A healthy dose of citric can provide relief for those who suffer from frequent kidney stones. Here’s what you need to know.

Kidney stones are tiny pebbles of crystallized minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys. When the stones are in your kidneys, you may not experience symptoms and they usually don’t cause any permanent damage. However, as they pass from the kidneys to the bladder, kidney stones can be quite painful. Symptoms include severe pain in the back and sides that radiates toward the lower abdomen, pain upon urination, nausea, and fever.

But did you know that something as simple as drinking lemonade can prevent kidney stones from forming and provide relief? Here’s everything you need to know about the relationship between citric acid and kidney stones.

How Does Citric Acid Prevent Kidney Stones?

Citric acid is a naturally occurring acid in fruits and fruit juices. It doesn’t have any vitamins or minerals, but is nonetheless extremely beneficial for people with kidney stones or kidney disease. Citric acid combats excess salt in your urine and prevents small stones from becoming big stones by forming a protective coating around them, which keeps more salts and minerals from crystallizing and sticking.

Lemons and limes have the most citric acid, but grapefruits, cranberries, pineapples, oranges, and even tomatoes have high amounts as well.

How to Safely Increase Your Citric Acid Intake

It’s easier than you think to start incorporating more citric acid into your diet, and if you do so safely, you won’t risk damaging your teeth. The goal is to consume 4 ounces of pure lemon juice or the equivalent per day. Start with these four easy tips:

Eat Five Fruits or Vegetables High in Citric Acid Daily: All fruits and vegetables have some modicum of citric acid content, so if you eat more of those, you’ll be doing your kidneys a huge favor. Have grapefruit at breakfast for a tart treat very high in citric acid.
Take Potassium Citrate Pills: Potassium citrate pills have all the benefits of citric acid, plus alkalinizing agents that make your urine less acidic.
Drink Lemon Water Each Day: To reach your daily quota of citric acid, dilute 2 ounces of lemon juice in 6 ounces of water and drink twice a day. Or, make lemony ice cubes — fill up most of an ice cube tray with water, then fill up the rest with lemon juice. Drop a few cubes into anything you drink throughout the day. You can also drink 16 to 32 ounces of lemonade daily, but make sure you’re not adding too much sugar.
Use Citrus in Your Cooking: Incorporating citrus into your meals also counts as increasing your citric acid intake! Instead of using creamy salad dressings, drizzle a lemon-lime vinaigrette over your bed of greens and squeeze fresh citrus juice over fruit salads. Also, try using lemons and limes in marinades for your favorite meats.

As always, remember to drink two liters of water a day and reduce your salt intake to keep kidney stones at bay.

Talk to the Experts

Keeping a glass of lemonade or lemon water by your side is a great (and refreshing) way to prevent kidney stones from forming, but it’s no substitute for professional medical treatment. If you frequently suffer from kidney stones, contact the nephrology experts at Southern Massachusetts Dialysis Group today! We can give you more information about how to keep your kidneys healthy and recommend the best treatment option for you.