Can Vitamin C Pills Cause Kidney Stones?

Tuesday, 05 Feb 2013 11:12 AM

By Nick Tate

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Men who take vitamin C supplements regularly face a higher risk of developing kidney stones than those who don’t, new research shows.

The study, published in journal JAMA Internal Medicine by researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, found men who take multivitamins containing lower concentrations of vitamin C aren’t more likely to develop the painful kidney condition, suggesting high does may be a contributor factor.

"As with all research, the results should be corroborated by other studies for us to be really sure, nor can we say anything about whether women run the same risk as men," said lead researcher Agneta Åkesson, an associate professor of environmental medicine at the institute. “But given that there are no well-documented benefits of taking high doses of vitamin C in the form of dietary supplements, the wisest thing might be not to take them at all, especially if you have suffered kidney stones previously."

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The findings are based on a study of more than 23,000 Swedish men, with no history of stones, who were monitored for 11 years. Then men took either no dietary supplements or supplements in the form of vitamin C only.

Over the course of the study period, 436 of the men developed kidney stones requiring medical attention. The researchers then compared the risk of kidney stones in vitamin C-takers with that in men who did not take any supplements. They also compared the experiences of men who took multivitamins.

The results showed men who take vitamin C supplements — typically 1000 mg per tablet — are twice as likely to develop kidney stones as men who do not take any supplements. The risk was also found to increase with the frequency of vitamin C supplement use. But multivitamins did not raise the risk of kidney stones.

The researchers noted the increase in risk does not apply to a normal dietary intake of vitamin C from fruit and vegetables, which is lower than a 1,000 mg daily tablet.

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