What are the calcium intake recommendations for the treatment of hypercalciuria?

Updated: Jun 02, 2021
  • Author: Stephen W Leslie, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Avoidance of an excessively high-calcium diet is an obvious recommendation for calcium-stone formers. (See the image below for a list of calcium-rich foods.) Stone formers as a group are much more sensitive to dietary calcium than non–stone formers. For any given change in dietary calcium, urinary calcium has been shown to increase an average of only 6% in healthy controls, but it can increase 20% in calcium-stone formers. Ingestion of more than 2000 mg of calcium per day generally results in hypercalciuria and/or hypercalcemia in calcium-stone formers.

Calcium-rich foods. Calcium-rich foods.

The recommended dietary calcium intake for most calcium-stone formers is about 600-800 mg/day. Avoiding a diet that is too severely limited in calcium is important, however, because otherwise a negative calcium balance may occur, with subsequent osteopenia or actual osteoporosis.

Moreover, when calcium is removed from the diet without also restricting oxalate intake, the lack of intestinal oxalate-binding sites may too much intestinal oxalate unbound and available for easy absorption. When this occurs, urinary oxalate levels rise. Proportionately, oxalate is 15 times stronger than calcium in promoting nephrolithiasis, so the net stone formation rate may actually increase if dietary oxalate intake and hyperoxaluria are not controlled. In 2 large population studies involving men and women, patients with the highest daily calcium intake were demonstrated to have significantly fewer stones (within reasonable limits) than did patients with the lowest dietary calcium levels.

Calcium citrate is recommended if calcium supplements are needed. This combination has been shown to be the most effective in limiting the new stone formation rate for those who require calcium supplements.

Any patient with kidney stones who is placed on a long-term, reduced calcium diet for any reason should have his/her bone density measured periodically, preferably in the spine. Urinary oxalate levels should also be checked regularly.

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