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Calcium Oxalate Kidney Stones

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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.


Kidney Stones DiagramOxalates 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 Vitamin 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 absorbed 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.

Solutions

Over-the-Counter Calcium – 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. If you buy it over the counter, then it’s going to be the kind that actually doesn’t absorb very well, which is actually good in this case. Because it absorbs poorly, it will stay in the digestive tract and bind with oxalates, preventing them from being pulled into the body.

ZeoliteZeolite is a fabulous mineral that is created when lava hits sea water. It is ionically charged, so it pulls heavy metals and all kinds of other crud out of your body. As it binds with the yucky stuff it releases calcium, which can then be used by the body. Not a bad party trick, right? And as it happens, its charge is the opposite of oxalate’s charge, so it will bind with any oxalates and keep them in your intestines. It comes in powder form and looks a bit like ground-up chalk. You can hide it in salad dressings, blend it in with soups, and stir it into smoothies and never taste it.

What About Bone Health?

You may be wondering at this point, “If I take calcium with high-oxalate food, and the calcium is then bound up with the oxalate and excreted to prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones, how will I get the calcium my body needs?” This is where angstrom sized calcium and the Zeolite come 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.

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 the calcium citrate with meals, and the angstrom calcium and Zeolite 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.