Kidney Diet Tips

Could a kidney patient double up on a multivitamin instead of taking renal vitamins?

Multivitamins or standard over-the-counter supplements are not suggested for dialysis patients as a replacement for renal vitamins for several reasons:

  • Patients with kidney failure require more folic acid. Multivitamins and standard supplements do not supply enough folic acid to meet the requirements of those with end stage renal disease.
  • All supplements that contain vitamin A are avoided in chronic kidney disease because the damaged kidneys are unable to remove it from the body. Excess vitamin A is very toxic.
  • Vitamin D in a multivitamin or standard vitamin D supplement cannot be used by the body since the damaged kidney can no longer activate it. Special activated vitamin D formulas are prescribed if needed, along with careful monitoring of calcium, phosphorus and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels.
  • Vitamin C doses above the RDA are not recommended for kidney patients because it increases risk for oxalate deposits and kidney stones. Doubling up on a multivitamin or taking additional vitamin C can easily exceed the goal for dialysis patients.
  • Cost may be higher if multiple supplements are purchased to replace renal vitamins. Many prescription plans cover the cost of renal vitamins. Some pharmacies offer generic over-the-counter brands at a lower price.
  • Why add more pills than needed? Most kidney patients already take many pills.
Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 20 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is currently the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.