In a previous My Pet Nutritionist blog we looked at the function of the urinary system; if you missed it, you can check it out!
As you will know, any system that is compromised, results in a range of signs and symptoms. Kidney disease or compromise ideally needs the support of knowledgeable practitioner, but there are many of us who simply want to get our pets off to the best start and support their health before things go rogue.
So, we thought we’d do a one stop shop of nutrients that are particularly helpful for supporting general kidney health.
Along with vitamin C, the B vits are water soluble and there are eight of them:
These vitamins are involved in many functions as they help a variety of enzymes do their jobs – they help release energy from macronutrients and they help transport oxygen and energy containing nutrients around the body.
B1 is involved in energy metabolism – it helps our dogs turn what they eat into energy. It also plays a role in nervous system function. In addition is helps metabolise certain neurotransmitters which as we know are chemical messages that are sent between the body and brain! Finally, B1 is involved in the synthesis of collagen and other proteins which contributes to structural health and wound healing.
B2 or riboflavin is involved in energy production, and it is a cofactor of the master antioxidant glutathione, therefore adequate intake is essential to antioxidant capacities.
B3 is necessary in the biosynthesis of fatty acids and also in energy production. It is essential for skin health, mucous membrane integrity and digestive and nervous system health. In addition, B3 is involved in DNA replication and repair, blood sugar regulation and also functions as an antioxidant.
B5 is involved in energy production, the synthesis of fatty acids, cholesterol, steroid hormones and also vitamins A and D. It is essential in protein and amino acid synthesis along with the formation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which is the chief of the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and digest side of the stress response).
Vitamin B6 plays a vital role in the production of protein compounds (like haemoglobin), cells of the immune system, hormones, neurotransmitters, RNA, DNA and many enzymes. It is also involved in the manufacture of prostaglandins, which are produced at the site of injury or infection, largely controlling the inflammatory response.
Vitamin B6 also activates the release of glycogen from the liver and muscles, for this reason it is essential to physical activity (and gets depleted in times of high demand). It also helps balance sodium and potassium which in turn, regulates bodily fluids and promotes the normal functioning of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.
Known as Vitamin H, for Haar and Haut (hair and skin), we know it more commonly as vitamin B7, or Biotin. This vitamin too helps the body convert food into energy; specifically, biotin is involved in gluconeogenesis, which as we know is the synthesis of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources. Biotin is also involved in fatty acid synthesis, which is important in energy metabolism but also key in skin health. Deficiency of biotin has been associated with immune depression and reduced collagen synthesis.
Of interest, the use of antibiotics decreases the bacterial population of the large intestine which increase the dietary requirement for biotin. Rancid fats also inactive biotin along with chlorine.
Good dietary sources of B7 include liver, eggs, salmon, sardines, mushrooms.
B9 is essential in growing and dividing cells. A lack of folate has the most impact on those rapidly dividing cells like those in the digestive system, the genital tract and of course red blood cells. B9 is key in the synthesis of structural and functional proteins, and the formation of the master antioxidant, glutathione, is indirectly dependent on folate.
And finally, vitamin B12 is essential for DNA and RNA synthesis and for cellular energy production. All cells in all bodies need to know what they are doing, and they need energy to do them; B12 ensures this occurs.
There are no known naturally occurring bioactive forms of B12 in plant sources. This is because B12 is synthesised by the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of animals, and then absorbed by the host animals. B12 is concentrated in their tissues, which is then eaten by other animals. Sources of B12 include red meat, fish, dairy, and eggs.
You can ensure a fresh food diet, rich in these B Vitamins, or with the guidance of a practitioner, consider supplementation in methylated form.
Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10) is an essential compound of the body which is synthesized in the mitochondrial inner membrane. It has many important functions in the body.
Firstly, it can be named the key-component of electron transport chain in mitochondria necessary for ATP production and secondly, it can act as an intercellular antioxidant.
In the body, COQ10 is found in all systems of organs. The highest concentration of ubiquinone is noted in the tissues of the heart, liver, muscles and you guessed it, kidneys!
In poor kidney function, levels of COQ10 are often depressed, and much research has indicated that COQ10 may have favourable effects on cardiac function, glucose metabolism, lipid profiles, inflammation and oxidative stress in patients with non-dialysis chronic kidney disease.
Cordyceps cicadae, a caterpillar-shaped medicinal mushroom that derives its nutrients from larvae of Cicada flammata Dist., has been utilized in Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years. All Cordyceps species are endoparasitoids, living mainly on insects and other arthropods.
It has been well evidence that the use of cordyceps has demonstrated beneficial effects in decreasing the progression of end-stage kidney disease.
it is largely thought this is due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunostimulant properties.
But that doesn’t mean we have to wait for kidney disease to arrive to enjoy its benefits. Cordyceps mushrooms are a great addition to the bowl!
Schisandra contains many bioactive compounds, including lignans, triterpenes, phenolic acids, flavonoids, essential oils, and polysaccharides. Flavonoids and phenolic acids, which are polyphenols, display antioxidant properties which is just one of the reasons this plant has such a high potential for health effects.
The compounds found in this plant have been seen to be neuro and hepato-protective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, immunostimulant, antiviral, and anti-cancer. In addition, they play key roles in the detoxification pathways in the body. They are considered too as having cardiovascular-protective properties. It is through these roles that this plant is helpful in supporting renal function. In addition, data has suggested it is protective in cases of nephrotoxicity.
The kidneys have an important role making Vitamin D useful to the body. They convert Vitamin D into its active form. In cases of kidney compromise, Vitamin D levels can be low, but low levels are also association with the progression of chronic kidney disease.
That said, because Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, toxicity can occur if incorrectly supplemented.
For that reason, we would advocate a fresh food diet, full of nutrient rich foods, including those sources of Vitamin D, but we would also suggest testing Vitamin D levels. You can read more about Vitamin D in our blog, along with great sources to include in your dog’s diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential in supporting CKD patients. Polyunsaturated omega fatty acids can slow the decline of kidney function associated with CKD, but omega-6 fatty acids have been found to be harmful. Based on this data, the inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids can only be of benefit to general kidney health in the canine.
Please check out our ultimate guide to essential fats for the canine diet for ideas on how and what to include
This list is not exhaustive, but they are a few of our top nutrients to support general kidney health in the canine. As always, a nutrient rich, fresh food diet will give you the best shot at supporting your dog’s general health, but if you are concerned about specific issues or would like some additional help with your pet, then please check out our services.
Thanks for reading,