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Trace Minerals in Patients with End-Stage Renal Disease


Address correspondence to: Richard K. Kasama, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, UMDNJ– Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Cooper University Hospital, 401 Haddon Avenue, Camden, NJ 08103, Tel.: 856-757-7844, Fax: 856-757-7778, or e-mail:


The kidneys are famously responsible for maintaining external balance of prevalent minerals, such as sodium, chloride, and potassium. The kidney’s role in handling trace minerals is more obscure to most nephrologists. Similarly, the impact of kidney failure on trace mineral metabolism is difficult to anticipate. The associated dietary modifications and dialysis create the potential for trace mineral deficiencies and intoxications. Indeed, there are numerous reports of dialysis-associated mishaps causing mineral intoxication, notable for the challenge of assigning causation. Equally challenging has been the recognition of mineral deficiency syndromes, amid what is often a cacophony of multiple comorbidities that vie for the attention of clinicians who care for patients with chronic kidney disease. In this paper, I review a variety of minerals, some of which are required for maintenance of normal human physiology (the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s list of essential minerals), and some that have attracted attention in the care of dialysis patients. For each mineral, I will discuss its role in normal physiology and will review reported deficiency and toxicity states. I will point out the interesting inter-relationships between several of the elements. Finally, I will address the special concerns of aluminum and magnesium as they pertain to the dialysis population.