However, a large amount of micronutrients and supplements are available that assist treatment and suppress symptoms of the disease. The use of vitamins A, B, and C are highly encouraged for those suffering from CKD (6).
Vitamin A helps promote the growth of new cells and tissue that fight against infection. B Vitamins helps to maintain nerve cells and works alongside the supplement folate to produce red blood cells. Finally, Vitamin C increases the body's ability to absorb iron which helps the body produce the chemical collagen. Collagen helps the body to repair red blood cells and tissues and ensures our immune system remains healthy (7).
However, the use of these aforementioned vitamins does not come without risk. As vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin it is more likely to build up in your body. This can be dangerous as toxic levels can occur if the vitamin is used regularly (6). Further to this, the use of vitamin C is strongly recommended to be capped at 60 to 100 mg daily doses. High usage of vitamin C causes the build up of Oxalate which is hugely harmful when deposited into bones and soft tissue (6).
Another method to suppress the symptoms of kidney disease is the use of micronutrients. This involves providing adequate protein and calories to patients in order to prevent malnutrition and to ensure the body is best equipped to resist the disease (6). Other micronutrients include Niacin, Biotin and Folate. Niacin helps cells produce energy and ensures that enzymes function in the body. Biotin and Folate metabolic protein and assists in making DNA for new cells (8).
The use of both vitamins and micronutrients is still a relatively new approach. As such potential interactions with medication that suffers of CKD may be on is being explored. Some experts suggest that the use of such supplements may interfere with the dialysis process and could also limit the success of kidney transplants. However, their claims are unproven and more research into the area is required.
To conclude, CKD is a common and potentially fatal disease that results in the loss of kidney function over a period of time ranging from several months to several years. There is not yet a known cure for CKD, however, several treatments are available to those diagnosed with the disease. These treatments include lifestyle changes, micronutrients and supplements, Dialysis treatment and kidney transplants. However, the use of micronutrients and supplements is relatively new and the effects they can have on alternative treatments must be studied before they can be used frequently as a treatment for CKD.
1.Gillenwater, J.Y. and Wein, A.J., 1988. Summary of the national institute of arthritis, diabetes, digestive and kidney diseases workshop on interstitial cystitis, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, August 28-29, 1987. The Journal of urology, 140(1), pp.203-206.
2. Chobanian, A.V., Bakris, G.L., Black, H.R., Cushman, W.C., Green, L.A., Izzo Jr, J.L., Jones, D.W., Materson, B.J., Oparil, S., Wright Jr, J.T. and Roccella, E.J., 2003. The seventh report of the joint national committee on prevention, detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood pressure: the JNC 7 report. Jama, 289(19), pp.2560-2571.
3. Baynes, J.W., 1991. Role of oxidative stress in development of complications in diabetes. Diabetes, 40(4), pp.405-412.
4. Martyn, C.N., Barker, D.J.P. and Osmond, C., 1996. Mothers' pelvic size, fetal growth, and death from stroke and coronary heart disease in men in the UK. The Lancet, 348(9037), pp.1264-1268.
5. Levey, A.S., Eckardt, K.U., Tsukamoto, Y., Levin, A., Coresh, J., Rossert, J., Zeeuw, D.D., Hostetter, T.H., Lameire, N. and Eknoyan, G., 2005. Definition and classification of chronic kidney disease: a position statement from Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO). Kidney international, 67(6), pp.2089-2100.
6. Holden, R.M., Morton, A.R., Garland, J.S., Pavlov, A., Day, A.G. and Booth, S.L., 2010. Vitamins K and D status in stages 3–5 chronic kidney disease. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 5(4), pp.590-597.
7. Mann, J.F., Sheridan, P., McQueen, M.J., Held, C., Arnold, J.M.O., Fodor, G., Yusuf, S. and Lonn, E.M., 2007. Homocysteine lowering with folic acid and B vitamins in people with chronic kidney disease—results of the renal Hope-2 study. Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, 23(2), pp.645-653.