Supplements warning: The popular vitamin linked to a ‘doubled’ risk of kidney stones

Supplements warning: The popular vitamin linked to a ‘doubled’ risk of kidney stones

Frankie Foster advises followers not to take diet supplements

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Supplements in all their forms promise a different set of health benefits. Evidence is growing, however, that some vitamins and minerals warrant caution. When taken at high doses, certain supplements can have unfavourable effects. In one study, a common vitamin was linked to a doubled risk of kidney stones.

Vitamin C is key for the maintenance and reparation of connective tissues, skin and bones.

Supplementation with the nutrient is considered some of the safest and most effective.

According to The Harvard T.H. Chan School Of Public Health (HSPH), however, megadoses of vitamin C can elicit toxic reactions.

These reactions have included reports of diarrhoea, or history of stones, increased levels of uric acid, and increased formation of kidney stones in those with existing kidney disease or history of stones.

READ MORE: Supplements: Dietary supplements may ‘aggravate’ progression of cancer – what to avoid

The NHS explains that kidney stones can develop in one or both kidneys and most often affect people aged 30 to 60.

The health body continues: “They’re quite common, with more than one in 10 people affected. Kidney stones are usually found in the kidneys or in the ureter, the tube that connects the kidneys to your bladder.

“They are extremely painful, and can lead to kidney infections or the kidney not working properly if left untreated.”

In one 2013 study, researchers established that men who took high doses of vitamin C supplements doubled their risk of forming kidney stones.

The medical paper, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at the effects of vitamin C supplementation on 23,000 Swedish men.

Over a period of 11 years, about two percent of the men developed kidney stones, and those who reported taking the supplements were twice as likely to experience kidney stones.

The use of a standard multivitamin, on the other hand, didn’t boost the risk.

The researchers wrote: “In conclusion, our results indicate the high-dose ascorbic acid supplements – one of the most commonly used vitamin preparations – are associated with a dose-dependent two-fold increased risk of kidney stone formation among men.”

The researchers did note that their findings needed to be confirmed by other studies but could have important implications for clinical advice given to kidney stone patients.

According to Doctor Robert H. Fletcher, emeritus professor of ambulatory care and prevention at Harvard Medical School, if there truly was a cause-effect relationship, that would mean one in every 680 people who take high-dose vitamin C would develop kidney stones.

Doctor Fletcher noted: “This is not an insignificant risk, but more to the point, is an additional risk worthwhile if high-dose ascorbic acid is not effective.”

A previous study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health had drawn a similar connection in their study.

To minimise the risk of kidney stones, the National Institutes of Health recommends adults limit their intake of vitamin C to 2,000 mg per day.

However, the HSPH explains: “Studies have shown that sorption of vitamin C decreases to less than 50 percent when taking amounts greater than 1000 mg.”

Food dietary sources of vitamin C, which include red peppers, papaya and citrus fruits, are deemed safe, however.

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