How Your Kidneys Work
The importance of your kidneys
Kidneys are a very important organ in the body whose main role is to:
- Regulate the amount of fluids in the body;
- Control the amount of waste in the blood;
- Know when to release certain minerals, hormones, and vitamins.
A healthy kidney can filter 180 liters of blood a day and thus maintain a healthy balance of water, salts, and minerals – such as sodium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus – in your blood stream.
Any change in this harmonious process may lead to systematic problems.
Fluids and waste regulation
Blood enters the kidneys through arteries that create small unique structures called nephrons. Each nephron consists of a glomerulus and a tubule which together make up the filtration unit, namely, the filtration and reabsorption of important products. The glomerulus has a thin wall that allows water to pass freely; larger molecules such as proteins cannot pass and stay in the blood. The reabsorption is conducted via a blood vessel that runs alongside the tubule and absorbs most of the water, minerals, and nutrients according to your nutritional status.
The end product of this complex process is urine.
Other roles of the kidneys
In addition to regulating fluids and waste, the kidneys also release important hormones such as activated vitamin D, renin, which controls blood pressure, and erythropoietin, which helps produce red blood cells. These hormones are vital for our everyday functioning.
Don’t forget that, ultimately, kidneys keep you alive!
Consider what you can do to protect them from future damage, and if you already suffer any kidney damage, follow your doctor’s medical recommendations to avoid further harm.