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February 2013

Vitamin C Supplements Linked to Kidney Stones

Men who take vitamin C supplements may have an increased risk for developing kidney stones, according to a new study.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for the formation of collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels. It also helps the body absorb iron. Dietary sources of vitamin C include fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits, such as oranges.

Many uses for vitamin C have been proposed, but few have been found to be beneficial in scientific studies. In particular, research on asthma, cancer and diabetes remains inconclusive, and no benefits have been found for the prevention of cataracts or heart disease. The use of vitamin C in the prevention or treatment of the common cold and respiratory infections remains controversial, and research is ongoing.

In a new study, researchers reviewed data on 48,850 men from the Cohort of Swedish Men to assess the potential link between vitamin C supplementation and kidney stone risk. Data on vitamin C supplement use was collected through questionnaires. Data on men who had a history of kidney stones and reported using supplements other than vitamin C were excluded from the analysis. Kidney stone cases were collected through registry data.

Throughout the 11 year follow-up period, 436 men developed their first case of kidney stones. The researchers found that vitamin C supplement use was significantly linked to twice the risk of developing kidney stones when compared to men who did not take supplements. However, the authors noted that a link between multivitamin use and kidney stones was lacking.

Addition research assessing this potential link is warranted.

For more information about vitamin c, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.

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  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 
  2. Thomas LDK, Elinder C-G, Tiselius H-G, et al. Ascorbic Acid Supplements and Kidney Stone Incidence Among Men: A Prospective Study. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;():1-2. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.2296.

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