Dairy and Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease, or CKD, is characterized by the kidneys’ loss of ability to operate and eliminate toxins from the body. If the issue is severe enough, our bodies may accumulate waste fluids. To stop the problem from worsening, those with it must adhere to a good diet plan and avoid specific products. For instance, since calcium and phosphorus are bad for their kidneys, CKD sufferers cannot take excessive dairy products. We also know, however, that milk is excellent for the growth of our bones.

Dairy products should be avoided following a renal diet since they are high in protein, phosphate, and potassium. Despite milk having a high calcium level, persons with kidney illness may have weaker bones due to phosphorus in milk.

The current article will discuss all the milk substitutes a CKD patient can include in his diet.

Dairy Products and our Kidneys

  • The majority of people would reply that they consume milk or other dairy products daily, if not more when asked about their daily dietary intake of dairy products. Some of the preferred dairy items among both young and elderly are milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurts, pudding, and ice cream. Natural sources of protein, B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium abound in dairy products. These nutrients are all necessary for the various bodily processes that take place.
  • Healthy kidneys aid in the elimination of waste materials and surplus fluid from the circulation as well as the regulation of the body’s salt and mineral levels. Dairy consumption may need to be restricted when kidney function deteriorates because excessive amounts of fluid, salt, and minerals, as well as protein waste products, can build up in the body.
  • Those with impaired kidney function will better grasp the value of restricting dairy foods if they take a closer look at these essential components in dairy foods.


  • Protein is abundant in dairy products. Our internal organs and muscles both benefit from protein. Protein also aids in wound healing and infection prevention.
  • We require protein sources in our diet regularly. Therefore it’s critical to strike the correct balance between protein from animal and plant sources if you must restrict protein intake because of impaired kidney function.
  • Lean red meats, poultry, eggs, almonds, dried beans, lentils, and dairy products are a few examples.
  • Sources of protein could have more potassium and phosphorus.
  • Your dietitian and nephrologist will monitor the amounts of these minerals in your blood.


  • The majority of the calcium in our diet comes from dairy products.
  • Calcium is essential for maintaining healthy bones, teeth, and muscles and for some blood clotting, neuron, and muscle contraction functions.
  • Your calcium intake may be lower if you need to limit dairy products owing to impaired kidney function.
  • You may frequently consume enough calcium with a well-balanced diet of protein, healthy grains, some fruits and vegetables, and a modest quantity of dairy.
  • If you require a calcium supplement, your doctor or dietician will advise you on the best kind and dosage.


  • The mineral phosphorus, which is present in a wide variety of foods, is crucial for the development of bones and teeth.
  • It significantly impacts how the body burns fat and carbs for energy. It facilitates the body’s utilization of protein for the development, upkeep, and healing of cells and tissues.
  • Healthy kidneys remove extra phosphorus that the body does not use every day. You may need to restrict your intake of foods high in phosphorus if you have impaired kidney function to limit the amount of phosphorus that enters your bloodstream.
  • Your bones may lose calcium due to high blood phosphorus levels, becoming brittle and weakened.
  • Blood vessels can become “hardened” due to calcium loss from bones building up in the blood vessels.
  • Because dairy products contain more phosphorus than other foods, your doctor or nephrologist may advise limiting your intake to one serving per day.
  • Phosphorus is removed from the body through the stool by phosphate-binding medications, which assist in “bind up” phosphorus from food while it is still in the stomach.


  • The majority of dairy products, as well as many other foods like several fruits and vegetables, nuts, chocolate, and some salt replacements, are high in potassium.
  • Potassium aids in the control of the heartbeat and the contraction of muscles.
  • When kidney function declines, potassium levels in the blood might increase, leading to heart and muscle issues.
  • Therefore, reducing your consumption of dairy products may be essential to manage your body’s potassium levels.
  • Newer potassium-binding medications are available, but your healthcare provider will determine if they are the best option for you.

