Protein and Your Kidneys

By Dr. Steve Bennett


We’ve been fascinated with ketogenic diets for the past few years as a way to reduce weight. Shifting away from carbohydrates is definitely good but there is a hidden risk associated with too much protein.

In brief, our kidneys are one of the organ systems that don’t really let us know they are suffering until it’s too late (the liver is the same). So it is important to pay attention to our kidneys. On standard blood tests, we look at eGFR, BUN and creatinine to give a sense of kidney function. On the whole, if we have any reason to suspect our kidneys might be struggling, ie family history of kidney problems, history of medications that could cause kidney or liver damage, it is advisable to check further. Annual blood tests will give a cursory look at these systems, but in order to get an accurate evaluation I recommend finding a good functional medicine doctor to assist.

The main point of this post is to alert my readers to the risk of having too much protein in their diet. Protein puts stress on our kidneys and has the potential to eventually cause irreversible damage. The appropriate amount of protein in our diet is no more than 0.36 grams of protein per day for every pound of body weight. So an adult male weighing 170lbs should take in no more than about 60 grams of protein per day. A female of 130lbs should take in a bit less than 45 grams per day. I have to admit I was surprised that the bowl of turkey chili I had for dinner last night had more protein than I would have guessed, about 43 grams!

Currently many of my patients and friends are taking collagen and branched chain amino acids for skin and muscle maintenance. While these supplements are fine in is important to be aware that typical collagen and protein supplements have about 12-20 grams of protein per serving. So if you are a 125 lb person, you could be ingesting be 25-45% of your daily protein allowance in one serving of these supplements. Additional protein can be good if you struggle to get adequate protein in your diet; some elderly patients can find this to be a challenge with reduced appetite and other health considerations.

If you are looking for the benefits of collagen (skin, joints, hair, etc) but want to avoid excess protein, consider using our PQQ-10 Tripeptide Marine Collagen. It’s only 1 gram of protein per serving and it comes from a patented collagen source from warm water fish raised in a Kosher get all the benefits of marine collagen without potentially overloading your kidneys! It will be available February 1st 2020.

Dr Steve Bennett

Dr. Steven Bennett
Dr. Steve Bennett

Intuitive Nutrients

Intuitive Nutrients was started by Dr. Steven Bennett as a way to provide top quality clinical-grade nutrients for his practice, at a reasonable price. Situated in beautiful San Diego Intuitive Nutrients is locally owned and operated by Dr. Bennett, his family and team. And they are proud to dedicate a portion of Intuitive Nutrients' profits to the Surfrider Foundation and Rady Children's Hospital.

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