A Holistic Approach…

Vitamin D and Kidney Health

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From the archives of Ditch The Meds:

Note from Nature’s Presence: this post is written on a personal level in order to convey the background for the inspiration behind Nature’s Presence.

For the past two years my mother has been having kidney problems. Her kidneys have been functioning only at 25%. The only real advice her doctors (primary care and nephrologist) have given her is to reduce her sodium intake. She understands the need to do whatever it takes to get her kidneys functioning properly so she has done a very good job at reducing her sodium intake.

What I found odd was that neither of her doctors recommended that she drink more water – you know that pure fluid that our kidneys require to flush out all those pesky toxins we ingest every single day? No, her doctor told her that drinking more water would not necessarily help get her creatinine to an ideal level.

For years we have been telling my mom that she needs to drink more water. We visibly see her dry mouth – which, she claims is a result of her medications. “All the MORE reason to drink more water,” we tell her. It was very frustrating to know that her doctor, in whom she has placed much trust, would give her this kind of information. Although she has tried to drink more water since we have explained that it is indeed important for optimal kidney function – regardless of what her doctor says – I felt like that was a huge step back in our quest to help her see where she could do something so simple to improve her health.

My mother has a tendency for stubbornness. I’ve been telling her for years that she needs to take supplements because we just don’t get the proper nutrition from the food we eat. Due to the over-processing of food as well as all the pesticides used on our “fresh” produce our food is just not very nutritious. She disagreed with me again, of course. She believes that she eats just fine, thank you very much. She’s set in her ways, what can I say?

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She’s been seeing her nephrologist every six months at which time she goes over my mother’s blood test results with her and tells her at what percentage her kidneys are functioning. I decided that I should go with her to her last appointment to hear the latest verdict. It turned out that her kidney function had dropped, yet again. I sat there listening to the doctor asking questions…and checking my mom’s legs. I watched as the nephrologist took a phone call on her cell phone during my mom’s visit. I also saw her check the phone a second time at which point I was prepared to say something to her had she taken the call. She then asked my mom again, the same question…and checked my mom’s legs for swelling…again. Had she forgotten she’d already done it? She then said that there was a note from my mom’s regular doctor that stated that her liver enzymes were high now so she wanted my mom to have another blood test and go back to see her in two months.

That was about the gist of the appointment. Had it not been for the liver count, my mom would have made an appointment for 6 months out and that would have been that. Additionally (more of an aside), her blood pressure was up. The doctor recommended that my mother have her blood pressure checked over the next couple of weeks and if it showed her blood pressure to be high, she would recommend a medication to lower it.

Meanwhile I apparently forgot that I was actually able to speak. The only useful thing that came out of my mouth was “Can I have a copy of the blood test results?” which she gave me. I got the copy and we left.

A couple of days later I started thinking, “What the heck was wrong with me? Why didn’t I say something about the phone call…or ask what her real purpose was? Was she just monitoring my mom’s creatinine levels until her kidney function got so low that she had to go on dialysis?” She had absolutely no useful information to help my mom get better. This is when I decided that I needed to take matters into my own hands. I took a copy of the blood test results to my chiropractor who had been treating my mom. I also wanted to try and figure out what was causing the kidney problems in the first place.

After looking at the blood test results, it became clear that much of the problem was likely the medication she had been on for over a decade. It is no secret that, for the most part, conventional doctors only look at whether or not levels are within the accepted range. They rarely, if ever, look at what the implications of other issues might be; it doesn’t really matter if they’re on the cusp. They also typically only look at each issue separately and not how they may contribute to the main problem or be part of the same problem.

For example, the results of her test showed that while her blood sugar was within the normal range, it was at the very low end. It was in fact, the lowest reading within the normal range. Also, the same was true for her sodium levels. Another issue that we noticed on her blood test results was a pretty major vitamin D deficiency. On top of everything, my mother was vitamin D deficient. Hello! Vitamin D is essential for life. It turned out that the doctor wasn’t completely out to lunch, she did call my mother the next day regarding the deficiency – she had apparently not noticed it (and in her defense, it wasn’t easily seen) and prescribed a very high dose of vitamin D.

