Milk Myth: Drinking Milk Causes Kidney Stones

Myth: Drinking Milk Causes Kidney Stones

Milk Myth

Myth Buster: Drinking milk does not cause kidney stones, and may in fact protect against them.

Contrary to popular belief, milk consumption does not lead to the development of kidney stones and in fact some research suggests that drinking milk is associated with lower rates of stone formation.

  • Research done at Washington State University showed that people could replace apple juice with milk without increasing their risk of stone formation.1
  • A four-year study in men aged 40 to 75 found that those who consumed a calcium-rich diet (1,326 mg calcium/day) had a 34 percent lower risk of kidney stones than men who consumed only 516 mg calcium per day.2
  • Similarly, a study in women found that those who consumed three or more servings of dairy per day had a lower risk of kidney stone formation over an 8-year period.3

It is important to note that while calcium from foods does not increase kidney stone risk, calcium from supplements has been associated with higher risk of stone formation.4 In a study of vitamin D and calcium supplementation on bone fractures in postmenopausal women, those in the supplemented group were found to have higher incidence of kidney stones.5 Thus, it is best to get your calcium from food sources. If you do take supplements, make sure that your total calcium intake from foods plus supplements does not exceed the upper limit defined by the Institute of Medicine (2,500 mg/day for ages 19-50; 2,000 mg/day for those over 50 yr).6 To determine your calcium intake from the food you eat, take the Calcium Quiz.

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1Massey LK, Kynast-Gales, SA. J Am Diet Assoc 1998; 98:3:303;
2Curhan GC, Willett WC, Rumm EB, and Stampfer MJ. NEngl J Med 1993;328:833-838.
3Curhan GC et al. Arch Int Med 2004;164:885-91.
4Ann Intern Med. 1997 Apr 1;126(7):497-504.
5Jackson R.D. et al. N Engl J Med. 2006 Feb 16;354(7):669-83.
6Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2010.