Are You "Kidney" Me?

Published in Winter 2017

Did you know that your kidneys play an important role in keeping your body functioning properly? Nephrologist Daphne Knicely, M.D., offers the top five jobs healthy kidneys perform.

1. Remove waste and extra fluid.

The kidneys act like a high-powered filter for about 120 to 150 quarts of blood each day to make one to two quarts of urine. This prevents buildup of waste products and fluid to keep your body healthy.

2. Control blood pressure.

Kidneys maintain blood pressure by managing the volume of blood in the body. When there is too much blood in the body or the blood flow to the kidneys is reduced, it can cause high blood pressure.

3. Make red blood cells.

Healthy kidneys produce a hormone that prompts the bone marrow to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body. Having a low number of red blood cells can result in anemia or other blood disorders.

4. Keep bones healthy.

The kidneys make an active form of vitamin D, which absorbs calcium and phosphorous—important minerals for making bones strong. The kidneys also balance the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the body.

5. Control pH levels.

The foods you eat can either increase or decrease the amount of acid in your body. Your kidneys balance the pH (measure of acids and bases) by either removing or adjusting the right amounts of acid and buffering agents.