Know Your Stones...Protect Your Kidneys (cont.)

Shake off the salt. Research is clear on the fact that the sodium found in salt can cause problems by increasing the amount of calcium that you excrete in your urine, which in turn increases your risk of another kidney stone developing. The recommendation is to consume a maximum of 2,000 to 3,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day. The main source of sodium in our diets comes from processed and prepared foods. The sodium is used as a preservative and taste enhancer in foods such as canned foods, frozen foods, and cold cuts. Many of these products are now available in low-sodium versions, so be sure to read the label. The food label guidelines for sodium are as follows:

  • Sodium-free: less than 5 mg per serving


  • Very low sodium: 35 mg or less per serving or, if the serving is 30 grams (g) or less or 2 tablespoons or less, 35 mg or less per 50 g of the food


  • Low-sodium: 140 mg or less per serving or, if the serving is 30 g or less or 2 tablespoons or less, 140 mg or less per 50 g of the food


  • Light in sodium: at least 50% less sodium per serving than average reference amount for same food with no sodium reduction


  • Lightly salted: at least 50% less sodium per serving than reference amount


  • Reduced or less sodium: at least 25% less per serving than reference food

The salt that you add while cooking or eating can easily put you over your limit for the day. Each teaspoon of salt contains about 2,300 mg of sodium. Some techniques for keeping your sodium intake down are:

  • Prepare food yourself when possible


  • Choose fresh or frozen vegetables


  • Limit or avoid processed, cured or pickled foods


  • Try sodium free seasonings for flavor. Some great options are pepper, fresh garlic, garlic power, fresh onion, onion powder, lemon juice and vinegar


  • Replace high sodium sauces with dry mustard, vinegar, or homemade low sodium sauces


  • When eating out, ask for the sauce on the side and add it sparingly

Too much of a good thing: When it comes to vitamins, more is not always better. For this reason, tolerable upper limits (UL) have been set to let people know what level they need to stay below to avoid any harmful health consequences. There is some evidence to suggest that ascorbic acid (vitamin C) taken in high doses can increase stone formation in people who are at risk. In order to avoid this increased risk, you will need to stay below the UL of 2,000 mg/day that has been set for ascorbic acid. An 8-ounce cup of orange juice contains only about 130 mg of vitamin C, so the most likely way to exceed the safety limit would be through supplements. If you do take a vitamin supplement, be sure to read the labels carefully and speak with your physician if you have any questions.