As anyone who has ever dealt with kidney stones can tell you, they are one of the most painful conditions a person can endure. Unfortunately, most of the time you have to simply wait for them to pass through your system — which can be absolutely agonizing. People have even been known to faint from the level of pain the ailment inflicts.
That’s why it’s so important to stop them from developing before they can wreak havoc on your insides. Most people know that drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding a lot of sodium in your diet can help, but a September 2018 report from the New York Times by Richard Klasco, MD, uncovered another surprising way to ward off kidney stones: calcium. Dr. Klasco offered his explanation in response to a kidney-stone-prone reader who wondered about certain foods they should avoid. Instead of taking specific products out of rotation, though, Klasco recommended adding more food with calcium to his diet instead.
It might sound like bad advice if you’ve ever had a doctor tell you the exact opposite when dealing with the unpleasant issue. Because the stones actually contain calcium, physicians previously advised patients to minimize the amount they consumed — but Klasco claims that’s just plain wrong. He backed it up with research published by the Harvard School of Public Health in 1993. The study observed over 45,000 individuals and checked back in on them after 14 years. Researchers found that those who consumed more calcium-rich foods were less likely to develop kidney stones.
With that in mind, Klasco recommends having 1,000 to 1,2000 milligrams of calcium each day to help protect yourself against kidney stones. The National Osteoporosis Foundation provides a handy list of calcium content in the food we eat every day — and you might be surprised by more than a few of the items that give you a boost of calcium. Take a look below to see some of the best calcium-rich food options you should add to your grocery list!
It's probably not too surprising to see this popular dairy product starting off the list of calcium-rich goodies. But hey, we can all use another excuse to indulge in this dessert! The National Osteoporosis Foundation specified vanilla ice cream, but we bet there's still plenty to be found in whatever your favorite flavor might be.
Calcium Content: 85 mg per 8 ounces
On top of being a delicious way to boost your diet before going to bed at night, this crumbly dairy snack can also help you ward off kidney stones with its calcium content! It's always nice when you can hit multiple nutritional benefits from just one of your favorite snacks.
Calcium Content: 105 mg per 4 ounces
This might surprise you, but apparently enjoying a nice shrimp cocktail or one of the many other delightfully yummy ways to chow down on shrimp can also help boost your calcium levels to keep painful kidney stones at bay.
Calcium Content: 125 mg per 3 ounces
This is another surprising seafood option, but it comes with a bit more calcium. One salmon filet will give you the same amount as shrimp — unless you like to pile your plate high with the bite-sized crustaceans, not that we would judge you.
Calcium Content: 180 mg per 3 ounces
The leafy green has the same amount of calcium as salmon in an average serving size. You can go for an ultimate health-packed punch by combining them both in one meal to help ward off debilitating age-related ailments and kidney stones at the same time.
Calcium Content: 180 mg per 8 ounces
Just a small sprinkle of this popular cheese on top of your dish can add calcium to your plate. American cheese is another good option, but it has slightly less of the kidney-stone-fighting goodness.
Calcium Content: 205 mg per 1 ounce
Of course, our minds usually go to milk as the first option for boosting calcium in our system. Whether it's skim, low-fat, or whole milk, a cup will certainly get the job done — but there are still a few more options with even more calcium.
Calcium Content: 300 mg per 8 ounces
That's right, a cup of fortified orange juice has more calcium than milk! Both are great at the breakfast table, of course, but it's nice to know you can mix things up when you're looking to add some extra calcium to your day.
Calcium Content: 310 mg per 6 ounces
Getting back to dairy products, this refrigerator staple is perfect as a sour cream substitute to add calcium to your meals. For comparison, a tablespoon of regular sour cream is only 13 milligrams of calcium.
Calcium Content: 310 mg per 6 ounces
Whether you're stuffing some cannolis or adding dollops of the cheese to your pizza and pasta, this traditional Italian cheese is a great way to keep kidney stones from forming while enjoying a scrumptious meal.
Calcium Content: 335 mg per 4 ounces
Finally, another leafy green that can give you the biggest boost of calcium per average serving! You can heat these greens up on the stove for a traditional side dish, or pile on a couple of the other items listed here for a mega-calcium boost.
Calcium Content: 360 mg per 8 ounces