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Can Eating Too Much Protein Affect Your Kidneys?

author image Nina K.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by,, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.
Can Eating Too Much Protein Affect Your Kidneys?
Group of men grilling chicken on the grill. Photo Credit: ShotShare/iStock/Getty Images

While no major studies link high protein intake to kidney disease in healthy people, excess protein does force your kidneys to work harder and can cause problems for people with existing medical conditions. Kidney disease aside, the healthiest diet is a varied one that contains a balance of nutrients. Women only need about 46 grams of protein per day, while men need about 56 grams -- but most Americans consume more, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Protein and Kidneys

Dietary protein contains nitrogen products, which the kidneys must expel. Eating too much protein can overwork these organs, contributing to existing disease. In a study of women published in the "Annals of Internal Medicine" in 2003, participants with mild kidney impairment saw increased damage with high protein intake, particularly after eating meat. Those with full kidney function, however, did not show signs of disease even with high protein consumption. According to the UCLA Student Nutrition and Body Image Awareness Campaign, excess protein may be especially risky for people with diabetes.

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