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Sports Drinks & Kidney Stones

author image Keri Gardner
Based in Michigan, Keri Gardner has been writing scientific journal articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in such journals as "Disability and Rehabilitation" and "Journal of Orthopaedic Research." She holds a Master of Science in comparative medicine and integrative biology from Michigan State University.
Sports Drinks & Kidney Stones
Sports drinks have come under fire as a possible cause of kidney stones. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Valueline/Getty Images

Sports drinks have come under fire as a contributing factor for the increased incidence of kidney stones. Because sports drinks contain potassium and sodium in their ingredients, it is assumed these salts contribute to an increased urinary calcium excretion, causing the formation of kidney stones. There is little or no evidence suggesting a relationship between sports drink consumption and an increase in kidney stone formation. Keeping hydrated with fluids such as water, juice or sports drinks may reduce kidney stone formation.

Kidney Stones

Different types of kidney stones can form in your kidneys and your diet can promote or inhibit their formation, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, or NIDDK. Calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate, the most common type of kidney stones, sometimes form when high salt in the diet causes an increased urinary output. The increased output causes higher amounts of calcium to be excreted in the urine, which can lead to kidney stone formation.

Dietary Sodium

The maximum recommended intake of dietary sodium is 2,400 milligrams per day and but average American consumes 3,300 milligrams, according to the NIDDK. High sodium intake increases the risk of calcium stone formation, so most doctors recommend a low-salt diet and drinking plenty of water. Salty snacks, processed foods, canned soups, packaged meals and sports drinks contribute to a high-sodium diet. Eliminating one item, such as sports drinks, from your diet is not usually enough to change urine sodium excretion. A registered dietitian can assist you in designing a complete low-sodium diet.

Sports Drinks Ingredients

Sports drinks contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes and flavoring. Their intention is to replenish electrolytes lost by sweating during prolonged exercise. The amount of sodium varies per product. One 8-ounce serving of Gatorade contains 110 milligrams of sodium, while Powerade contains 54 milligrams and All Sport Body Quencher has 55 milligrams, all small amounts of sodium, compared to your daily sodium intake.

Research on Connection

A study published in the 2008 "Urology Research" states that adults drinking 946 milliliters of sports drink daily did not have any increase in their urinary sodium or calcium. Because the sports drinks studied did not change urine chemistry, it is predicted that such drinks would not affect kidney stone formation. High-sodium sports drinks, such as Gatorade Endurance, may pose a risk but currently no studies have been completed on these types of drinks.

Points to Consider

Sports drinks and energy drinks are not the same. Sports drinks replenish water and electrolytes, while energy drinks contain non-nutritive stimulants, such as caffeine. Regularly drinking sports drinks is usually not necessary and may contribute to increasing calorie consumption, as well as dental erosion. The NIDDK notes that plain water is best. If you exercise for more than two hours or you sweat excessively, be sure to replenish your fluids, as dehydration is a risk factor for calcium kidney stone formation.

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