How common are kidney stones? Each year, more than half a million people go to emergency rooms for kidney stone problems. It is estimated that one in ten people will...
If you have kidney stones, you may need to follow a special diet plan. First, your healthcare professional will run blood and urine tests to find out what kind of risk factors you may have. Then your healthcare professional will tell you the diet changes and medical treatment you need to prevent having kidney stones come back.
A registered kidney dietitian can help you make the necessary changes in your diet plan and lifestyle.
What is a kidney stone?
A kidney stone is a hard mass that forms from crystals in the urine. For most people, natural chemicals in the urine keep stones from forming and causing problems.
Are all kidney stones the same?
No. The most common types of kidney stones are calcium stones followed by uric acid stones. Diet changes and medical treatment are individualized based on the type of stone, to prevent them from coming back.
What is the most important factor to prevent kidney stone formation?
What kind of diet plan is recommended to prevent stones?
There is no single diet plan for stone prevention. Most diet recommendations are based on stone types and individualized for each person.
1. Calcium Oxalate Stones: most common stones
Will it help or hurt to take a vitamin or mineral supplement?
The B vitamins which include thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and B12 have not been shown to be harmful to people with kidney stones. In fact, some studies have shown that B6 may actually help people with high urine oxalate. However, it is best to check with your healthcare professional or dietitian for advice on the use of vitamin C, vitamin D, fish liver oils or other mineral supplements containing calcium since some supplements can increase the chances of stone formation in some individuals.
Is there anything else to do to help prevent kidney stones?
1. It's Not “One and Done.” Passing a kidney stone is often described as one of the most painful experiences an individual will experience. Unfortunately, it's not always a one-time event. Take action NOW! Without the right medicines, diet, and fluid intake, stones can come back. Returning kidney stones could also mean there are other problems, including kidney disease.
2. When Life Hands You Kidney Stones… don't worry.
And as the saying goes, "make lemonade." It's important to consider dietary remedies alongside prescription medications.
Next time you drive past a lemonade stand, consider your kidneys. Chronic kidney stones are often treated with an alkali (less acidic) citrate, such as potassium citrate to help prevent certain stones if urine citrate is low and urine pH levels are too low (or too acidic). Citrus juices do contain citrate (citric acid), but large amounts might be needed. Also, be careful of sugar. Lemon juice concentrate (4 oz per day) mixed with water can be considered. Alkali citrate can be prescribed and is available over-the-counter. Alkali citrate can be given with a mineral(s), such as sodium, potassium or magnesium to help prevent stone formation. The aim is to increase urine citrate (for prevention of calcium stones) and increase urine pH (or make urine less acidic or more alkaline, for prevention of uric acid and cystine stones). The goal is to keep pH in balance. Speak with a doctor or other healthcare professional about which treatment options are right for you, including over-the-counter products and home remedies. People with kidney disease may need to watch their intake of sodium, potassium or other minerals, depending on the stage of kidney disease or other factors.
Diet Recommendations for Kidney Stones
- Drink plenty of fluid: 2-3 quarts/day
- This includes any type of fluid such as water, coffee and lemonade which have been shown to have a beneficial effect with the exception of grapefruit juice and soda.
- This will help produce less concentrated urine and ensure a good urine volume of at least 2.5L/day
- Limit foods with high oxalate content
- Spinach, many berries, chocolate, wheat bran, nuts, beets, tea and rhubarb should be eliminated from your diet intake
- Eat enough dietary calcium
- Three servings of dairy per day will help lower the risk of calcium stone formation. Eat with meals.
- Avoid extra calcium supplements
- Calcium supplements should be individualized by your physician and registered kidney dietitian
- Eat a moderate amount of protein
- High protein intakes will cause the kidneys to excrete more calcium therefore this may cause more stones to form in the kidney
- Avoid high salt intake
- High sodium intake increases calcium in the urine which increases the chances of developing stones
- Low salt diet is also important to control blood pressure.
- Avoid high doses of vitamin C supplements
- It is recommend to take 60mg/day of vitamin C based on the US Dietary Reference Intake
- Excess amounts of 1000mg/day or more may produce more oxalate in the body
Last updated June 2019
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© 2019 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.
Learn more about kidney stones and how to prevent them.