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How Much Vitamin C Causes Kidney Stones

Vitamin C Kills Bacteria

Can Vitamin C Cause Kidney Stones? How Much Vitamin C Per Day Should You Take?

Stones appear to form around an infected area. Enough vitamin C kills bacteria and might prevent stones.

Why? Because vitamin C removes the bacteria around which the stones form.

Dr. Frederick Klenner used large amounts of vitamin C in his medical practice for over 40 years. He explains that when proper amounts are used, ascorbic acid destroys all virus organisms.

Vitamin D And Kidney Stones: Lessons From Animal Models

Among the few animal models of kidney stone formation, the most interesting is certainly the genetic hypercalciuric stone-forming rat . This model has been obtained by inbreeding the most hypercalciuric progeny of successive generations of SpragueDawley rats . When fed on a standard diet, these rats have a dramatically higher urinary calcium excretion than controls and develop kidney stones made of calcium phosphate, or calcium oxalate with the addition of hydroxyproline to the diet . As in humans, hypercalciuria is a polygenic trait . This rat model is essential for addressing the pathophysiology of hypercalciuria. There is dramatically increased intestinal calcium absorption in GHS rats but also increased bone resorption and reduced renal tubular calcium reabsorption . These rats have increased biological activity of VDR in the bones and intestines and an increased VDR expression in the intestines, bones and kidneys. Calcitriol administration to GHS rats exacerbates calciuria by increasing intestinal calcium absorption but also bone resorption . These observations support the role of VDR in human hypercalciuria, but also the potential roles of calcitriol and VDR in bone demineralization which frequently affects kidney stone formers .

Taking Supplements In High Doses May Lead To Kidney Stones

Excess vitamin C is excreted from the body as oxalate, a bodily waste product.

Oxalate typically exits the body via urine. However, under some circumstances, oxalate may bind to minerals and form crystals that can lead to the formation of kidney stones .

Consuming too much vitamin C has the potential to increase the amount of oxalate in your urine, thus increasing the risk of developing kidney stones .

In one study that had adults take a 1,000-mg vitamin C supplement twice daily for 6 days, the amount of oxalate they excreted increased by 20% .

High vitamin C intake is not only associated with greater amounts of urinary oxalate but also linked to the development of kidney stones, especially if you consume amounts greater than 2,000 mg (


Consuming too much vitamin C may increase the amount of oxalate in your kidneys, which has the potential to lead to kidney stones.

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Why People Think Vitamin C Increases The Risk Of Kidney Stones

The idea that vitamin C increases the risk of developing kidney stones came years ago as part of the medical attack on Linus Pauling.

Let me explain.

Linus Pauling is the only person awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes and one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century.

Dr. Pauling was not a medical doctor, but he had a great interest in nutrition science. He dedicated many years to research ascorbic acid and other nutrients.

Efforts to discredit him took place when he suggested that vitamin C may help fight chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Many scientists and doctors before him had suggested the same.

The story of kidney stones and vitamin C is part of this effort to discredit Dr. Pauling.

The idea is based on anecdotal evidence and not science, and the reasoning is as follows:

  • Oxalates are a natural substance in many foods
  • When some types of kidney stones form, the number of oxalates increase
  • Some studies show that more vitamin C can increase the number of oxalates. This happens in people with recurrent stones formation that have unusual biochemistry
  • This results in the idea that vitamin C increases the risk of kidney stones
  • The fact is that many factors influence why and how stones form.

    There is no scientific evidence that shows that an increase in oxalates results in more or larger kidney stones.

    Dr. Stevey Hickey is one of the vitamin C experts. He’s the author of the book Ascorbate, The Science of Vitamin C.

    The Bioavailability Of Different Forms Of Vitamin C

    Taking too much vitamin C can lead to kidney stones.

    In the rapidly expanding market of dietary supplements, it is possible to find vitamin C in many different forms with many claims regarding its efficacy or bioavailability. Bioavailability refers to the degree to which a nutrient becomes available to the target tissue after it has been administered. We reviewed the literature for the results of scientific research on the bioavailability of different forms of vitamin C.

