Page last updated at 06:28 GMT, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Study could help kidney patients

Vitamin tablets
Study finds multi-vitamins could help kidney disease patients

Multi-vitamins could help improve the health of kidney disease patients undergoing blood dialysis, the University of Ulster has said.

It teamed up with the Western Health and Social Care Trust to investigate the effect multi-vitamins had on kidney function and nutrient status.

The study took place over three months.

The group found multi-vitamins produced an increase in folate levels and antioxidant enzymes which help the heart.

They also found there was a reduction in the production of homocysteine, "a harmful amino acid which increases the risk of cardio-vascular disease".

Dr Mary Hannon-Fletcher, from the university's School of Biomedical Sciences, who is leading the study, said: "These improvements in status could be very beneficial for haemodialysis patients who have a very restricted diet due to their kidney disease.

"In addition, having to undergo frequent dialysis removes essential antioxidants, vitamins, and trace elements, putting them at increased risk of cardiovascular disease."

Dr Mary Hannon-Fletcher
Dr Mary Hannon-Fletcher is leading the study

The research team is seeking funding to extend the pilot study to a larger number of patients for a longer period.

"We hope that this type of intervention may provide the evidence base required to introduce this type of regime into clinical care in haemodialysis patients in Northern Ireland," Dr Hannon-Fletcher said.

The university said it found that the multi-vitamins produced an increase in folate levels, which it noted was a B vitamin important for a healthy heart.

They also produced an increase in antioxidant enzymes, "which remove or limit oxidative damage, helping protect membranes, including that of the heart".

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