Should Vitamin E Be Part Of A CKD Treatment Plan?

Recent research has shown that Vitamin E has the capacity to prevent the buildup of calcium in the blood vessels of CKD patients, which is a common problem. Apart from being a cause of kidney failure and high BP, calcium build up could also be a resultant effect of high-fat foods and the impact of Vitamin E is what researchers set out to ascertain.

The majority of Western diets are low in fiber and high in fat and sodium. It is common knowledge that French fries and burgers aren’t the most nutritious items on the fast food menu; however, they are difficult to avoid. The modern fast paced lifestyle has resulted in an increased consumption of these high fat foods and as such, a resultant effect of this has been the persistently increasing health problem of kidney disease in western nations and developing countries.

Numerous kidney disorders have been associated with poor exercise habits and high-fat diets, some of which are type 2 diabetes, hypertension and CKD. Vascular calcification is usually the leading cause of death in these patients. This condition refers to the inability of the body to regulate calcium removal, thus leading to a buildup of calcium and hardening of blood vessels.

Modeling the Disease in Rats

To get a clearer understanding of how vascular calcification can be prevented in humans, researchers have been looking to understand how it works in rats. A paper published in BMC Nephrology noted how scientists observed how high fat diets influenced calcification as well as whether or not vitamin supplements can make a difference.

For this study, 32 rats were either fed high fat or normal diets for 45 days before removing 80% of their kidney tissues to mimic kidney failure. It was observed that a significantly higher blood glucose and cholesterol level was observed in the rats that were on high-fat diets as well as a substantial calcification in their blood vessels, lungs and stomach. The initial plan was for the scientists to observe the rats for 28 days after surgery, however, the dramatic vascular calcification caused a rapid deterioration and for humane reasons, they had to terminate the study after only 14 days.

The Vitamin E Difference

Even the researchers weren’t expecting the rapid reaction they got from the rats that were fed high fat diets however; the study also had its benefit. They discovered that supplementing the high fat diets with vitamin E could reverse –at least partially – the vascular calcification. It was observed that the vascular calcification was reduced by 57% when the high fat diets were substituted with 300mg of vitamin E per day, which is the highest quantity of vitamin E considered healthy for humans. The calcification levels were still twice as much as those present in rats fed normal diets however; it was observed that their kidney function was slightly improved by Vitamin E.

At this point, it is impossible to say for sure if the same effect can be achieved in humans however, the team is hopeful. That said, it is clear that high fat foods should be avoided as much as possible, especially by people who have any form of kidney disease.

Aside from Vitamin E, there are many other nutrients that can help your kidney health. Visit our vitamin section on our articles page for more information.

Reference: Rios, R., Raya, A.I., Pineda, C., Rodriguez, M., Lopez, I. and Aguilera-Tejero, E. (2017). Vitamin E protects against extra skeletal calcification in uremic rats fed high fat diets. BMC Nephrology.