    Natural vs. synthetic ascorbic acid

    Natural and synthetic L-ascorbic acid are chemically identical, and there are no known differences in their biological activity. The possibility that the bioavailability of L-ascorbic acid from natural sources might differ from that of synthetic ascorbic acid was investigated in at least two human studies, and no clinically significant differences were observed. A study of 12 males found the bioavailability of synthetic ascorbic acid to be slightly superior to that of orange juice, based on blood levels of ascorbic acid, and not different based on ascorbic acid in leukocytes . A study in 68 male nonsmokers found that ascorbic acid consumed in cooked broccoli, orange juice, orange slices, and as synthetic ascorbic acid tablets are equally bioavailable, as measured by plasma ascorbic acid levels .

    Different forms of ascorbic acid

    Mineral ascorbates

    Vitamin C with bioflavonoids

    Ascorbate and vitamin C metabolites

    Ascorbyl palmitate

    D-Isoascorbic acid

    Other formulations of vitamin C

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    Linus Pauling Institute Recommendation

    Combined evidence from metabolic, pharmacokinetic, and observational studies, and from randomized controlled trials supports consuming sufficient vitamin C to achieve plasma concentrations of at least 60 mol/L. While most generally healthy young adults can achieve these plasma concentrations with daily vitamin C intake of at least 200 mg/day, some individuals may have a lower vitamin C absorptive capacity than what is currently documented. Thus, the Linus Pauling Institute recommends a vitamin C intake of 400 mg daily for adults to ensure replete tissue concentrations an amount substantially higher than the RDA yet with minimal risk of side effects.

    This recommendation can be met through food if the diet includes at least several servings of vitamin C-rich fruit and vegetables as part of the daily recommended fruit and vegetable intake . Most multivitamin supplements provide at least 60 mg of vitamin C.

    Older adults

    Originally written in 2000 by:Jane Higdon, Ph.D.

    Reviewed in December 2018 by:Anitra C. Carr, Ph.D.Department of Pathology & Biomedical ScienceUniversity of Otago

    Copyright 2000-2021 Linus Pauling Institute

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    Vitamin C Does Not Cause Kidney Stones

    It is strange how some medical authors seem desperate to show that vitamin C causes harm. One recurrent scare story is that vitamin C might cause kidney stones. However, although such warnings pop up regularly, these reports do not demonstrate an increase in the number or size of stones instead, they rely on vague indicators of improbable risk.

    The authors of such uncritical papers have probably not read the literature, for this is an old story. Decades ago, the idea that vitamin C causes kidney stones formed part of the medical attack on Linus Pauling. While it was initially a reasonable hypothesis, unexpected kidney stones are not found in people taking large amounts of vitamin C.

    There is no evidence that vitamin C causes kidney stones. Indeed, in some cases, high doses may be curative. A recent, large-scale, prospective study followed 85,557 women for 14 years and found no evidence that vitamin C causes kidney stones. There was no difference in the occurrence of stones between people taking less than 250 milligrams per day and those taking 1.5 grams or more. This study was a follow up of an earlier study on 45,251 men. This earlier study indicated that doses of vitamin C above 1.5 grams reduce the risk of kidney stones. The authors of these large studies stated that restriction of higher doses of vitamin C because of the possibility of kidney stones is unwarranted.

    However, the number or size of kidney stones did not increase.


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    Vitamin C Reduces Sugar Levels

    Glucose and vitamin C have very similar molecular structures. They both compete in the body for the biochemical pumps that transport them into the cells.

    This means that enough vitamin C reduces your sugar levels… and this may reduce your risk or developing kidney stones.

    It’s interesting that our bodies were designed to convert glucose to ascorbic acid. The problem is that this process depends on having an enzyme that most people are missing.

    This is one of the reasons why ascorbic acid is more than a vitamin.

    Is It Safe To Take All Your Vitamins At Once

    Vitamin C, does it really cause kidney stones?

