Ask Should I stop my calcium carbonate vitamin pills?

question markIn our “Ask” section, we field questions from stone formers or their family members. See previous questions and answers here.


February 4, 2012

Question about calcium supplements

“i recently had another small stone that passed easily (thank you, God!). . . but i’m trying to prevent even those from passing/forming.

i take 500 mg. calcium citrate daily and in one vitamin (antioxidant): 150 mg. calcium carbonate/daily and in another vitamin: 500 mg. calcium/daily (as calcium carbonate, dicalcium phosphate, calcium citrate, calcium gluconate, calcium amino acid oligofructose complex)

i really like taking those vitamins, but do you think i should cut them out because of the calcium carbonate?”


You may have read our post on calcium supplements already, but if you haven’t it’s located here:

In general, most individuals do not need to limit their calcium intake and attempts to restrict calcium can sometimes lead to an increased risk for stones. That’s why a normal calcium intake is usually recommended. While calcium citrate is preferred because of its citrate content (which can help inhibit stones), this does not necessarily mean that you need to cut out your calcium carbonate intake as it is not inherently bad.  

In your situation, your personal total calcium intake may be higher than most individuals with the three supplements you take but it may still not be excessive, depending on your other dietary intake. The National Institutes of Health has a webpage that lists recommended daily allowances for calcium. Their recommended daily allowance is 1200mg for most women.

To get a more accurate answer to your question however, you may want to consider undergoing a 24 hour urine collection test through your doctor to determine whether the total amount of calcium in your urine is higher than normal. Based on this information, you can then decide whether you need to adjust your supplement intake.

Please note that this information is not intended to represent medical advice or professional opinion. Each patient’s case is unique and we recommend that all patients seek care with a local medical professional who can thoroughly review the circumstances and details of their case.

About Dr. Mike Nguyen

Mike M Nguyen, MD, MPH, is a urologist and an Associate Professor of Clinical Urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, CA. He specializes in the treatment of kidney stones with both surgery and dietary prevention and the in the treatment of kidney and prostate cancer using the latest robotic surgical approaches. He sees patients at clinics located in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and La Canada, CA. He is the founder of the website.
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4 Responses to Ask Should I stop my calcium carbonate vitamin pills?

  1. Janet says:

    I would like to know if 50,000 units of Vitamin D taken in pill form twice a month would have contributed to a kidney stone. Please reply email address above
    Thank you

    • Taking so much vitamin D can lead to more absorption of calcium which theoretically could lead to stones forming.

      Can I recommend the excellent book “The Calcium Lie” by Dr Robert Thompson M.D*Version*=1&*entries*=0

      The reasoning behind the Nationally recommended intake of calcium for women is based on faulty understandings.
      Our culture is dying because of too much calcium intake. Bones are made up of many minerals of which calcium is only one component. Calcium is behind many diseases in our western culture.
      As for struvite, I know nothing of that.
      Great website though, thanks to the good doctor.

  2. Quartz says:

    Reality? The reality is that having stone formation now has you in a vise that will get tighter and tighter as time goes on….the older you get, the stones will become more notceable…not just on an xray….if you do not seem to get answers, be up front with dr and tell them you are so overwhelmed with all the monitoring of the stone without a plan of treatment, that you want to seek advice of someone else…I have never heard of a stone maker that just had one experience or that was not bothered negatively as they aged…I am sure they are out there, just not in my kidney stone capital city…..I also have been dealing with the same issue of the same stone at the same spot, but have several worsening episodes a year, but the sit on my hands because they cannot see anything else got old….I have not been able to keep a urologist for consult because either they move away or want to do testing that I am not up for when in a high pain status…..they have done CT’s numerous times….truthfully stones are a mystery to even doctors….and they will never figure out a formula for treatment…boil a pot of asparagus and make it into a soup…get used to the taste

  3. Marie Pavese,M.D. says:

    I had two back to back lithotripsies in 12/2004 for a 1.4cm left renal calculus in the inferior pole. I continued to follow with serial KUB’s since I was asymptomatic. by 2/12/05 s/p lithotripsy, the solitary stone that was there was not completely gone and measured 1.5mmx 7mm which remained unchanged and essentially in the same position in the left inferior pole. repeat KUB 2/22/07 revealed a 4.9mmx7.4mm calculus in the same location and position in the left kidney pole, then a KUB in 12/3/08 revealed a 5x9mm stone also in the same spot and all asymtptomatic ,non-obstructive, no hydronephrosis.
    Since 2005 I have been taking urocit-K and HCTZ, hydration, lemonade,decrease dietary sodium , to prevent growth and reabsorb the calcium in the urine haveing been found to have secondary hyperparathyroidism.
    The question remains, how often to follow with repeat radiological studies and if it remains stable and asymtomtomatic …..1-2mm change but still in the pole , do you back down on the frequency of xrays, if so how often and at what intervals, then if you keep seeing the same stone in the lower pole around 9mm +/- when do you just do nothing or revert to maybe very occasionally doing a kub……when do you watch and what are the indications for a procedure to try to remove the stone in the lower pole which is less successfully eliminated because of the position in the lower pole? this is not a malignancy nor is it obstructing, so just because it is remaining there stable in the same spot, does that mean you have to keep xraying and then what? ….the answer to monitor is very vague….Does the specialty dictate that stable ,nonsymptomatic stones larger than a certain size need removal????If it chipped away 4mm after two back to back procedures which themselves had risks from anesthesia and the surgeries, then did I accomplish little in that it gained 1.6mm in size in 3 yrs? Is this insignificant in realtiy? what is reasonable and practicle and realistic. Please comment on indications for conservative monitoring, vs a procedure and schedule of monitoring ?

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