The Kidneys Connection to Heart and Bone Health
The kidneys are two of our most vital organs yet most people have no idea where they are located in the body or what exactly they do. Kidney disease, or renal failure, seriously affects the whole body. Those diagnosed with kidney disease no longer have the means to balance the electrolytes and vitamins that keep our bones, muscles, heart, blood pressure and metabolism in good order. A body with kidney disease is also likely to have heart disease as these organs work closely together to keep the body functioning. Fortunately, there are ways you can prevent kidney problems, such as taking supplements for kidney health.
What and Where are Your Kidneys?
Kidneys are bean-shaped organs located either side of the spine in the lower back. Each kidney is about the size of your fist. They are made up of nephrons full of a network of tiny blood vessels that filter all the blood in your body once every five minutes.
Around 60% of the body is made up of water. It flushes toxins from the organs, maintains hydration in the cells and transports nutrients around the body. The kidneys regulate how much water the body retains and expel the rest from the body as urine.
Kidneys Balance Electrolytes
Electrolytes such as calcium, sodium and potassium work together to keep the body functioning as it should. These electrically charged substances are controlled by the kidneys and must be kept in balance. Calcium is important for strong bones, but phosphorus is just as important for maintaining healthy bones and teeth and transferring energy around the body.
The balance of calcium and phosphorus is important as they work together to keep cells healthy and regulate the nervous system. They also control the contraction of muscles. Anyone suffering from kidney disease will find all these functions are failing.
Kidneys Produce Vitamin D
One of the ways that the kidneys control the balance of phosphorus is by producing an active form of vitamin D (calcitrol). It helps the body absorb calcium and excrete excess phosphorous. Renal disease means that the kidneys are unable to produce vitamin D which quickly causes bone-related problems. Insufficient levels of calcitrol in the kidneys eventually result in serious bone loss.
Another important role of vitamin D in the kidneys is to control blood pressure. If the kidneys fail to activate vitamin D, the heart may suffer with hypertension. High blood pressure affects the rate that the heart pushes the blood through the kidneys. Too much blood or too much pressure can scar the kidneys or can even cause acute kidney failure, so a healthy heart is essential for healthy kidneys, and vice versa.
Kidneys and Hormones
Another important role of the kidneys is to produce the hormone erythropoietin which tells the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. These blood cells make up 36-44% of the blood and carry essential oxygen around the body to all the other organs.
As you can see, those poorly understood kidneys are essential for maintaining a healthy body and we should take good care of them. Keep pain relievers to a minimum as they can be harmful to your kidneys when taken regularly over a long period. Take other medications as prescribed for the same reason. Maintain a healthy weight to reduce pressure on your kidneys and manage your blood pressure carefully through exercise and diet.