Renal Vitamins for People on Dialysis

Provided by DaVita® Dietitians

Why can’t I take a regular multivitamin when I have kidney disease?

If you have chronic kidney disease (CKD) and are on dialysis, you were likely told by your doctor that over-the-counter (OTC) multivitamins may not be good for your health. There are a couple main reasons why many OTC multivitamins aren’t good for people on dialysis:

  • Too much of the vitamins A, E and K—these must be limited or even avoided because levels build up in the body as the kidneys stop working.
  • Some multivitamins don’t have enough water-soluble vitamins such as C, B-complex and folic acid (folate). Water-soluble vitamins do not build up in the body and must be replaced daily. People with CKD have greater requirements for some water-soluble vitamins.

Why do I need a renal vitamin?

Your diet, kidney function, dialysis treatments and other factors can affect your vitamin needs:

  • Certain foods are limited on a kidney diet.
  • Your appetite may be poor because of your decreased kidney function.
  • Medication side effects can change how some vitamins are absorbed or can increase your daily requirement.
  • Vitamins are lost during each dialysis treatment.

It’s recommended that you take your renal vitamins every day. Try to make it a habit of taking it after your dialysis treatment and at that same time when you don’t do treatments. You can also take it before going to bed. Here are other ways to manage your renal vitamins along with other medications:

  • Get a pill organizer to divvy up pills to be certain to take the correct daily doses. An organizer that has separate sections for the days of the week and also different times of day can be helpful. For tech-savvy people, electronic versions of pill organizers may work best. To differentiate between medications and supplements, color-coded bottles can be useful too.
  • Manage medicines electronicallyby creating an electronic medication log or spreadsheet to organize medications.

Talk to your kidney healthcare team about other ways to remember taking your renal vitamins. It’s part of having a better quality of life on dialysis.