If you suffer from kidney stones, you are without a doubt well aware of just how painful and debilitating they can be. However, they can be more than just painful, since they are also often associated with such dangerous health conditions as obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
And, with around 10% of our population experiencing them, they are not an uncommon ailment. (1)
However, as with most health conditions, prevention is the best course of action. This may entail sticking with a diet of natural whole foods which are high in magnesium, or by adding a magnesium supplement to your daily regimen.
But just why is it that magnesium works so well at preventing and treating renal stones?
Here is what you need to know about kidney stones, your diet, and how magnesium can help you avoid the recurring pain of them.
What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are hard, pebble-like formations in the kidneys which can be anywhere from smaller than a grain of rice, to larger than a golf ball. The most common cause of them is high urinary calcium, which is the case about 80% of the time. These stones form when calcium oxalate attaches to calcium phosphate within the kidney’s tissues, which then likely detaches into the urine and continues to amass to the point it can become a large and painful blockage in the urinary tract.
There is also the possibility of stones forming in urine, although more research is needed to confirm this.
The next most common type of stones are uric acid stones, which occur due to high urinary pH, which is usually due to dehydration. However, those who are obese, diabetic or who suffer from kidney disease can produce abnormally acidic urine, which can also lead to these types of stones.
Other, less common types are struvite stones, which are produced by bacteria; cystine stones, which occur only in those with an inherited kidney disorder called cystinuria; and there are also a few rare types such as those from sodium or ammonium acid urate, which can occur in those with chronic diarrhea or bowel disease.
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
For stones inside the kidneys, there are no symptoms, and the condition can go completely undiagnosed.
However, while smaller stones may travel through the bladder and ureter to be easily flushed out in the urine, larger stones can become trapped in the ureter and block the flow of urine. This then causes the kidneys to swell and become painful, along with a constant need for urination.
Other symptoms can include:
- Aching pain in the back or sides which intensifies when standing or changing positions
- For men, a possible aching in the groin
- Cloudy, strange-smelling urine
- Blood in the urine
- Chills and fever (4)
Due to the location of the kidneys, first-time sufferers often mistake the symptoms for a back injury, since the initial pain can be similar. The pain begins in the lower back and can radiate across the abdomen or into the genitals or the inside of the thigh.
However, once a large, jagged stone is making its way down the ureter, the excruciating pain has often been compared to childbirth, and possibly even worse. (5)
Diagnosis is made by urinalysis and x-ray. If there are only a few calcium crystals or small stones, often no treatment is needed, but pain may be relieved with painkillers and muscle relaxants. Larger stones are treated with surgery or with lithotripsy (the breakdown of the stones into little pieces using special ultrasound machines.
Magnesium for the Prevention and Treatment of Kidney Stones
When it comes to preventing or treating kidney stones, one thing you should consider is magnesium, which is a mineral known to help regulate muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure, along with helping in the production of DNA, protein and bone. (6)
And, magnesium citrate is also effective in inhibiting the type of crystals which make up kidney stones.
Magnesium keeps calcium dissolved in the blood so it will not form kidney stones. Taking calcium without magnesium for osteoporosis can promote kidney stones.
In fact, magnesium levels in the body are often a key biomarker of urinary stability and health, and while there is no clear evidence as to why this is, it may have to do with magnesium’s relationship with vitamin B6. Since vitamin B6
may reduce the amount of stone-causing oxalic acid in the body, and since magnesium is known to protect the body’s supply of B6, this may be the reason magnesium works so well at reducing the occurrence and reoccurrence of renal stones. (7)
Best Food Sources of Magnesium
When it comes to adding magnesium to your diet, there are some great tasting foods you can enjoy which will help you get enough from your diet. These include:
- Nuts, such as almonds, sunflower seeds and cashews. However, remember that salt can worsen your risk for renal stones, so unsalted nuts are best.
- Vegetables, such as kale, broccoli or beets.
- Meats, such as grass-fed beef, poultry or wild-caught seafood.
- Eggs and dairy.
- Fruits, such as bananas, cherries or pears. (8)
Adding these foods to your diet is a great way to increase your magnesium uptake along with other nutrients in their most bioavailable form. However, keep in mind that cooked and processed foods have lower magnesium levels than raw and unprocessed foods, and magnesium is often depleted in modern soils, and can be non-existent in fertilizers. This means modern food sources may have lower values of it.
Conventionally grown fruits, vegetables, dairy and meats also often contain pesticides, herbicides, added hormones, and can be genetically modified, so it is in your best interest to avoid them in favor of natural and organic food sources. (9)
Of course, adding a high-quality magnesium supplement to your daily regimen is an excellent way to increase your uptake of this critical mineral and lower your risk for kidney stones. This is especially helpful for those who have a diet high in sugar, use diuretics (including heavy coffee drinkers), alcoholics, drug users (including prescription), those on dialysis, or who suffer from chronic diarrhea. (10)
There are other reasons for the body’s inadequate uptake, which is why adding a high-quality, easily absorbed magnesium citrate supplement such as Hotze Vitamin’s Magnesium Citrate tablets can not only help you avoid kidney stones, but can help improve cardiovascular health, help you sleep better, and reduce muscle tension as well. Since magnesium is most absorbable in its citrate form, this also means that you are getting the most nutritional benefit from a supplement which delivers it in this form.
The Importance of Hydration
While adding a magnesium supplement or foods to your diet is perhaps one of the best ways there are of preventing and treating kidney stones, the importance of adequate hydration in preventing them should also be noted. This is especially true for those living in hot climates, those who indulge in heavy exercise, or those who use a sauna or who perform Bikram (AKA hot) yoga.
Since your kidneys need the flushing action of fluids to move excess mineral deposits along through the process urination, you need to replace the fluids lost through perspiration, diuretics, or even breathing while in a dry climate. Since perspiration does not help flush the kidneys, it does little or no good when it comes to this important function.
However, drinking plenty of purified water to the point that you are urinating regularly throughout the day to produce urine of a light, pale yellow color is another key in avoiding the pain of kidney stones. This should mean consuming around 3 liters of purified water per day, which should produce around 2.5 liters of urine per day. Foods such as cucumbers or iceberg lettuce can also be sources of hydration and can be an easier way to improve your daily hydration than merely consuming water. (11)
Avoid Soft Drinks
Soft drinks containing phosphoric acid encourage kidney stones in some people by pulling calcium out of the bones and depositing it in the kidneys. Phosphoric acid also depletes magnesium.
Avoid a Diet High in Purines
A diet high in purines, a substance found in alcohol, meat, and fish, can cause uric acid kidney stones. Purines are a colorless, crystalline compound that form uric acid on oxidation.
Natural Solution for Kidney Stone Prevention
Kidney stones can not only be debilitating and intensely painful, they can also be associated with other, more dangerous health conditions, such as obesity, hypertension, and gout. (12)
However, by not only increasing the amount of magnesium and vitamin B6 in your diet along with adequate hydration, you stand a far better chance of alleviating kidney stones or avoiding them in the first place.
And, you can do this either with all natural, nutrient dense whole foods which are high in magnesium, or with a high-quality magnesium supplement such as Hotze Vitamin’s Magnesium Citrate tablets.
Better yet, it is recommended that you consider a combination of both, since your body self-regulates and rids itself of excess magnesium through urination, making it nearly impossible to ingest too much of it. This “two-pronged approach” of healthy diet and supplementation along with plenty of hydration is your best way to ensure you not only get enough magnesium and other vital nutrients in your diet, but that you avoid the potentially ongoing agony of renal stones.
So be kind to your kidneys and be kind to your health—both of which can benefit from magnesium!
The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean, M.D., N,D.