Kidney stones and getting enough calcium | Ask Dr Jean


Dr Sonia DavisonWhen it comes to women's health, there is no such thing as a silly question. Do you have a question you want answered, but have been too afraid or embarrassed to bring it up with your GP? Or you forgot to ask while you were in the doctor's surgery? Now, you can 'Ask Dr Jean'.

This question has been answered by Jean Hailes endocrinologist (hormone specialist) Dr Sonia Davison (pictured). 

Question

I have had calcium oxalate kidney stones all my life, and have a dormant one in my left kidney at the moment. I have never taken calcium tablets because I thought the calcium will adhere to or make new kidney stones. Can you please tell me what you think I should do? I am concerned about not getting enough calcium, as I'm not fond of dairy products. My bone density test was above normal for my age of 68, but had reduced from the previous year. I stopped using HRT patches when I was 66 (having used them for 15 years) due to getting repeated bouts of thrush.

Answer

Calcium is very important for bone health, in addition to having critical roles throughout the body in terms of general cell function. The role of calcium supplementation for general and bone health has been questioned in recent years, with most expert bodies recommending maximising calcium through dietary sources where possible, rather than adding a supplement form of calcium.

There are several types of kidney stones, and calcium is important in the development of some types. A critical part of the management of calcium oxalate stones is diet, with recommendations for avoiding high oxalate foods, limiting salt and animal proteins, and maximising fluid intake, in particular water. However, calcium is very important, as the chance of kidney stones forming will actually be reduced by high calcium intake within diet. 

This excellent fact sheet from Queensland Health very nicely outlines the dietary recommendations for people with calcium oxalate stones. However, the best advice for those with calcium oxalate or other kidney stones is to follow the recommendations of their treating specialist, who will be able to advise about diet, calcium and other important lifestyle adjustments in terms of managing your kidney health and reducing the risk of further stone development.

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