Calcium oxalate crystal

Calcium oxalate

Oxalates and Kidney Stones

Oxalates are chemicals found naturally in some plants. It is also found in connective tissue of animals. Normally oxalates are metabolized by your digestive system without problems. If  oxalates increase they can generate kidney stones and joint pain. Problems can arise for several reasons.

  1. The absence of the normal gut bacteria, oxalobacter formigenes. This bacteria metabolizes oxalates.
  2. Poor gall bladder function.
  3. Genetic snips

The most common cause is poor gall bladder function so lets focus on that cause first. One job of your gall bladder is to digest fats. Bile acts like dishwasher soap on fats. It emulsifies it or breaks it up into small pieces. This helps the fats to be absorbed. If your gall bladder is not working, fats are not emulsified and are not digested as well and pass into the colon. When these undigested fats go into the colon they will bind with calcium and get pooped out in the stool.

This is a problem for a number of reasons. First, this means we are not absorbing our healthy fats. In addition, vitamins ADEK are fat soluble vitamins. If you are not absorbing fat properly these vitamins will be deficient. However other problems also arise from your gall bladder not working properly. When calcium binds with the larger fat molecules it it not available to bind with oxalates. Normally, calcium will bind with oxalate to form calcium oxalate. Your body cannot absorb calcium oxalate. Therefore more oxalate gets absorbed when the gall bladder is not functioning properly. In addition, more calcium being excreted can lead to osteoporosis and contribute to inflammation. 

What to Do? A plan of action.

A lot of the healthy foods we eat have oxalates. Certainly spinach is one of those foods. This does not mean you have to stop eating spinach.  If you take calcium citrate with meals it can bind with the oxalates and keep them from being absorbed. More importantly, it is important to evaluate gall bladder function. Improving gall bladder function is getting to the root cause of the problem. 

If you are having kidney stone problems check out our home page for new patient information.

foods high in oxalates