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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Dietary protein intake and renal function

William F Martin1, Lawrence E Armstrong2 and Nancy R Rodriguez1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA

2 Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA

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Nutrition & Metabolism 2005, 2:25  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-2-25

Published: 20 September 2005

Abstract

Recent trends in weight loss diets have led to a substantial increase in protein intake by individuals. As a result, the safety of habitually consuming dietary protein in excess of recommended intakes has been questioned. In particular, there is concern that high protein intake may promote renal damage by chronically increasing glomerular pressure and hyperfiltration. There is, however, a serious question as to whether there is significant evidence to support this relationship in healthy individuals. In fact, some studies suggest that hyperfiltration, the purported mechanism for renal damage, is a normal adaptative mechanism that occurs in response to several physiological conditions. This paper reviews the available evidence that increased dietary protein intake is a health concern in terms of the potential to initiate or promote renal disease. While protein restriction may be appropriate for treatment of existing kidney disease, we find no significant evidence for a detrimental effect of high protein intakes on kidney function in healthy persons after centuries of a high protein Western diet.