Most people know that the primary function of the kidneys is to eliminate waste products from the body by flushing them out with urine. However, did you know that there are at least 6 other fabulous functions you should thank your kidneys for?
An easy way to memorize the 7 different roles that the kidneys play in human health, medical students all around the world often use a simple and funny mnemonic formula: A WET BED.
A WET BED, that helps one remember kidney functions:
- A Maintenance of Acid-Base Balance
- W Maintenance of Water Balance
- E Erythropoeisis
- T Removal of Toxins
- B Control of Blood Pressure
- E Balance of Electrolytes
- D Metabolism of vitamin D
A-Acid Base Balance
The kidneys play an important role in maintaining acid-base homeostasis by regulating the pH of the blood plasma. The kidneys have two very important roles in maintaining the acid-base balance: to reabsorb bicarbonate from urine, and to excrete hydrogen ions into urine.
The kidneys are slower to compensate than the lungs, but renal physiology has several powerful mechanisms to control pH by the excretion of excess acid or base.
The major homeostatic control point for maintaining a stable balance is renal excretion.
By removing just the right amount of excess fluid (water), healthy kidneys maintain what is called the body’s fluid balance.The kidneys maintain proportions by balancing the amount of fluid (water) that leaves the body against the amount entering the body.
Healthy kidneys produce a hormone known as erythropoeitin (EPO), which is carried in the blood to the bone marrow where it stimulates the production of red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen throughout the body. Without enough healthy red blood cells you develop anemia, a condition which makes you feel weak, cold, tired, and short of breath.
The kidneys remove wastes and excess water (fluid) collected by, and carried in, the blood as it flows through the body.About 190 liters (335 pints) of blood enter the kidneys every day via the renal arteries.
Millions of tiny filters, called glomeruli, inside the kidneys separate wastes and water from the blood.The kidneys automatically remove the right amount of salt and other minerals from the blood to leave just the quantities the body needs.
The cleansed blood returns to the heart and recirculates through the body. Excess wastes and fluid leave the kidneys in the form of urine.
B-Blood Pressure Control
Healthy kidneys make hormones such as renin and angiotensin. These hormones regulate how much sodium (salt) and fluid the body keeps, and how well the blood vessels can expand and contract. This, in turn, helps control blood pressure. They do this by regulating the amount of water in the body and the width of the arteries.
The kidneys help maintain electrolyte concentrations by filtering electrolytes from blood, returning some electrolytes to the blood, and excreting any excess into the urine. Thus, the kidneys help maintain a balance between daily consumption and excretion.
D-Vitamin D Activation
Healthy kidneys keep bones strong by producing the hormone calcitriol. Calcitriol maintains the right levels of calcium and phosphate in the blood and bones. Calcium and phosphate balance are important to keep bones healthy.