Kidney Diet Tips

What’s in the special renal vitamins for dialysis patients?

Renal vitamins contain B vitamins and a limited dose of vitamin C to help replace losses related to dialysis in those with end stage renal disease. The B vitamins, also called the B-complex, are a combination of eight water soluble vitamins:

  • thiamin (B1)
  • riboflavin (B2)
  • niacin (B3)
  • pyridoxine (B6)
  • cobalamin (B12)
  • folate
  • pantothenic acid
  • biotin

B vitamins work to convert food into energy, metabolize amino acids, fatty acids and glucose, produce new cells and protect nerve fibers.


Folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are especially important for red blood cell production. In people with kidney failure, deficiencies result in anemia that does not improve with iron and erythropoietin (Epogen) therapy. The right balance of these three vitamins is important for dialysis patients. Taking a folic acid supplement without vitamin B12 can hide a B12 deficiency and cause permanent nerve damage. Mega doses of vitamin B6 over time can also cause nerve damage.


Vitamin C forms collagen, works as an antioxidant that protects cells from damage, helps the immune system, and is required for making many body compounds. Most renal vitamins contain 60 to 100 milligrams of vitamin C. Larger doses of vitamin C from supplements are not recommended for those with kidney failure because it increases the risk for oxalate deposits and kidney stones.

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 30 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 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.