Effect of dietary calcium on stone forming propensity

Howard J. Heller, Mark F. Doerner, Linda J. Brinkley, Beverley Adams-Huet, Charles Y C Pak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Purpose: Epidemiological studies have reported that high calcium diet protects against kidney stone formation in normal subjects. This metabolic study was designed to elucidate the physiological and physicochemical effects conferring this apparent protection. Materials and Methods: A total of 21 normal volunteers underwent 2 phases of study in a crossover, randomized design, wherein they consumed constant metabolic diets that matched the estimated highest and lowest quintiles of calcium intake from published epidemiological studies. Results: Urinary calcium was significantly greater on the high calcium diet (148 ± 55 versus 118 ± 43 mg. daily, p < 0.01, p < 0.01) but urinary oxalate did not differ between diets. There was no difference in relative saturation ratio of calcium oxalate between the 2 diets. The high calcium diet significantly increased saturation of brushite and decreased that of uric acid. Due to the other differences between the diets (more fluid, potassium, magnesium and phosphate in the high calcium diet), the high calcium diet also increased 24-hour urinary volume, potassium, phosphorus, pH and citrate. After adjustment of these confounding variables, the high calcium diet significantly increased relative saturation ratio of calcium oxalate by 24%. Conclusions: High calcium diet from published epidemiological studies does not alter the propensity for calcium oxalate crystallization in normal subjects despite increased urinary calcium and unaltered urinary oxalate because of the greater amounts of ingested fluid, potassium and phosphate. However, high calcium intake alone, without concomitant changes in the diet, poses a modest risk for calcium stone formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)470-474
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2003


  • Calcium, dietary
  • Kidney calculi, calcium oxalate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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