Does calcium and vitamin D supplementation cause kidney stones?

Does calcium and vitamin D supplementation cause kidney stones?

In a study, presented at the Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas, researchers studied 163 healthy, postmenopausal women aged between 57 and 85 years who were taking calcium and vitamin D supplements for his on will help her quite.

All subjects in the study were randomly given a vitamin D supplement of 400, 800, 1600, 2400, 3200, 4000, or 4800 international units (I.U.) a day, or placebo. Their calcium intake was increased from a daily initial intake of 691 mg to 1,200-1,400mg.

The researchers measured blood and urinary calcium levels of the people at the beginning of the study, and then every three months for one year. researchers noticed that 33 per cent of subjects developed high urinary levels of calcium at some time in the course of the study.

It was not clear to the researchers whether the extra calcium, the vitamin D or both together caused the high urinary levels of calcium. However, based on these findings, it is likely that long-term use of supplements causes hypercalciuria and hypercalcemia, and this can contribute to kidney stones. In a study using data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) trial, which recruited more than 36,000 post-menopausal women ages 50 to 79 years of age, it was found that 17% more of the women taking calcium and vitamin D supplements together developed kidney stones compared to the women taking placebo. Although, total calcium intake averaged 2100 mg per day, and vitamin D intake was around 800 international units per day; so at this level, vitamin D is not associated with either hypercalcemia or hypercalciuria. Therefore, researchers concluded that the supplemental vitamin D in the study probably did NOT contribute to kidney stone formation. Based on this researchand the fact that the cost of laboratory testing is relatively low, it seems prudent to monitor blood and urine calcium levels in people who take either of these supplements on a long-term basis.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are substances the body needs for normal growth and functioning. Vitamins and minerals facilitate crucial chemical reactions and act as building blocks for the body.

Vitamins and minerals are called “micronutrients” to distinguish them from the macronutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that make up the bulk of our food. While micronutrients are vital for the proper processing of macronutrients, they are needed in smaller quantities.

Micronutrient deficiency can lead to acute diseases like scurvy, pellagra, and beriberi, and  these deficiency diseases were common in the U.S. until the 1940s, when the FDA began mandating fortification of common foods like bread and milk with vitamins.

Riboflavin or Vitamin B2


Riboflavin, or Vitamin B2, is one of 8 essential B vitamins. Vitamin B2, like all of the B vitamins, must be obtained from the diet because humans cannot synthesize it. PLP plays a vital role in the function of approximately 100 different enzymes in the body.  Riboflavin, again like all of the B vitamins, helps the body to convert carbohydrates into individual glucose molecules, which is “burned” to produce energy (ATP). These B vitamins, commonly referred to as B complex vitamins, also participate in the metabolism of fats and protein. All the B vitamins are water-soluble, and the body does not store them.

Riboflavin is also needed to help the body change pyridoxal (vitamin B6) and folate (vitamin B1) into forms it can use.

Additionally, riboflavin works as an antioxidant by fighting damaging particles in the body known as free radicals. Free radicals can damage cells and DNA, and may contribute to the aging process, as well as the development of inflammation possibly leading to a number of health conditions, such as heart disease and cancer.

Most healthy people who eat a well-balanced diet with a sufficient daily intake get enough riboflavin. However, elderly people and alcoholics may be at risk for riboflavin deficiency.

Symptoms of riboflavin deficiency include fatigue; digestive problems; cracks and sores around the corners of the mouth (the medical terms for this include angular cheilitis, perlèche, cheilosis or angular stomatitis); swollen magenta-colored tongue; eye fatigue; swelling and soreness of the throat; and sensitivity to light.

Some early evidence shows that riboflavin might help prevent damage to the lens of the eye, called cataracts, which can lead to cloudy vision. In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, people who took a niacin and riboflavin supplement had fewer cataracts than people who took other vitamins and nutrients.  On the other hand, levels above 10 mg per day of riboflavin can actually promote damage to the eye from the sun. In addition, several studies suggest that people who get migraines may reduce how often they get migraines and how long they last by taking riboflavin.  In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study of people who experience migraine headache, it was demonstrated that taking 400 mg of riboflavin a day decreased by half the number of migraine attacks.

 Dietary Sources:

The best sources of riboflavin include brewer’s yeast, almonds, organ meats, whole grains, wheat germ, mushrooms, soybeans, milk, yogurt, eggs, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and spinach.  Processed flours and cereals are often fortified with supplemental riboflavin.

Riboflavin is destroyed by light, so food and supplements should be stored away from light to protect the riboflavin content. Riboflavin is not destroyed by heat, and it usually stays intact during the cooking process, but riboflavin can be lost in water when foods are boiled or soaked.