B vitamins

  • B vitamins are a family of eight vitamins that support healthy cells and tissues and the body’s ability to manufacture energy from the foods we eat.
  • Milk products include many B vitamins, including B12, thiamine, and riboflavin.
  • The complete recommended daily intake of B12 for most age groups is found in an 8-ounce glass of milk.
  • As a result, some B vitamin deficiencies, particularly with vitamin B12, maybe a worry when milk and other dairy products must be restricted from the diet.
  • If you consume little dairy, your doctor may advise you to take a vitamin B complex supplement to help make up for any B vitamins you might be lacking.

Is Milk Good For Kidney Disease?

The main components of bones are calcium and phosphorus. Healthy kidneys may maintain these two minerals in equilibrium in the blood and bones. However, renal illness renders this procedure ineffective:

  • Blood phosphorous levels rise excessively.
  • Vitamin D is no longer activated by the kidneys, which impacts how well calcium may be absorbed from the diet.
  • Low blood calcium levels cause the bones to leak calcium and phosphorus, gradually weakening them.

Blood calcium levels drop due to increased phosphorus combined with calcium to form calcifications in other body parts.

  • Despite milk’s high phosphorus level, which may potentially damage bones, milk has a high calcium concentration.
  • The food category known as dairy includes milk. It is a well-known excellent calcium source.
  • Additionally, it contains potassium and phosphorus. Some believe milk is bad for kidneys since it makes it more challenging to manage potassium or phosphorus due to worries about these nutrients.

It’s critical to understand that every person has unique nutritional requirements. For those who have the chronic renal illness, this is very crucial.

Why should people with chronic renal disease consume less milk?

The main problem with milk and chronic renal disease is that it contains a lot of potassium and phosphorus, especially in cow’s milk. Your kidneys may become overworked if you consume a lot of these minerals. Both of them are also abundant in some plant-based milk.

Phosphorus is frequently added to dairy products and alternatives because it is a necessary ingredient.

Limiting your dairy consumption is wise if you have been told to follow a low-protein diet. You won’t have to stop drinking milk completely, but you must limit your intake.

  • Protein

    • Many renal disease patients who are not receiving dialysis need to restrict their protein intake.

    • Having too much protein can strain the kidneys, which is why this is.

    • Different amounts of protein will be present depending on the kind of milk.

  • Cow’s milk and soy milk are the milk varieties with the highest protein content.

  • Oat milk and rice milk are the milk alternatives with the least protein.

  • Phosphorus

    • Both organic and inorganic forms of mineral phosphorus can be found in food.

    • In contrast to inorganic phosphorus, which is added to food, organic phosphorus indicates it occurs naturally.

    • Because it is an animal product, cow’s milk and milk products include organic phosphorus.

They could also contain additives that are made of inorganic phosphorus. When it comes to controlling phosphorus in the renal diet, examining the labels for phosphorus additions is crucial.

  • Potassium

  • Another source of potassium is milk. Depending on the primary component of the milk or milk replacement, various varieties of milk will contain varying quantities.

  • Cow’s milk and canned coconut milk are the milk choices with the greatest potassium content.

  • Cashew milk, rice milk, and coconut milk are the milk alternatives with the least potassium.


  • Cow’s milk is renowned for being a good calcium source, as previously noted. Some kidney disease patients need to consume less calcium in their diets, while others need more.

  • A person with calcium oxalate kidney stones illustrates someone who might require additional calcium.

  • Dialysis patients are one example of someone who might need to decrease their calcium intake.

  • Cow milk and coconut milk have the most calcium. Several calcium-fortified plant-based milk alternatives offer additional calcium.


Milk and Kidney Stones?

