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Consuming more calcium and potassium helps prevent recurring kidney stones, study finds

Diet plays an important role in the development of kidney stones

Diet and health concept
Photo (c) Jesada Athaput EyeEm - Getty Images
A new study conducted by the Mayo Clinic explored the way that consumers’ diet choices can affect their kidney health. According to their findings, incorporating more foods that are high in potassium and calcium are likely to lower the risk of recurring kidney stones. 

“These dietary findings may have particular importance because recommendations for preventing kidney stones have been based primarily on dietary factors associated with first-time rather than recurrent stone formation,” said researcher Dr. Andrew Rule. “Patients may not be likely to adjust their diet to prevent an incidence of kidney stones, but they are more likely to do so if it can help prevent recurrence.” 

Improving long-term kidney health

The researchers had over 400 participants who recently had their first kidney stones and over 380 people who hadn’t had a kidney stone involved in the study. All of the participants visited the Mayo Clinic in either Florida or Rochester between 2009 and 2018, and they answered in-depth questionnaires that assessed their diets. 

Ultimately, there were several links between diet and kidney health. Lower levels of calcium and potassium were two of the leading risk factors associated with getting the first kidney stone. After following up with the participants for more than four years, the researchers learned that increasing calcium and potassium intake was beneficial in preventing future kidney stones. 

The team recommends that consumers incorporate more foods that are high in both nutrients. This can include fruits and vegetables like apricots, bananas, peas, oranges, potatoes, cantaloupe, and zucchini, among several others. The researchers say aiming for 1,200 mg of calcium per day should be consumers’ goal, but there is no set figure for potassium intake. 

“Changing your diet to prevent kidney stones can be very difficult,” Dr. Rule said. “Thus, knowing the dietary factors that are most important for preventing kidney stone recurrence can help patients and providers know what to prioritize.” 

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