If you have an ailment that sends you to bed for an extended period of time, watch out! You have a much higher risk of getting kidney stones. These stones cause excruciating pain - something you don't want to experience, especially if you already have an illness that forces you to be bedridden. Fortunately, even completely sedentary patients can easily avoid the painful stones.

It's no secret that your body needs exercise. It's as essential to good health as food. Now if you are immobile, you're not putting weight on your bones, nor subjecting them to torque. Everyday bone stress causes tiny electrical charges in the bones. These charges are responsible for attracting and depositing calcium. So if you work your bones regularly, the everyday torque will help maintain them. Remove that stress and torque and your bones don't think they need to be so hard. So the electrical charges slow down. And you don't get as much calcium into your bones, making them weak and prone to fracture.

Once your bones lose all that calcium, it has to go somewhere. That calcium ends up passing through your kidneys and into your urine. When there's too much calcium, it begins to collect. And when that happens, you can get stones.

If you can't get out and exercise (the best way to prevent kidney stones), there's still a way to prevent them. A recent study provides the answer. It took 20 people with normal urinary calcium and imposed five weeks of strict bed rest. The researchers gave them a strict diet with measured calcium (800 mg), sodium, and animal protein. Bed rest increased their calcium loss by 50 mg per day. That's a lot of bone loss in my book!

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Next, the researchers gave half the subjects a placebo. Half received potassium citrate (1,638 mg) and magnesium citrate (256 mg). Citrate salts of these minerals not only enhance their absorption, but they also make calcium far more soluble. Citrate is actually a chelator of calcium. It can dissolve calcium stones.

The results prove it. The subject staking the citrate minerals passed urine that was far friendlier to calcium than those taking the placebo. But the citrate minerals protected against more than just calcium stones. They also protected against uric acid stones. You see, potassium and magnesium citrate will help alkalinize your urine, making uric acid more soluble.

Action to take: If you are bedridden or immobile, make it a point to take both potassium and magnesium citrate. You'll likely have much less risk of developing a painful and possibly dangerous kidney stone.

Ref: "Reduction of renal stone risk by potassium-magnesium citrate during 5 weeks of bed rest," Zerwekh JE, Odvina CV, et al, J Urol, 2007; 177(6): 2179-2184.
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