At the International Kidney Stone Institute, our goal is nothing less than the cure.

Calcium Content of Common Foods

If you form calcium kidney stones, you should avoid dairy products, right? WRONG!

Your bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt; calcium is essential for the building part! Research has shown that restriction of dietary calcium does not significantly reduce stone formation and can contribute to bone loss, resulting in a condition called osteoporosis. Patients who excrete too much calcium in the urine, as many stone formers do, are at particularly high risk of bone loss. Their bodies do not properly conserve calcium in the bones.

Stone formers should meet the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for calcium. Currently, the RDA for calcium is 1000 mg per day for adult men and women. Two servings of dairy are recommended, which will provide about 60 – 70 percent of the total RDA. Other foods will provide the remaining 30-40 percent.

The typical American diet contains about 400 mg of calcium per day from non-dairy sources. Two servings of dairy (600 mg), plus a normal diet (400 mg), equal the recommended intake of 1000 mg. If you do not eat dairy products, you may consume calcium supplements with meals. However, no more than 500 mg per day should come from supplements. To summarize, kidney stone formers should consume no more than two servings of dairy per day, OR no more than 500 mg per day through supplements.

For more information for the calcium content of various foods, visit Calcium and Calorie Content of Selected Foods by the Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, The University of Arizona or The National Bone Health Campaign's List of Foods with Calcium