preventing kidney stones

Nuts, seeds and whole grains are high in magnesium

While tendencies towards kidney stones are genetic – if one parent is a stone-former there is increased risk – other factors involved in preventing kidney stones include diet and nutrient deficiencies. Kidney stones are an accumulation of mineral salts that can lodge anywhere along the urinary tract.

There are three types of stones: calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate and uric acid. In eighty percent of cases, kidney stones are calcium oxide. The most common symptom is severe back pain that radiates from the back across the abdomen and into the genital area or inner thighs. This pain is also associated with nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, blood in the urine, pain on urination and sometimes chills and fever.

Dietary factors

Eating refined carbohydrates, including sugar, seems to be a major factor in the formation of stones. Sugar consumption stimulates the pancreas to release insulin, which in turn stimulates increased calcium excretion through the urine. When unbalanced by adequate calcium, consuming foods high in phosphorus such as meat and soft drinks also leads to increased calcium loss via the urine.

Avoiding foods high in oxalic acid is often recommended for preventing kidney stones, however, this link is unproven. Studies show that only 16 percent of stone-formers were found to have excess urinary oxalates.

Nutritional deficiencies

Magnesium helps dissolve oxalates in the urine and allows them to be excreted before stones are formed. Vitamin B6 is essential for the normal metabolism of oxalic acid. Deficiencies of either vitamin B6 or magnesium increase kidney stone risk. Anyone who survives on a processed food diet will almost certainly be deficient in both of these. Getting the correct balance of these essential nutrients is key to preventing kidney stones.

Both vitamin A deficiency and vitamin C deficiency may also promote stone formation. Smokers are nearly always vitamin C deficient as each cigarette destroys as much vitamin C as there is one orange. Taking supplements in their most available form is vital in keeping kidney stones under control. The quality of your vitamin supplement is also a factor in preventing kidney stones. If you are in any doubt, let me know and I can give you some personal supplements recommendations.

Cadmium toxicity

Last, but not least, cadmium. Cadmium is a trace mineral that can damage the kidneys. Exposure is associated with increased risk of kidney stones. Smokers have abnormally high levels of cadmium in their blood and therefore run a higher risk of forming stones. Cadmium can be found in drinking water, fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides and refined grains. Metalworkers, including coppersmiths are generally chronically exposed to cadmium.

If you find you are getting recurrent symptoms and would like some nutritional and supplement advice for preventing kidney stones, let me know.