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Calcium Tips for People on Dialysis

Provided by DaVita® Dietitians

When you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), it is important that you keep the proper calcium levels in your body.  The exact amount should be determined on a case-by-case basis by your doctor, but the Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (KDOQI) recommends a range between 8.4 to 10.2 mg/dL. In order to maintain these levels, it is essential that you closely monitor your kidney diet. Some foods are naturally high in calcium while others that are not natural sources of calcium have it added to them. It is important to be aware of your calcium intake.

For people who are experiencing high calcium levels, foods naturally high in calcium should be limited, including:

  • Cheese
  • Cheese sauces
  • Cream-based soups
  • Creamy sauces
  • Ice cream
  • Italian and Mexican foods made with cheese
  • Macaroni & cheese
  • Milk
  • Pudding
  • Yogurt

Added calcium in foods

In recent years, food manufacturers have added calcium to a surprisingly wide array of food, including fruit juices, cereals and breads. Here are some important tips to avoid extra calcium:

  • Read labels so you can avoid foods that are calcium-enriched, calcium-fortified or noted as a good or excellent source of calcium.
  • Choose foods containing the least amount of calciumwhen comparing labels.
  • Look for foods stating, “Not a significant source of calcium.”
  • Look for foods that have less than 10 percent calcium on the food label under nutrition facts.

Nutritional labels list the calcium content as a percentage. Reading labels can help you identify foods that have more than 10 percent calcium and should be avoided. If you are unsure about a particular food, consult your renal dietitian. By planning your meals and grocery shopping ahead of time, you can more easily achieve healthy calcium levels in your body.

It is also important to note that portion size is a crucial factor when determining what to eat. DaVita.com has a section devoted to kidney-friendly recipes for people on dialysis and for those in the early stages of kidney disease. These recipes can help you manage your calcium levels.

In addition to the foods you eat or drink, there are several other sources of calcium:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) calcium supplements
  • OTC multivitamin/mineral supplements
  • Calcium-containing antacids, such as TUMS® and Rolaids®

Summary

Maintaining a normal calcium level in your body is essential to good health when you are on dialysis. These days, it’s not just dairy products that contain calcium, so be sure to read the nutrition information before buying or consuming any foods or other health products. As always, if you are unsure about a particular item, consult your doctor or renal dietitian.

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