Everything You Need to Know About Kidney Stones

Original Image by Trevor Blake via Flickr
Original Image by Trevor Blake via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Those that drink iced tea are at higher risk of developing kidney stones.  It’s not a myth.  After looking at several studies, it’s been found that excessive consumption of tea can increase one’s chances of developing kidney stones, with more than 10% of Americans effected by kidney stones. It is understandable why some might be apprehensive of this claim, but there is such thing as too much of a good thing.

Oxalates are naturally occurring molecules found in plants, animals and within human bodies.  Not only can high oxalate intake cause kidney stones, but absorptive hypercalciuria type II, enteric hyperoxaluria, and primary hyperoxaluria.  It is recommended one limit their oxalate intake to 50 mg/day–for example, 1/4 cup of raw spinach.

High oxalate containing foods

Fruits Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, currants, kiwifruit, purple grapes, figs, tangerines and plums
Vegetables Spinach, swiss chard, beet green, collards, okra, parsley, leeks and quinoa, celery, green beans, rutabagas, summer squash
Nuts Almonds, cashews and peanuts
Legumes Soybeans, tofu and soy products
Grains Wheat bran, wheat germ, quinoa
Other Cocoa, chocolate and black tea

So let me explain, iced tea contains large amounts of oxalates, which is one of the many aspects of the composition of kidney stones.   The most common type of kidney stones are calcium oxalate, at 80% of the kidney stone cases.  Kidney stones can also be caused by calcium, uric acid and cystine and where there’s an imbalance between the concentration of these substances and the chemicals in the urine that usually keep the substances dissolve.  Vitamin C converts foods into oxalates, so any food that is high in oxalates are also indirectly high in vitamin C. Kidney stones are the first stage of kidney disease and can be prevented or treated quickly if one knows the proper treatment.

Risk factors




  • Working adults
  • Family history
  • Obesity
  • Diets high in oxalate—tea, okra, sweet potatoes
  • Disorders impacting calcium levels
  • Exposure to furosemide or indinavir
  • Bloody urine—hematuria
  • Pain in uria—dysuria
  • Increased urine output
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe pain in groin
  • Use urinalysis to see blood in urine
  • May request abdominal x rays
  • Ultrasounds
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans
  • hydration
  • Removal of stone—endoscopic stone removal or extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy
  • Medication

Suggestions to decrease risk of kidney stones:

Original Image by Mariya Chorna via Flickr
Original Image by Mariya Chorna via Flickr
  • Limit consumption of oxalates–found in rhubarb, nuts, spinach, dark chocolate, tea and coffee
  • Controlling urine pH by increasing vitamin C intake can help prevent UTI’s
  • increase fluid intake, such as carrot and grape juice, which inhibits the growth of uric acid
  • increase calcium consumption–many that develop kidney stones are prone to calcium deficiency
  • take at least 300-400 mg/day of magnesium to level ratio of calcium to magnesium of 1:1
  • add vitamin B6 foods into diet or supplements–deficiencies of B6 can lead to kidney stones
  • Limit sugar intake
  • Eat less meat

I know all these charts can be overwhelming, but it provides one with a clear picture of how many various ways kidney stones can be formed and how many sources of oxalate are in everyday foods.  If you believe you’re at risk of developing kidney stones, monitor your oxalate, calcium and vitamin C intake and your urine output.

Source: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v09n05.shtml




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