The Low Down on Kidney Stones

Calcium supplements themselves have an important purpose to play in reducing your risk of bone thinning, but it's imperative to take them with a healthy meal and follow some a few dietary suggestions to help reduce the risk of kidney stone formation.

Kidney stones are known to form when calcium oxalate crystallizes in high concentrated urine. Oxalates are organic chemicals naturally found in many foods which combine with calcium to result in calcium oxalate. Calcium oxalate are found in foods such as beets, miso, and nuts, and are known not to be soluble.

When kidney stones get released out of the body they can result in the following painful symptoms:

  • - Nausea
  • - Fever
  • - Difficulty in urinating
  • - Blood in urine
  • - Pain in the groin, lower back and flank.
  • - How to avoid kidney stones

Drinking an adequate amount of fluids each day dilutes the urine and can reduce the chances of crystallization of the oxalates in your system.

When eating, it’s also important to limit foods that contain oxalates. By avoiding these foods it minimizes the effect of calcium forming into calcium oxalate that results in kidney stones.

It's estimated that 12% of Americans are affected by kidney stones each year and about 90% of those kidney stones are a result of excess calcium oxalates.

Kidney Stone Research

It was first thought that kidney stones were caused by high consumption of calcium. One study even recommended restriction of calcium for patients who were thought to be at high risk of developing kidney stones.

A more recent study conducted by Harvard Medical School, Brigham, and Women’s hospital suggested that limiting calcium intake was not proper. Their wide ranging study of 90,000 women showed that most women with a high consumption of calcium were, in fact, not at risk for developing kidney stones. Through this study, it showed that calcium guards itself by combining with oxalates in the gut and swiftly eliminated with fecal matter. This process limits the body's absorption of calcium oxalates, which in turn reduces the possible development of kidney stones.

In another study that was done, it suggested that high calcium consumption resulted in a decrease in the risk of kidney stones. The study concluded that people who consumed less than 850 mg calcium each day were at a high risk of getting kidney stones.

One more notable study conducted involving nurses suggests that if you consume more foods high in calcium, you are at low risk of getting kidney stones. This research was gathered over the course of twelve years with 91,731 participants. All participants were nurses aged 34 to 59 years and with no history of kidney stones. During the study, 864 of the nurses developed kidney stones for the very first time. The higher their calcium intake, the lower their chances became of developing kidney stones. On the other hand, those nurses who ate high amounts of food containing calcium and also took calcium supplements had a 20% higher risk of developing kidney stones than normal.

Through this study it said that most nurses were at a higher risk of developing kidney stones because they were not taking the supplements with a meal. It's important to note that the meal you are ingesting with the calcium supplement should be oxalate-free. Following this specific regimen safeguards against calcium combining with oxalates in the intestines, thus reducing the risk of kidney stone formation.

Prevent Kidney Stones

If you have a history of kidney stones, there are a number of things you can do to aid your body in the proper elimination of calcium and oxalates. Try to avoid caffeine and reduce salt intake, both of which can increase the amount of calcium in the urine. Also, limit your consumption of animal protein which increases risk of developing kidney stones.

Final Thoughts

It’s therefore important to note that taking calcium supplements or food rich in calcium alone does not result in increased chances of kidney stones. In fact, to reduce your risk of developing kidney stones it’s good to have adequate dietary calcium, just make sure to take the supplement with a meal that is low in oxalates.