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10 Things You May Not Know About Kidney Functions

by | Health

Jun 9, 2022

The kidney is an excretory organ. It is usually a pair of bean-shaped, reddish-brown organs about the size of a fist. Your kidney sits at the posterior end of the abdomen. Functions include removing unwanted nitrogenous waste like urea and ammonia.

The kidney also helps to filter all the blood in the body. Wastes and extra fluids get out of the body in the form of urine. In this article, we offer you the most important kidney functions and things you may not know about the kidney. 

1. Excretion Of Waste Products From The Body

The kidney functions as an excretory organ. It is the primary way the body removes waste products. Your kidney takes part in eliminating metabolic waste products in the form of urine. It filters extra or unwanted substances and removes them, with incredible efficiency.

Blood flows from the heart into the kidney, and wastes get removed. Also, water, minerals, and salt regulation are necessary, as the kidney converts them into the urine. 

The bladder stores urine also. Along with the ureters and kidneys, they form a part of the urinary tract. Excretion in the kidney occurs in three phases: ultra-filtration, selective reabsorption, and hormonal secretion.

The functional unit of the kidney that carries out the excretion process is the nephron. Fun fact, each kidney contains about one million nephrons, which are the filter of the organ.

Read: 10 Healthy Habits To Prevent Macular Degeneration

2. Regulates Blood Pressure To Keep Your Healthy

The kidney plays a significant role in the regulation of blood pressure. It does this by controlling the blood’s chemical balance. When a kidney has a disease, it cannot perform duties on blood pressure regulation.

Sometimes this leads to high blood pressure, which is a serious health issue. The kidney produces a hormone called aldosterone that regulates blood pressure. It influences blood pressure by making arteries and veins compress and increase circulation.

Anything that alters blood pressure can damage the kidneys over time. Smoking, obesity, and alcohol consumption should are the habits you need to reduce. They have a severe effect on your kidney and health.

3. It Is Possible To Survive With Only One Kidney

Many people have two kidneys at birth, but you only need a kidney to survive and live a healthy life. Some people are even born with one kidney which is also known as a solitary kidney.

There are about one million, five hundred thousand blood-filtering units in each kidney. These are called nephrons. They get rid of waste products (urea) from the bloodstream as blood flows through the organs.

At least three hundred thousand nephrons are required to filter and purify the blood. And you need only a kidney to perform this function.

Read: Ten Important Functions Of The Spleen

4. Control pH Level

In humans, the pH level is supposed to be within the range of 7.38 to 7.42. Outside this range, enzymes and proteins break down and can lead to serious health issues. But thanks to the kidney that helps to stabilize the pH level of the body.

The kidney functions include regulating ions by preventing blood plasma from becoming too acidic or basic. This amazing organ also regulates the pH level using ammonia. If the fluid in the body is acidic, it eliminates more acid. 

5. Production Of An Active Form Of Vitamin D

The kidney functions as a converter of vitamin D to an active form the body can use. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin in the body that helps strengthen and develop the body’s bones.

Vitamin D, which is from exposure to sunlight, also protects against heart diseases. Hormone production occurs inside the kidney and oversees calcium concentration, etc.


6. Regulation Of Osmolarity

The kidney is the main osmoregulatory organ. Osmoregulation is the process of regulating the balance between salt and water content. It prevents extracellular fluid from getting too diluted or concentrated.

The kidney maintains the osmotic pressure of the blood through purification and extensive filtration. 

7. Too Much Salt Consumption Harms The Kidney

Eating a lot of salt can alter the mineral balance in the blood. When you take in excess salt, you make it difficult for the kidney to function. Further, a high intake of salt also increases the sodium level in the bloodstream.

Besides that, it also destroys the delicate fluid balance in the body. Hence the kidney has less ability to remove excess fluids. Over time, the more the strain, the more the damage to the kidney. When this continues for a long time, it can cause kidney failure.

If you suspect you have too much salt, stop eating out for the time being. You should also avoid eating food that comes with plenty of salt from the kitchen. 

8. The Kidneys Are Lopsided

The kidney is in the lower back, below the rib cage. They are also asymmetrical in shape. The right kidney is smaller in size than the left one and placed a little lower.

The reason for this is to ensure the availability of space for the liver’s placement. The left kidney has more room for the spleen’s placement. Your spleen is a smaller organ in the body, which plays a part in body fluid balance.

9. Drinking Too Much Water Is Not Suitable For The Kidney

To ensure that your kidney functions remain intact, you need proper hydration. Although drinking too much water can result in a condition called hyponatremia based on findings.

Hyponatremia occurs when the blood’s sodium becomes diluted due to excess fluid. As the condition worsens, it can result in cell swelling. It is not a common condition. 

Also, athletes who wear their bodies out and then drink excess water are at risk. To avoid this, men should drink about three liters (thirteen cups) of water daily. Women should take about two liters (nine cups). 

10. The Kidney Filters About Forty-Five Gallons Of Blood Daily

Though the heart pumps blood in the body, the kidney does the filtration job. The process is essential for a healthy body, making it an important kidney function. The kidney filters about half a cup of blood per minute, removing extra water and waste.

When you calculate this, it sums to about forty-five gallons of blood a day. This is enough to fill up a small bathtub. Such an amazing function is why we need to take good care of our kidneys.

Featured Photo by Jesse Orrico on Unsplash

By Sara Leandro

Sara Leandro is a certified health coach who helps others feel their best through individualized lifestyle changes that meet their unique needs and health goals.


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