    You canbut its probably not a good idea. For some supplements, optimal absorption can depend on the time of day taken. Not only thattaking certain vitamins, minerals, or other supplements together can also reduce absorption and may result in adverse interactions, which can be harmful to your health.

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    My Experience After 10 Years

    I started taking larger amounts of vitamin C over 10 years ago. Here’s my story with vitamin C.

    During this time, I have not developed any kidney stones or any other type of stones.

    I also have not developed any medical condition as a result of taking the amounts of vitamin C that my body needs. I currently take about 12 grams of vitamin C daily, spaced out throughout the day.

    Vitamin C has helped me take fewer drugs, and be in better health.

    As a result, I rarely get sick. And when I do feel a little under the weather, I up my intake of vitamin C and go back to normal much faster.

    Difference Between Dr Linus Pauling’s Recommendations And The Lpi’s Recommendation For Vitamin C Intake

    Dr. Pauling, for whom the Linus Pauling Institute has great respect, based his own recommendations for vitamin C largely on theoretical arguments. In developing his recommendations, he used cross-species comparisons, evolutionary arguments, the concept of biochemical individuality, and the amount of vitamin C likely consumed in a raw plant food diet. Using this approach, Dr. Pauling suggested in the early 1970s that the optimum daily intake may be about 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C and that everyone should get at least 200 to 250 mg/day. In a 1974 radio interview, he noted that “the first 250 mg is more important than any later 250 mg. The first 250 mg leads you up to the level where the blood is saturated. You can achieve a higher volume in the blood by a larger intake, but you get much better improvement for the first 250 mg than for additional grams.” Dr. Pauling significantly increased his recommendation in his 1986 book How To Live Longer and Feel Better. At the Linus Pauling Institute, we have based our vitamin C recommendations on the current body of scientific evidence, which is significantly greater than it was at Pauling’s time but remains incomplete owing to the many diverse functions of vitamin C in the human body that have yet to be fully understood.

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    Can Too Much Vitamin C Lead To Kidney Stones

    Being in the midst of cold season, many of us try to take as many preventive actions as possible to avoid the sniffles, whether it’s washing our hands more frequently, taking more vitamins, sucking on zinc lozenges or popping extra vitamin C supplements.

    But if you are a male, be aware of how much vitamin C you are taking. A recent study in the “JAMA Internal Medicine” journal found that men who ingested vitamin C supplements of 1,000 mg/day or more were at increased risk for kidney stones. Vitamin C intake through diet did not carry the same risk.

    The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C in the United States is 75 mg/day for women and 90 mg/day for men.

    “Most people get enough vitamin C from a balanced diet and our bodies absorb it most effectively from the foods we eat,” says Sarah Malik, MD, Nebraska Medicine gastroenterologist.

    “People who might be susceptible to vitamin C deficiency, such as smokers, people with severe intestinal malabsorption or cachexia and cancer patients might be at increased risk of vitamin C inadequacy, may benefit from the use of vitamin C supplements under a doctor’s supervision,” says Dr. Malik.

    Major sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, tomatoes, cantaloupes and strawberries. Approximately 70% to 90% of vitamin C is absorbed in moderate intakes of 30 to180 mg/day. However, at doses above 1g/day, absorption falls to less than 50%. Absorbed, unmetabolized vitamin C is excreted in the urine.

    Risk Is Real Benefits Arent

    Precision Urology Melbourne

    The Swedish study isnt the first to link vitamin C with kidney stones. A similar connection was observed in men by Dr. Gary C. Curhan and colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health. Curiously, in an almost identical study in women, Curhans team didnt find any association between vitamin C intake and kidney stones.

    Kidney stones form for a variety of reasons. Genes matter, as do gender , weight , and diet . The most common type of stone is a mixture of calcium and oxalate, a substance found in many foods. Some people break down vitamin C into oxalate, which may explain the connection with kidney stone formation.

