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Kidney Function & Pomegranate Juice

by
author image Jeffrey Traister
Jeffrey Traister is a writer and filmmaker. For more than 25 years, he has covered nutrition and medicine for health-care companies and publishers, also producing digital video for websites, DVDs and commercials. Trained in digital filmmaking at The New School, Traister also holds a Master of Science in human nutrition and medicine from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Kidney Function & Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranate juice can cause kidney damage. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Pomegranate juice contains high concentrations of nutrients and may improve your blood pressure and cardiovascular function and reduce risk of certain conditions. The kidneys function to keep your blood clean and chemically balanced. Drinking pomegranate juice and taking certain medications increases your risk of kidney damage. Consult your doctor about kidney function and drinking pomegranate juice.

Kidney Function

Healthy kidneys process approximately 200 quarts of blood to sift out two quarts of waste and extra water for excretion through your urine. Your kidneys remove these wastes from blood to help your body prevent a buildup of toxins that can cause diseases and severe conditions. The kidneys regulate the balance of certain minerals and hormones, such as sodium, potassium, phosphorus, erythropoietin and calcitriol. Kidney damage causes dysfunction or failure of the kidneys to partially or completely filter the blood. Kidney disease can be serious and require dialysis or transplantation to maintain life.

Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate juice contains high concentrations of antioxidants called polyphenols, anthocyanins and tannins. In fact, the amount of antioxidants in pomegranate juice exceeds that found in most other fruit juices, red wine and green tea. Scientists at the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine in Tianjin of the People’s Republic of China found that daily consumption of pomegranate juice is superior to that of other fruit, including apples, in improving antioxidant function, according to research published in "Nutrition Research" in February 2008.

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Rhabdomyolysis

Drinking pomegranate juice while taking statin drugs may increase your risk of rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition characterized by the breakdown of muscle fibers that enter the bloodstream and are harmful to the kidneys, often resulting in kidney damage. Scientists at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut report a case of a patient being treated for high cholesterol with medications who developed rhabdomyolysis three weeks after drinking pomegranate juice, according to research published in the "American Journal of Cardiology" in September 2006. Physicians were successfully treating him for 17 months with rosuvastatin, a statin medication for treatment of high cholesterol and ezetimibe, a drug that prevents absorption of cholesterol, and he had no signs of rhabdomyolysis prior to drinking pomegranate juice. However, three weeks after drinking pomegranate juice while taking these medications, the patient had symptoms of the condition. The scientists conclude pomegranate juice interacts with certain liver enzymes that increase concentration of statins that stay in the body and in turn cause rhabdomyolysis. Symptoms of rhabdomyolysis include dark red urine, fatigue, muscle aches and joint pain. Acute kidney failure occurs in many patients with rhabdomyolysis. Early treatment of rhabdomyolysis reduces your risk of chronic kidney failure.

Considerations

Pomegranate juice is relatively safe, even if consumed daily. However, little is known regarding the risks of drinking pomegranate juice and development of rhabdomyolysis when taking medication. Nonetheless, rhabdomyolysis is associated with statin drugs. As a precaution always consult your doctor about drinking pomegranate juice when taking statins or other types of medications.

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