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Is it better for a CKD patient to have vegetarian protein?

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  • Is it better for a CKD patient to have vegetarian protein?

    In stages 1-3 CKD, protein is restricted to 12-15% of caloric intake, which is actually what is recommended for healthy adults; however, the average American diet exceeds that amount and you may have to cut back on protein intake. According to the guidelines from the National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition, at stage 4 protein intake is limited even more, and > 50% should be high biological value protein sources, which includes meat, fish, eggs, poultry, dairy, seafood, and some soy products. With careful planning, a vegetarian diet can meet protein needs, keeping in consideration that phosphorus, potassium, and sodium in vegetarian products varies. Eggs are rated as the highest biological protein, so if included on the type of vegetarian diet followed, can easily help meet needs. Protein supplements are also an option, but be careful not to exceed protein limits. I wouldn’t say vegetarian diets are better or worse for CKD, but I work with individuals who want to follow a vegetarian diet to plan their meals so they can continue to be vegetarian if they desire.

  • #2
    OTOH, there are certain amino acids which you can ONLY get from animal proteins (or from taking amino-acid supplement pills). There is also some evidence that small amounts of animal protein will keep a failing kidney functioning longer than one where a person cuts off all animal protein. I've managed to keep myself off dialysis (latest GFR was 7) by reducing but never totally eliminating animal protein. And, when I do eat meat, I usually go for poultry.


    • #3
      That is why when following a vegetarian diet, I work with the patients to make sure they are complimenting with other items so that the amino acid profiles can be met (most common example is rice and beans). I never had a vegan patient on dialysis, which is another whole issue with needing B12, but the patients I have worked with usually still eat eggs, dairy, and sometimes fish, making it much easier to meet goals.