How kidneys work & why they are so important
Monday, April 01, 2019

How your kidneys work

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are located just below the rib cage, one on each side of your spine.

Each kidney contains up to a million functioning units called nephrons. When blood enters, it is filtered and the remaining fluid then passes along the tubule. Here, chemicals and water are either added to or removed from this filtered fluid according to the body's needs, the final product being the urine we excrete.

The kidneys perform their life-sustaining job of filtering and returning to the bloodstream about 200 quarts of fluid every 24 hours. About two quarts are removed from the body in the form of urine, and about 198 quarts are recovered. The urine we excrete has been stored in the bladder for anywhere from 1 to 8 hours.

Why are the kidneys so important?

The production of urine involves highly complex steps of excretion and re-absorption. This process is necessary to maintain a stable balance of body chemicals.

The critical regulation of the body's salt, potassium and acid content is performed by the kidneys.

The kidneys also produce hormones that affect the function of other organs. For example, a hormone produced by the kidneys stimulates red blood cell production. Other hormones produced by the kidneys help regulate blood pressure and control calcium metabolism.

Healthy kidneys filter about a half cup of blood every minute, removing wastes and extra water to make urine. 

Jobs the kidneys do:

Your kidneys do some important jobs to keep your body healthy. They:

  • Balance your body fluids. Excess fluid is filtered out of your blood, and it leaves your body as urine. Your kidneys make about one to two quarts of urine a day
  • Regulate body water and important minerals in your blood, such as sodium, potassium, phosphorus and calcium
  • Remove waste products from your blood. These waste products come from the breakdown of foods you eat and from normal muscle activity
  • Remove drugs and toxins from your body
  • Release hormones into your blood, which control blood pressure, make red blood cells and keep your bones healthy
  • Produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones

For more information call to your local CarePlus Pharmacy 

*Information adapted from the National Kidney Foundation website.