Most people know that kidney stones are up there with some of those painful experiences humans can fathom, and build-up of calcium deposits is partly to blame. Meanwhile, women of a certain age are encouraged to take calcium supplements to protect their bones. With reports showing that stones are become increasingly common among American women, a link between the two becomes questionable.
As one might expect, data show that taking calcium supplements may increase the risk of kidney stones. According to a study in the July issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, post-menopausal women, the group who are especially prone to loss of bone density and the occurrence of osteoporosis, were examined.
The study consisted of 36,282 subjects who, at the start of the study, took in virtually the same amount of calcium daily (about 1,145 milligrams). They were randomly assigned to take supplements of calcium (500 milligrams) plus Vitamin D (200 international units) twice daily with meals or to take placebo pills for seven years. During that time, kidney stones developed in 830 of the women. The development of kidney stones was 17 percent more common among women taking the supplements than among those in the placebo group.
The development of kidney stones was recorded just once for each participant; recurrences were not noted, which might have affected the results.
One great place to get resources for kidney related problems is the website for the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC).
They note the percent of adults ages 20 to 74 who self-reported ever having had kidney stones:
(1988–1994): 5.2 percent of adults (6.3 percent of men and 4.1 percent of women)
(1976–1980): 3.2 percent of adults (4.9 percent of men and 2.8 percent of women)
How do I prevent kidney stones?
Drink plenty of water and do this often. In my early twenties I had a stone, and so I went to see a urologist. He told me not to drink tea or other drinks that dehydrate you and to drink more water, so that the mineral deposits don’t have as much of a chance to collect and built up. Also, it is widely known that consuming cranberry juice can help prevent urinary tract problems.
What are warning symptoms?
You should call your doctor if you have
• extreme pain in your back or side that will not go away
• blood in your urine
• fever and chills
• urine that smells bad or looks cloudy
• a burning feeling when you urinate
The important thing to remember is that you should always drink enough water to get your urine clear. The amount of water we need daily is different for everyone, but doctors will note that that is one way you can judge for yourself if you are hydrating yourself well.
For more information, check out: http://www.kidney.niddk.nih.gov/index.htm