Calcium Oxalate Kidney Stones
What Every Vegan Should Know
Calcium oxalate kidney stones afflict almost one million Americans each year, and may be of particular concern for vegans. As the name suggests, calcium oxalate stones are a combination of calcium and oxalates.
Oxalates are organic acids that are present in all living organisms. Sometimes the body will make oxalate if there is an excess of certain substances like Vitamn C present. Mostly however, it is present in many of the plant-based foods that form the basis of the vegan diet.
The problem with oxalate is that it is toxic to the body and can be disruptive to normal functioning. Most of the time, oxalate that is ingested with plant-based foods remains in the digestive tract and is excreted in the stool without causing any trouble.
In some people, however, oxalate can be abosrbed into the system through the intestinal wall and start causing problems, the most common of which occurs when it binds with calcium to form calcium oxalate kidney stones. The exact mechanism of stone creation is the subject of ongoing research, but what is known for sure is that when dietary oxalate binds with dietary calcium, not do kidney stones form, but the calcium then becomes unavailable to the body.
Interestingly, dairy, despite all its other nutritional problems, can be helpful in terms of preventing the absorption of oxalate. This is because the calcium in dairy is actually pretty indigestible. The calcium stays in the digestive tract, and can therefore bind with oxalate and prevent it from being absorbed into the body.
Of course, given all the horrendous health issues that dairy causes, using it to control oxalate is obviously not a good solution. However, when vegans eliminate dairy from their diets, they are eliminating a source of indigestible calcium and may then be prone to higher oxalate absorption.
Solution? If you have suffered from calcium oxalate kidney stones as a vegan, then you need to deal with both the calcium and the oxalate issues. A supplement of calcium citrate taken with meals will provide the calcium for binding with any oxalates from that food in the digestive tract, thus preventing absorption and reducing oxalate levels in the kidneys.
Calcium citrate is preferable to calcium carbonate, as it is more soluble, more bioavailable, and doesn't mess with stomach acid pH levels.
But What About Bone Health?
You may be wondering at this point, "If the calcium is bound up with the oxalate and excreted to prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones then how will I get the calcium my body needs?" This is where angstrom sized calcium comes in.
An angstrom is an extremely small measurement of length. So small in fact that it is used to describe the size of atoms and molecules! There is a calcium supplement that contains angstrom-sized ions of calcium in a liquid form. These ions absorb immediately into the body through either the inside of the mouth or the upper stomach and can therefore be directly available to your bones. The one I take is made by Mineralife Minerals and can be found at Amazon.
The Best Solution
So if you are a vegan, the best way to avoid calcium oxalate kidney stones and still insure that your bones get the calcium they need, is to take both the calcium citrate with meals, and the angstrom calcium once or twice a day. The Mineralife calcium is a clear, tasteless liquid that you can put in juice or a smoothie, so it's very easy to take.
In addition, if you've had kidney stones, you'll want to cut back on foods like chocolate, spinach, tea, beets, rhubarb, nuts (especially almonds), parsley and berries. Take these foods infrequently and be sure to take calcium citrate whenever you do eat them.