Study shows taking calcium supplements may increase kidney stone recurrence

By Rebecca Burton • Published: January 11th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

A calcium-rich diet can help you maintain strong bones as well as a healthy heart and nerves. Calcium found in the foods you eat also provides protection against kidney stones.

However, a study conducted by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine found that taking calcium supplements may have the opposite effect of dietary calcium on the body, increasing the recurrence of kidney stone growth.

To conduct the study, authors analyzed data from 2,000 patients who were prone to kidney stones. Of the participants, most were given calcium supplements, some were given vitamin D only and a few received no supplements.

According to the results, participants who took calcium supplements had a faster rate of kidney stone growth. However, these patients’ urine levels consisted of a lower total amount of calcium and oxalate, which are components of kidney stones. This suggests that the reason behind the higher growth rate is not straightforward.

Patients taking vitamin D supplements showed decreased stone growth, which experts say may translate to a lower risk of stone formation. The authors concluded that while calcium supplements do provide many health benefits, it’s better to get your calcium from food if you want to lessen your risk of getting kidney stones.

Here are a few suggestions to keep kidney stones at bay: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, lower salt and animal protein intake and eat fewer oxalate-rich foods, such as nuts and soy products.

Kidney stone symptoms may not occur until the stone moves in the kidney or into the ureter, the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder. Symptoms include severe pain in the side and back, painful urination, fever and chills.

If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms, be sure to see a doctor.