The bottom line is that the doctor clearly only addressed a symptom and was not looking at the overall picture. The body is complex; common sense should tell us that issues can not be understood by looking at just one deficiency or elevated enzyme. For example, kidney disease goes hand-in-hand with diabetes – the body’s inability to regulate its sugar level, typically diagnosed by an occurrence of high blood sugar level; however, in my mom’s case, her blood sugar is LOW. This tells me that the kidney failure is a result of something else – something probably unnatural and toxic, namely certain types of supplements or medication. Because of this realization I decided to research the medications she had been on for many years – Zyprexa and Effexor.

What I found out was that, first of all, caution should be taken when prescribing these medications to individuals with kidney issues. Both medications seem to exacerbate kidney problems. In the case of Effexor, individuals with kidney problems should take no more than the minimum dose available. Apparently my mother has been taking the second to the lowest dose twice a day. The doctor appears to have dropped the ball on this one. In the case of Zyprexa, a potentially fatal symptom complex referred to as Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS) can be linked to the use of Zyprexa. Two of the symptoms of this syndrome are low blood sugar and renal failure. I am not saying this is what my mom has. In fact I’m hoping this is not it. What I am trying to point out is that these are the types of effects with which Zyprexa and Effexor are associated.

Additionally, low sodium can be linked to depression. It has been said that sodium (in the form of natural sea salt – particularly Himalayan or Celtic) is a natural antidepressant. Also, vitamin D is a natural mood enhancer. It is highly likely that the low sodium result began when the doctors recommended sodium reduction for the kidney problems; however, it would be interesting to see what her vitamin D levels have been over the years. Unfortunately, a test for vitamin D is not regularly requested by doctors, likely because of its cost. Still, it would be wise for anyone to add a test for vitamin D levels to their yearly or at least bi-yearly physical.

Ultimately what might have happened is that the depression medication caused the kidney problems or perhaps dehydration initiated the kidney problems and the depression medication exacerbated those problems. The only real nutritional recommendation, which was to reduce sodium intake, made by the doctor most likely affected my mom’s mental health further. The vitamin D deficiency also affected my mother’s mood and mental well-being in a major way. There are numerous alternatives to antidepressants for the long term treatment of depression. In fact, depression has been linked to oxidative stress in a major way and therefore reducing oxidative stress via a proper antioxidant supplement would be a viable treatment option. For more information on this up and coming and very promising solution please download my report Age Reversal: What Everyone Should Know About Oxidative Stress and Antioxidant Supplementation.

Avoiding these medications and flushing out the residual chemicals and toxins from affected kidneys could result in an improvement in kidney function. If this is correct then one would not have to be so careful in terms of sodium intake, in fact it should help the underlying problem – the depression. This information also shows the need for chucking the table (processed) salt and opting for beneficial salt (such as the Celtic or Himalayan sea salt) as well as other natural products. Additionally, considering that vitamin D is most likely lacking in patients with Chronic Kidney Disease, it is imperative that they take steps to increase vitamin D production via natural sunlight (preferred) and also vitamin D supplements in the form of cholecalciferol, the activated form of vitamin D. The reason for this is because it is the kidney’s job to convert D3 from the sun into the usable, activated form cholecalciferol. Unfortunately in those with kidney disease this function is also compromised and therefore they are likely not getting enough of the necessary vitamin.

Incidentally, a couple of other side effects of the drugs are hypertension and liver problems (remember I said the doctor wanted to monitor her blood pressure because it seemed high and that her regular doctor noted elevated liver enzymes?). All of the information on side effects has come straight from the horse’s mouth – the drug companies themselves.

To learn more about the specific side effects of Zyprexa and Effexor, read this blog: Are Antidepressants Destroying Your Organs?.

Read about methods of natural treatment for mental disorders here: Treating Mental Disorders Naturally.

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