Vitamin B12 supplements may help treat certain symptoms of kidney disease. They can assist in preventing anemia and may also treat vitamin B12 deficiencies, which are common in people with kidney disease.

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin. It plays an important role in the health of a number of different parts of the body, including the central nervous system, red blood cells, and DNA.

Kidney disease is the term for the gradual loss of kidney function over time. Medical professionals often refer to this as chronic kidney disease (CKD).

CKD causes the kidneys to fail to filter the blood effectively. This can lead to waste products building up in the blood, resulting in the symptoms of CKD.

In this article, we outline how vitamin B12 can be beneficial for people with CKD. We also discuss the risk of vitamin B12 for those with CKD and list other natural treatments for people with the condition.

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Anemia is a common complication of CKD. It is a condition that causes the blood to have a lower-than-normal amount of red blood cells (RBCs), or hemoglobin. People with CKD and anemia may have low levels of:

These nutrients all help the body to make healthy RBCs. If a person has anemia and CKD, a doctor may ask them to take vitamin B12 or folate supplements to help their body make more RBCs. This can help treat anemia that occurs in CKD due to a B12 or folate deficiency.

A person can take vitamin B12 as a dietary supplement or as a prescription medication. A 2020 study notes that people with CKD are more likely to have a vitamin B12 deficiency than people without kidney disease.

Studies show that impairment in the way the body metabolizes vitamin B12 may be a risk factor for poor outcomes in people with CKD.

These studies suggest that medical professionals should regularly measure and monitor the vitamin B12 levels in a person with CKD. They also suggest that a person with CKD should take vitamin B12 supplements if necessary to help improve their clinical outcomes.

Older studies suggest that taking vitamin B supplements may be harmful for people with very poor kidney function. A person with CKD should always speak with their doctor before they take vitamin B12 supplements.

One older study looked at the effects of vitamin B supplements on diabetes. It concluded that high doses of vitamin B supplements might speed up the progress of kidney damage in people living with diabetes. The study also stated that high doses of vitamin D could also increase a person’s risk of certain vascular complications.

Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin. Some people refer to folate as vitamin B9. People with CKD may develop a folate deficiency, which can lead to a number of complications, including premature cell death.

People who have CKD and a folate deficiency may wish to take folate supplements to help treat their deficiency. Folate supplements can also help a person with CKD treat anemia.

Homocysteine is an amino acid that interacts with B vitamins to make certain proteins that the body needs. Vitamin B12 and folate break homocysteine down. If a person has high levels of homocysteine in their blood, they may have a condition known as hyperhomocysteinemia.

People with hyperhomocysteinemia have a higher risk of developing CKD. Hyperhomocysteinemia can also increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases in people with CKD.

Studies suggest that folic acid supplementation, with or without other B vitamins, may be effective for people with CKD. However, further trials are necessary to determine how effective this treatment is.

A person with CKD may wish to speak with a dietician and undergo medical nutrition therapy (MNT). MNT is a form of counseling that a dietician carries out to help a person meet their medical or health goals.

MNT can help a person with CKD to:

  • slow the progression of their disease
  • prevent complications
  • improve quality of life

Supplements to avoid

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases states that a person with CKD may wish to limit the amount of certain nutrients they consume.

These include:

  • Phosphorus: CKD can cause damage to kidneys, making them less able to filter phosphorus from the blood. This may lead to high levels building up in the blood. High levels of phosphorus can cause bones to become weaker.
  • Sodium: Sodium is a mineral present in salt. Too much sodium in the diet can cause blood to hold onto fluids, which may lead to high blood pressure. This can also put stress on a person’s kidneys.
  • Potassium: CKD can make it difficult for the kidneys to filter potassium out of the blood. High levels of potassium may lead to complications with the muscles and heart.

Lifestyle changes

A person with CKD may also wish to make the following lifestyle changes to help protect their kidneys from more damage. These lifestyle changes include:

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin. It can help treat anemia, which is a common complication of chronic kidney disease (CKD). A vitamin B12 deficiency is also a common complication of CKD. Vitamin B12 supplements can help a person treat this deficiency and may also help improve the clinical outcomes of people with CKD.

A person with CKD may wish to avoid supplements that contain sodium, phosphorus, and potassium. This is because CKD can cause damage to kidneys, making them less able to filter these substances from the blood, which may lead to certain health complications.

As such, it is advisable for a person to consult a doctor before taking any supplements.