Fact or Myth: Does Vitamin C Cause Kidney Stones?

This is a MYTH.

One excruciatingly painful experience is all it takes to learn how to prevent kidney stones your primary goal in life. So it’s no wonder that you can fall prey to the inaccurate postings on some health watch sites that declare Vitamin C the enemy. You have a prime myth on your hands!

prevent kidney stonesThe United States National Institute of Health estimates that 1 in every 10 people will develop kidney stones at some point in their lifetime.

Your kidneys filter waste products out of your blood and they are flushed from your body through your urine. Some of these waste materials do not completely dissolve and become lodged in the kidneys.

Kidney stones (nephrolithiasis or renal stone disease) are hard masses that form from these small pieces of waste. There are three primary types of kidney stones.

3 Common Kidney Stone Types

  1. Calcium Oxalate Stones – this is the most common type of kidney stone diagnosed in patients. Oxalate is found naturally in many types of foods, including nuts, fruits and vegetables. Metabolic disorders can also increase your body’s levels of calcium oxalate and lead to stones.
  2. Struvite Stones – develop most often in response to a urinary tract infection (UTI) and get very big, very quickly.
  3. Uric Acid Stones – people with gout or those who tend to suffer with chronic dehydration are diagnosed with this type of kidney stone more frequently. A high-protein diet has also been linked to the formation of uric acid stones.

Doctors have not determined exactly what causes kidney stones but they are believed to form when your body chemistry – water, nutrients and minerals – is out of balance. According to the Mayo Clinic, controlling the following factors will help prevent kidney stones.

Risk Factors

    • Family history – if someone in your family gets kidney stones, your chances are higher.
    • Adulthood – kidney stones can develop at anytime but are most prevalent in the 40 and up age group.
    Dehydration – not getting enough water, especially if you live in a warmer climate or sweat a lot.
    • Diet – eating too much fat, sugar, salt or protein can lead to increased risk.
    • Obesity – high body fat percentage and a larger waist have been linked to stone formation.
    • Digestive disease or surgery – chronic bowel problems and gastric bypass affect your body’s ability to absorb and process calcium and water.

Prevention of Kidney Stones

In her book The Miracle of Magnesium, Dr. Carolyn Dean estimates that 80% of the United States population is magnesium deficient. The presence of adequate magnesium prevents calcium from bonding to oxalate and forming stones. This mineral keeps calcium in balance and plays a role in more than 300 biochemical tasks in your body.

A study from the University of Essex in the United Kingdom showed that Vitamin E-rich foods – such as sunflower seeds, asparagus, olives and corn – improved overall kidney function and may slow oxidative stress-related kidney failure.

The connection between vitamins B6 and D was evaluated in a research study conducted by the Linus Pauling Institute. Results showed that women who had sufficient amounts of these essential nutrients reduce their risk of developing kidney stones by two-thirds!

Foods abundant in vitamin B6 include tuna, garlic and tomatoes. You can increase your intake of vitamin D by eating cheese, shellfish, cream and butter.

7 Best Nutritional Choices for Healthy Kidneys
    1. Water – drinking more water is the single most important change you can make to prevent kidney stones. Urologists agree that drinking no less than 80 ounces each day is crucial to kidney and urinary health.
    2. Red Bell Peppers – a rich source of vitamins A, C, B6, folate and fiber, red peppers add bright color and powerful antioxidants to your meal.
    3. Cabbage – high in vitamins C, B6, K and folate and very high in fiber, cabbage can be eaten fresh or added to soups, stews or entrees.
    4. Cauliflower – abundant in vitamin C, folate and fiber.
    5. Cranberries & Blueberries – the acids in berries prevent bacteria from attaching to the urinary walls while the high vitamin and fiber content make them a perfect addition to a kidney-friendly diet. Fresh or dried cranberries, blueberries or strawberries can be used in salads, smoothies or eaten alone.
    6. Fish – a natural anti-inflammatory, fish pumps your body full of antioxidants while it controls inflammation. Your best choices are salmon, mackerel and tuna.
    7. Grapes – work to cleanse excess uric acid from the kidneys and liver.

Maintaining reasonable calcium levels is recommended for total body health. By itself, calcium is not the culprit. It is only when calcium bonds to oxalate – an acid found in fruits and vegetables – that kidney stones may form.

Keeping your oxalate levels low – especially if you have a history of kidney stones – is crucial. Avoiding foods such as chocolate, strawberries, spinach, nuts and coffee is important to keep your daily intake below 50mg per day and help you to prevent kidney stones.

Prevent kidney stones with a few simple adjustments to your diet…but cutting out vitamin C isn’t necessary.