  • Nobody likes to endure kidney stones since they are uncomfortable. Because soy milk contains 20 mg of oxalate per cup, it is dangerous for kidney stones.
  • The amount of oxalate present in almond milk is unknown. But since almonds contain a lot of oxalates, it’s best to select a different plant-based milk.
  • Oat milk, rice milk, or coconut milk are healthier alternatives for milk when trying to avoid kidney stones.
  • Milk may be helpful for kidney stones depending on the type of kidney stones and the milk.
  • A diet with enough calcium is crucial for kidney stone prevention for calcium oxalate stones, the most prevalent kind of kidney stones.

What should I take into account while selecting a milk substitute?

  • Plant-based milk substitutes are usually preferable, but you should take the contents of sodium, calcium, potassium, and phosphate into account as well.
  • Oat, rice, macadamia, and soy milk all have nutritional profiles comparable to cow’s milk. They are, therefore, unlikely to be suitable replacements.
  • However, if you are selecting a milk substitute for another reason, these milk offer a comparable kidney stone-preventing benefit and need to be at the top of your choice.

What kind of milk may I drink when I have a chronic renal illness?

Since coconut milk has no potassium, salt, or oxalates, it is the ideal milk substitute for renal impairment. Since macadamia milk contains far less salt than cow’s milk, it is also a wise choice.

One thing to watch out for is added phosphates, which are frequently included in dairy substitutes intended for those who eschew milk due to ethical considerations. It’s crucial to read the label and stay with milk substitute products that don’t include phosphates.

Avoid non-dairy creamers since they frequently include a lot of potassium and phosphate additives.

Alternatives to milk for those who suffer from chronic kidney disease

Plant Milk Options

  • Plant-based milk is suitable for renal disease sufferers.
  • Although you should be careful which one you pick, plant-based milk is often considered highly appropriate for those with renal problems. Dietitians often advise a plant-based diet to help you manage your salt and protein intake.
  • Again, make careful to read the labels of any milk alternatives you buy to make sure they have yet to be fortified with potassium and phosphate to resemble cow’s milk nutritionally more closely.
  1. Coconut Milk

Cow’s milk may be easily replaced in many recipes with coconut milk.

  • Since it is made from plants and naturally contains less phosphorus, this milk is not regarded as detrimental to kidneys. There are two varieties of coconut milk.
  • It has a naturally low phosphorus level because it is plant-based. For CKD patients, it is referred to as a first choice. Coconut milk typically comes in two varieties: canned and carton. Comparatively thicker and rich in potassium is canned milk. Contrarily, carton milk is thin and has less potassium, making it an excellent choice for people with CKD and even those who have had dialysis.

Due to its low potassium, sodium, and oxalate levels, experts advise coconut milk as the main option for CKD patients. Still, they also observed that macadamia milk might present another possibility (though it contains a higher sodium content than coconut milk).

  1. Almond Milk
  • It is widely used types of plant milk and a need for people following a renal diet. It is excellent for renal sufferers because it is plant-based and contains less phosphate and potassium. Low levels of sugar and salt are also present. Oat milk and cashew milk are also beneficial to the kidneys. However, some of them include minerals that might be bad for the kidneys. As a result, it is crucial to read the labels before making a purchase.
  • One of the most popular plant-based milk substitutes is almond milk. Unsweetened almond milk contained: in one cup.
  • 35 caloric
  • 2.5 g fat
  • Protein 1 g
  • Potassium 180 mg
  • 68.0 mg of phosphorus Calcium 395 mg
  • Compared to the higher-potassium cow’s milk, it is regarded as low-potassium milk.
  • Compared to cow’s milk, almond milk has a relatively low phosphorus content. Due to the difficulty in absorbing phosphorus from plant sources, the milk has a low phosphorus content.
  1. Rice Milk And Soy Milk
  • Soy and rice milk is one of the first and most frequently recommended plant-based milk. It also contains just small levels of calcium and minerals with little oxalate. Compared to cow milk, they are also known to have less phosphorus, potassium, and other unhealthy elements for the kidneys.
  • Another excellent alternative for milk for renal illness is soy milk.
  • Calories 105
  • 4 g fat
  • Protein in 6 g
  • Potassium 298 mg
Back to Top