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Dietary Calcium and Kidney Stones

Doctors used to tell their patients with kidney stones to reduce their intake of calcium, but recent research shows that restricting calcium for stone formers increases a person's chances of getting kidney stones (1,2) and osteoporosis (3).

Taking extra magnesium may prevent stones from forming (4). When you take in calcium, it binds to oxalates in food to form calcium oxalate in your intestines which pass from your body. On the other hand, when you restrict your intake of calcium, almost all the oxalate is absorbed into your bloodstream and passes out in your urine, markedly increasing your chances of forming kidney stones. Of course, we need more research, but on the basis of the latest research, people with kidney stones may not need to restrict foods that are rich sources of calcium.

Kidney stones are among the most painful conditions that affect people. The most common type of stone is made of calcium oxalate, which is formed when calcium combines with oxalates. People who are likely to suffer from oxalate kidney stones are those who have huge amounts of oxalates in their urine. Dietary oxalates are found in most vegetables, grains and beans, but it would be highly unhealthful for a person to eat a diet that is low in these foods. A recent study from Turkey shows that the venereal diseases, mycoplasma and chlamydia, can cause kidney stones (5).

1) M Liebman, WW Chai. Effect of dietary calcium on urinary oxalate excretion after oxalate loads. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 65: 5(MAY 1997):1453-1459.

2) GC Curhan, WC Willett, FE Speizer,D Spiegelman, MJ Stampfer. Comparison of dietary calcium with supplemental calcium and other nutrients as factors affecting the risk for kidney stones in women. Annals of Internal Medicine. 126: 7 (APR 1 1997):497.

3) A Trinchieri, R Nespoli, F Ostini, F Rovera, G Zanetti, E Pisani. A study of dietary calcium and other nutrients in idiopathic renal calcium stone formers with low bone mineral content. Journal of Urology 159: 3 (MAR 1998):654-657. Restricting calcium casues osteoporosis.

4) PMJR Deswart, EB Sokole, JM Wilmink. The interrelationship of calcium and magnesium absorption in idiopathic hypercalciuria and renal calcium stone disease. Journal of Urology 159: 3 (MAR 1998):669-672.

5) A Yuce, M Yucesoy, K Yucesoy, T Canda, M Fadiloglu, A Gure, N Yulug. Ureaplasma urealyticum induced urinary tract stones in rats. Urological Research 24: 6 (DEC 1996):345-348.

6) K Takei, H Ito, M Masai, T Kotake. Oral calcium supplement decreases urinary oxalate excretion in patients with enteric hyperoxaluria. Urologia Internationalis 61: 3 (1998):192-195.

Checked 8/9/05

June 1st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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