Kidney Stone Institute

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Kidney Stone Institute

Common Myths About Kidney Stones & Diet

Myth: Dietary calcium causes stones

It would seem to makes sense that if you develop kidney stones made of calcium, you should stay away from calcium in food. But this is incorrect. Studies have found that the more people avoid calcium, the more likely they are to develop stones.

Calcium and oxalate bind together in the body like magnets to form stone crystals. If calcium and oxalate meet in the urine, they can form a stone. However, if calcium and oxalate meet in the stomach, they still stick to each other but will not be absorbed into the body. This is why we treat some people with high oxalate levels in the urine with calcium supplements.

Myth: Water is the only liquid that helps prevent stones

Many people believe that only water is effective for preventing stones. This belief can be frustrating for those who don't like to drink water or have water that tastes "bad." Studies have clearly shown that drinking more of anything can reduce the occurrence of stones. This makes sense because the basis of almost anything you drink is water with additives for color and taste.

Myth: Coffee, tea and carbonated drinks cause stones

While many people believe that these drinks cause stones, studies clearly show that they do not increase the risk of stones.

Whatever potential risks may be associated with caffeine, oxalate (in some teas) or phosphoric acid (in carbonated beverages) appears to be overwhelmed by the preventive effects of the water in the drink.

The only drink that has been shown to increase risk of stones is grapefruit juice, although the reason is not well understood.

Myth: Alcohol causes stones

There is concern that the diuretic effect of alcohol may cause dehydration and be a risk for stone formation. Interestingly, in studies, beer and wine were found to significantly decrease the risk of stone formation. While it is not recommended to overindulge, moderate alcohol use will not increase the risk for stones.

Myth: Vitamin C is bad

While the body may break vitamin C down into to oxalate, normal amounts of the vitamin do not appear to impact the risk of developing kidney stones.

Get a list of references for these myths.

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