You probably already know that taking too much calcium can cause serious health problems. It can lead to fragile bones that break easily. And it contributes to arthritis, heart disease, constipation, muscle spasms, and even kidney stones. But researchers just found another surprising cause of these painful stones.
Kidney stones are, like their name implies, small rocks that develop in the kidney. These small stones have crystal spikes on them that grab hold of the walls of your urinary tract. The pain is excruciating. We’ve known for some time that they occur when certain minerals crystallize and stick together, forming a stone.
We’ve known for some time that one of those minerals is calcium. But now we know there’s another mineral causing the pesky stones — sodium. What’s worse, though, is combining too much calcium or too much salt with not enough water. It’s a sure recipe for kidney stones.
But that’s not all. The researchers in this study found that these two minerals actually change your genes. That’s right! Taking too much calcium or sodium and not drinking enough water can make you genetically predisposed to getting kidney stones.
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The study comes from the European Molecular Biology Organization. They followed mice with a common genetic variation in a gene called claudin-14. They found that having this genetic variation increases your risk of getting kidney stones by up to 65%.
For most people, the claudin-14 gene isn’t active in the kidney. When it becomes active, it disrupts you body’s filtration system along the urinary tract. And calcium and sodium can cause it to become active. An active claudin-14 gene prevents the filtration system from pushing calcium back into the bloodstream. When this happens, you get stones in your kidney or bladder.
Of course, the researchers are now looking to develop drugs to inactivate the gene. And they will probably develop an expensive test for this gene. But neither one makes any sense.
Why take a drug when you can simply alter your diet and have the same impact? And why take a test for a gene when your body is already telling you the answer to the test? If you get kidney stones, you’ll probably test positive for the gene. Sometimes it really is that simple.
All you need to do to avoid kidney stones is reduce your calcium and sodium intake and drink more water. This is the same advice I’ve given you for years.
How much calcium is too much? Your doctor will tell you to take 1,200-1,500 mg daily. This is way too much. It will put you at risk for kidney stones and all of the other health problems I mentioned at the outset.
You don’t need to take more than 500 mg of calcium daily. Make sure you’re taking 500 mg of magnesium along with it to ensure your body absorbs the calcium into your bloodstream. This will help you avoid a calcium buildup and the stones. If you’re taking Healthy Resolve, you’re getting all the calcium you need from supplements. If your body needs more, it will pull it from the green leafy vegetables you eat.
As for sodium, try not to add table salt to your food, don’t eat out too much (restaurant food is very salty), and make sure you’re drinking enough water.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand