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Can Certain Supplements Cause Kidney Stones?

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: June 24, 2022

Getting into the great habit of regular exercise is extremely beneficial for your health. Those in the fitness community are commendable for their dedication to their craft and the betterment of their physique. In order to properly achieve this, certain supplements, including macronutrients vitamins, and minerals are essential to fill gaps in an otherwise healthy diet. It can be extremely difficult to intake the proper amount of nutrients necessary for proper muscle synthesis, weight loss, or body transformation. Unfortunately, taking too many supplements can put you at risk of developing kidney stones.

In the following post, we will explore in detail the causal relation (if any) between the formation of kidney stones and supplement intake. We will do this first by defining what kidney stones are, how they are formed, and taking a look at some popular vitamin supplements that may affect your urinary tract.

What Are Kidney Stones?

The scientific term for kidney stones is renal calculi, with the latter word meaning calcium. This is so named because kidney stones are crystallized masses of different substances that form in your kidneys or anywhere along the urinary tract, causing an extremely painful medical condition, ranging from moderate pain to even severe pain and risk of internal injury and infection. The most common places where kidney stones are found are in the kidneys, the urethra, and the bladder.

Kidney stones are formed in different ways and from different causes altogether. They are made up of different kinds of substances, ranging from most common to least common. Below we will take a look at all the ways kidney stones can form along your urinary tract.

How Are Kidney Stones Formed?

Kidney stones quite literally, stones. They are crystallized masses of minerals that get stuck along the urinary tract, making it difficult to eliminate urine and painful injury along the track itself, causing internal bleeding, infection, and a variety of diseases. The most common formation of crystals are:

Calcium: Calcium is the most common substance that the crystals are formed from, giving it its scientific namesake. In fact, it is not pure calcium, but the compound calcium oxalate, which is a substance found in certain foods that we eat, or forms because of dehydration. Foods high in oxalates can increase your risk of creating this compound, although it is not entirely necessary to cut them out of your diet, as proper hydration and an overall healthy diet will more than make up for this substance. Things such as peanuts, fried potatoes, processed chocolate, and spinach are examples of foods that are high in oxalates.

Uric Acid: The runner-up for the most common cause of kidney stones is uric acid. Urine, by nature, is basic in nature (much like ammonia) and acts as a counterpart to neutralizing acids. This is why some doctors say it is a good idea to urinate on your leg if ever stung by a jellyfish (remember that Friends episode?). When urine becomes too acidic, it can form crystals, usually further down the urinary tract or in the bladder. This can be due to certain blood sugar-related diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, but also from overconsumption of foods high in purine (shellfish and certain meats. Vegans are not usually at risk for this type.

Struvite: Struvite is quite uncommon, as it is usually formed due to a urinary tract infection. If a UTI is caught early or even mid-way through the infection, this can be prevented with proper treatment, medication, and therapeutic care.

Cystine: Cystine is the most uncommon, as it is formed when acid leaks from the kidneys. This is a medical condition that affects 0.014% of people.

Can Vitamin D Supplements Cause Kidney Stones?

Vitamin D is essential for many of the benefits that it provides.

Vitamin D helps regulate mood, prevents a wide range of diseases, and is a generally good regulator for your body.

Most of us do not get enough of this essential vitamin, purely because most of the population cannot spend too much time indoors due to their demands at work and home. There were some inconclusive studies that were concerned with the positive correlation between vitamin D and kidney stones.

According to a recent study, there is no significant observed direct causation for vitamin D in the creation of kidney stones.

Does Zinc Cause Kidney Stones?

Zinc is a mineral that is often not a huge part of our diet. Zinc usually is added to a lacking diet via supplements, but is also found in certain shellfish, such as oysters and mussels. A study led by UC San Francisco has found that increased zinc levels can put a person at risk for the formation of kidney stones, but zinc is hard to overconsume. The study goes on to say the primary factor is lack of hydration, obesity, and the fact that sodium is an extremely popular addition to the American diet.

Vitamin C Kidney Stones Myth

Unfortunately, this is not a myth - Vitamin C does greatly increase your chances of kidney stones. Fear not, this is an essential vitamin for an immune boost and protein synthesis, and you would have to consume (regularly) 500mg of vitamin C tablets per day. To put it in perspective, only 75mg extra is needed per day, with a whopping 120mg for pregnant women to aid the development of their child's functions.

Vitamin C does greatly increase your chances of kidney stones.

FAQs

What are treatments for kidney stones?

Kidney stones are a serious medical condition and should never be treated at home. Consult your healthcare practitioner, they may prescribe medication, treatments, and operations depending on the stage.

How are kidney stones removed?

Kidney stones can be passed or removed. If the stone is relatively small, it can be (with pain and discomfort) passed from your kidneys to your bladder. Once it reaches the bladder, the pain will drastically subside and eventually be pushed (forcibly) from the urethra. If the stones are too large, surgeons may use soundwaves to destroy the clumps and then get you to pass them over time.

Can kidney stones cause blood in urine?

Kidney stones can cause blood in the urine, pain, chills, fever, vomiting, extreme back discomfort, and a burning sensation.


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