Expert Q&A

Kidney stones: Recommendations for prevention?

What can I do to prevent kidney stones?

Kidney stones form when there are solids in high concentration in the urine. The types of solid elements in the urine contribute to kidney stone formation.

The most common type of stone—75-85% of stones—is a calcium salt precipitate. These stones have become more prevalent in people as the modern diet includes less fiber, more highly refined carbohydrates, and high alcohol, animal protein, fat and milk product consumption. Generally, vegetarians have a decreased risk of developing stones, as do meat eaters who also eat adequate amounts of vegetables and fruits every day. People with diets low in magnesium and B6 also show increased stone formation.

The calcium level in the blood also affects stone formation and can be influenced by diet. People who eat sugar have higher amounts of urinary calcium. People who eat high-fiber diets have lower amounts of urinary calcium, and greater amounts of magnesium and vitamin B6.

Passing a stone is very painful; so once you have passed a kidney stone, preventing another from forming becomes a priority. A few dietary changes can make a big difference in decreasing the likelihood of stone formation. First, dilute the urine by drinking clean water to decrease high concentrations of solids. Drinking half your body weight in ounces provides a useful guide for water consumption. This means that if you weigh 120 pounds, you would drink 60 ounces or two quarts of water per day. In addition, decrease sugar, alcohol, and meat consumption, and increase vegetable consumption to increase fiber, magnesium, and vitamin B6 in the diet.

Wendy Hodsdon, ND
Contributing Expert

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