Learn more and get your questions answered in a no-cost kidney education class.
By DaVita® Dietitian Chien-Wei Kung, RD
“got milk?®” This phrase
---developed by the California Milk Processor Board ---became one of the most recognized slogans in advertising history. The campaign features numerous celebrities and cultural icons crediting milk for their strong bones and muscle health.
Yet people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have to limit dairy products in their kidney diet. High levels of phosphorus, potassium and calcium in something like low-fat milk are not good for someone on a kidney diet.
Bones are mostly made of calcium and phosphorus. When kidneys function well, they are able to keep these two minerals in balance in the blood and bones. However, kidney disease causes this process to become dysfunctional:
Despite milk’s calcium content, its high phosphorus content may actually weaken bones.
There is calcium in both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis (PD) solutions, so patients receive some of their daily calcium requirements with their dialysis treatments. Some phosphate binders also contain calcium. Therefore, it is unusual for a dialysis patient to get insufficient amounts of calcium.
Yes. Soy milk and nondairy creamer can be found in most grocery stores, while products such as rice milk and almond milk have also gained in popularity. However, some of these products do contain significant amounts of potassium and/or phosphorus, so it’s important to check labels.
Consider calcium, phosphorus, potassium and protein content when choosing a milk alternative. Your dietitian can help you determine which milk alternative is right for your diet. Unfortunately, only calcium and protein are usually listed on food labels. The ingredient list often gives clues to help when selecting a milk alternative. Products with phosphate additives or fortified with calcium would not be the best choices.
Be aware that product formulas can change. One brand of soy milk that is low in phosphorus may be fortified with phosphorus the following year. Even within the same brands, different flavors can have varied amounts of phosphorus, calcium and potassium. It often helps to contact the company directly to get the most current nutritional information. Here are some milk alternatives that people with kidney disease may consider using in their diets:
Here are some yummy DaVita.com recipes to choose from:
And all of these recipes can be saved on DaVita Diet Helper™, an online tool that helps you manage your kidney diet.
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