By Donna Swartzendruber, MSN, RN, CNN
Albumin is the most common protein found in the blood. It provides the body with the protein needed to both maintain growth and repair tissues. During a dialysis treatment, the albumin in your blood also helps with fluid removal. It helps “pull” extra fluid from swollen tissues back into the blood, where it can then be removed by the dialyzer.
Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (KDOQI) guidelines, from the National Kidney Foundation, recommend that a blood albumin level be 4.0 g/dl. or higher. That is also DaVita’s recommendation.
Foods from animals (e.g., beef, pork, fish, chicken, eggs, milk) contain the best sources of high quality protein. Lower quality protein comes from foods such as nuts, beans, vegetables and grain products. Your renal dietitian is an expert in knowing how much protein you should eat and also which foods are good sources of protein.
Some of these protein containing foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, nuts and beans may be limited in the dialysis diet because the potassium and phosphorus levels are too high for most dialysis patients to eat them on a regular basis or in normal portions.
Inflammation and infection will cause an albumin level to drop. Possible causes of infections include an infected access, an infected foot, decayed teeth or infected gums or a bladder infection. Examples of long-term inflammations include arthritis and lupu.
Other non-dietary causes of a low albumin level include:
Donna Swartzendruber, MSN, RN, CNN, is an Education Project Specialist and a member of DaVita’s Clinical Education Team.
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