Albumin and your health


Albumin is the measure of total body protein

  • Albumin provides the body with the protein it needs to build muscle, repair tissues, and fight infections.
  • Albumin is found in meats, eggs, and dairy products. It is also found in plant-based sources such as tofu, beans, nuts, and seeds

What causes albumin to decrease?

  • Poor appetite: Not getting enough protein and calories in your diet can decrease albumin levels. Poor appetite can happen if you are not getting enough dialysis. Be sure to follow your dialysis prescription to feel your best.
  • Protein loss:
    • Some types of kidney disease cause protein to be lost in the urine.
    • Some protein is lost during peritoneal dialysis (PD) treatments. Also, protein loss increases in a person with a peritonitis infection. 
    • Liver disease and blood loss can cause albumin to decrease.
  • Inflammation: Inflammation can happen because of infections, wounds, gum disease, a urinary tract infection, or recent surgery.

Talk to your dietitian about your daily protein needs and preferences.

Choose from a variety of sources of protein:

  • Animal sources of protein: lean meats, chicken, egg (or egg whites), fish, shrimp, and cottage cheese.*
  • Plant-based sources of protein: beans, lentils, tofu, and nut butters*
  • Talk to your dietitian about reading food labels for sodium.
  • Talk to your dietitian about tips for creating a healthy plate.

*These foods are high in potassium. Ask your dietitian about portion sizes.

Tips for reducing inflammation and improving albumin:

  • Talk to your nurse and doctor about ways to prevent access infections and peritonitis.
  • Tell your nurse and doctor about any new wounds.
  • If you have diabetes, make sure to have routine foot checks.
  • Let your doctor and dialysis team know if you have a loss of appetite or nausea.
  • Know your adequacy result to make sure you are getting enough dialysis.
  • See your dentist for regular check-ups to prevent gum disease and other dental concerns. Be sure your dentist knows you are on dialysis.

Work with your dietitian:

  • Know your albumin goal
  • Understand your daily protein needs
  • Share your food preferences and learn about good choices that fit the way you live