Top 5 Jobs Kidneys Do

In a popular 1970 song, singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell asked, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”—a question that could have been aimed at people with kidney disease.  The kidneys play a crucial role in maintaining overall health, but are rarely appreciated until they become damaged and can no longer do their jobs.

Do you know what your kidneys do every day to keep you healthy? The answer is quite a lot. The kidneys play an important role in keeping your body functioning properly. Here are the 5 top jobs healthy kidneys perform.

1. Remove wastes and extra fluid

Your kidneys act like a filter to remove wastes and extra fluid from your body. Your kidneys filter about 200 quarts of blood each day to make about 1 to 2 quarts of urine. The urine contains wastes and extra fluid. This prevents buildup of wastes and fluid to keep your body healthy.

2. Control blood pressure

Your kidneys need pressure to work properly. Kidneys can ask for higher pressure if it seems too low, or try to lower pressure if it seems too high by controlling fluid levels and making the hormone that causes blood vessels to constrict.

3. Make red blood cells

Your kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin.  Erythropoietin tells bone marrow to make red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to supply all your body's needs. Red blood cells give you the energy you need for daily activities.

4. Keep bones healthy

The kidneys make an active form of vitamin D. You need vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus. Calcium and phosphorus are important minerals for making bones strong. The kidneys also balance calcium and phosphorus so your body has the right amount.

5. Control pH Levels

pH is a measure of acid and base. Your kidneys maintain a healthy balance of the chemicals that control acid levels. As cells break down, they make acids. The foods you eat can either increase or lower the amount of acid in your body. Your kidneys balance the pH of your body by either removing or adjusting the right amounts of acid and buffering agents.