    Is there enough evidence to warn men, at least, from taking vitamin C supplements? Yes, says Dr. Curhan. High dose vitamin C supplements should be avoided, particularly if an individual has a history of calcium oxalate stones.

    accompanying the vitamin C article, Dr. Robert H. Fletcher, emeritus professor of ambulatory care and prevention at Harvard Medical School, made the point a different way. If theres truly a cause-effect relationship, then one of every 680 people who take high-dose vitamin C would develop kidney stones. This is not an insignificant risk, Fletcher writes. But more to the point, is any additional risk worthwhile if high-dose ascorbic acid is not effective?

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    Diet Further Confounds The Vitamin C Kidney Stone Theory

    Certain foods contain significant amounts of oxalates. These include numerous healthy staples:

    • Spinach
    • Peppers
    • Pecans

    Certain soy-based foods are also major oxalate sources. Tea also contributes oxalate. The essential amino acid glycine, a precursor to the master antioxidant, glutathione is, according to Dr. Levy, likely the major source of glyoxylate which is an immediate precursor to oxalate. The artificial sweetener aspartame combines two amino acids that lead to oxalate. Sardines and other high-purine foods increased oxalate excretion.

    Kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate, but calcium doesnt get nearly the attention of Vitamin C in its potential role in kidney stone formation. In a study of 91,731 women, researchers found that the high dietary intake of calcium decreased the risk of kidney stones, while calcium supplements may have increased the risk.

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    Too Much Vitamin C May Cause Digestive Symptoms

    The most common side effect of high vitamin C intake is digestive distress.

    In general, these side effects do not occur from eating foods that contain vitamin C, but rather from taking the vitamin in supplement form.

    Youre most likely to experience digestive symptoms if you consume more than 2,000 mg at once. Thus, a tolerable upper limit of 2,000 mg per day has been established (


    Ingesting more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C per day may lead to gastrointestinal upset, including symptoms like diarrhea and nausea.

    Vitamin C is known to enhance iron absorption.

    It can bind to non-heme iron, which is found in plant foods. Non-heme iron is not absorbed by your body as efficiently as heme iron, the type of iron found in animal products .

    Vitamin C binds with non-heme iron, making it much easier for your body to absorb. This is an important function, especially for individuals who get most of their iron from plant-based foods .

    One study in adults found that iron absorption increased by 67% when they took 100 mg of vitamin C with a meal .

    However, individuals with conditions that increase the risk of iron accumulation in the body, such as hemochromatosis, should be cautious with vitamin C supplements.

    Under these circumstances, taking vitamin C in excess may lead to iron overload, which can cause serious damage to your heart, liver, pancreas, thyroid, and central nervous system .

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    How Vitamin C May Actually Reduce Your Risk Of Kidney Stones

    The vitamin C experts believe that vitamin C may actually reduce the risk of kidney stones… and could help prevent other types of stones:

    • Uric acid stones – formed in the gout
    • Cystine stones – formed in children with hereditary conditions
    • Calcium phosphate stones
    • Struvite stones – formed in infected urine

    Here are the reasons why vitamin C may actually reduce the risk of stones formation:

    Taking Too Much Vitamin C Could Lead To Kidney Stones

    Some Vitamin C may cause Kidney Stones

    Many of us are looking for ways to boost our immune system to protect ourselves from COVID-19, so we are turning to supplements.

    But, some of those supplements cause other major issues. You may have it in your cabinet right now: vitamin C.

    Its supposed to help with all kinds of things by boosting your immune system, but doctors warn taking too much can also lead to kidney stones.

    Dr. David Hernandez is a urologist and professor for USF Health. He says vitamin C is good for you, but its best to get it from your diet.

    There are some studies suggesting that not dietary, but supplemental vitamin C at doses more than a gram a day, a thousand milligrams a day, can increase your risk for stones because of the effect of the oxalate levels in your urine increasing, Hernandez said.

    He suggests people get their daily dose from the foods they eat.

    In general a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, preferably lean meats and things like that, youre going to get everything, Hernandez said.

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