What it is, risks, how to avoid it and more


Many fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains contain a naturally occurring compound called oxalic acid, sometimes referred to as oxalate. Although small amounts of oxalic acid are not harmful, this compound can inhibit the absorption of other important nutrients.

For this reason, some people refer to oxalic acid as an anti-nutrient. For some people it can too increase the risk of kidney stones.

Certain gut bacteria can metabolize or break down oxalic acid. This prevents it from binding to minerals and interfering with nutrient absorption.

This article takes a closer look at oxalic acid and the risks associated with it. It also lists food sources of the compound and explains how people can decrease their intake.

Oxalic acid is a common organic compound. A number of living organisms – including fungi, bacteria, plants, animals and humans – produce it.

Technically, oxalate is formed when the oxalic acid in plants binds to minerals. However, many people use the terms interchangeably.

The body can either produce oxalate as a waste product or absorb it from food.

Oxalate can combine with other minerals in the body to form compounds like calcium oxalate and iron oxalate. Then people can remove these oxalate compounds in the urine or stool.

However, some individuals have high oxalate levels can develop Kidney stones.

Although oxalic acid occurs naturally in plants and humans, it also has a variety of industrial uses. These uses include:

  • Remove rust
  • to remove stains
  • peel off and clean
  • remove wax
  • clean wood
  • dyeing of textiles

Laboratories may also use oxalic acid and oxalate salts as anticoagulants in blood samples.

Oxalate is harmless in small amounts. However, higher levels can decrease the body’s absorption of minerals and contribute to the formation of kidney stones.

nutrient intake

People refer to oxalates as anti-nutrients. This is because they bind to certain minerals and prevent the body from absorbing and using them.

A good example is spinach. Although it is high in the important nutrients calcium and magnesium, it is also high in oxalate. The oxalate forms a complex with these minerals and can inhibit absorption.

Kidney stones

The other problem with oxalate is that it can contribute to kidney stones.

Most people have small amounts of oxalate and calcium in their urinary tract at some point. Usually they remain resolved, and there are no problems associated with them.

However, in some people, the compounds form crystals and then kidney stones. research has shown that this is a particular problem when oxalate levels are high and urine volume is low.

There are different types of kidney stones containing different minerals, but calcium oxalate is the most common. Therefore, if a person is prone to developing kidney stones, their doctor may advise reducing their intake of foods rich in oxalates. You should also get enough calcium and avoid vitamin C supplements.

Learn more about kidney stones.

Certain bacteria in the digestive system can metabolize some dietary oxalate before it binds to minerals. This process can prevent the potentially harmful effects of oxalate.

A type of gut bacteria called Oxalobacter formigenes breaks down oxalate and uses it as energy. The presence of these bacteria in the gut microbiome significantly reduces the amount of oxalate in a person’s body.

Lots of people have O. formigenes in her gut. According to research, it is present in the feces of about 60-80% of adults.

Some people who have recurrent calcium oxalate kidney stones have fewer of these bacteria.

Certain factors, such as taking antibiotics, can decrease the number of good bacteria in the gut. In addition, people with altered bowel function, such as B. People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a higher risk the development of kidney stones.

People usually take oxalate through food sources. Almost all plants, including fruits and vegetables, contain oxalates, which are most concentrated in the leaves and seeds. However, the amount they contain varies significantly.

Vegetables that are particularly rich in oxalate are:

Other oxalate-rich food sources include:

The amount that the body can absorb from food depends on the amount of soluble oxalates in the food and the bioavailability of those oxalates. For example, tea has a significantly higher oxalate intake than spinach or rhubarb.

The method of food preparation and cooking can also affect oxalate levels. Soaking certain vegetables and legumes Can reduce the amount of oxalate they contain.

The best way to avoid oxalate is to reduce your intake of oxalate-rich foods.

It is important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. However, if a person is concerned about the number of oxalates in certain foods, they can substitute low-oxalate alternatives. Some examples are:

Cooking vegetables also reduces their oxalate content. Research shows that boiling can be removed up to 76% of oxalates, depending on the vegetable.

Getting enough dietary calcium is also important. This mineral can bind to oxalate in the digestive system and reduce absorption by the body. Therefore, consuming milk, yogurt, or cheese along with foods containing oxalates can reduce the likelihood of problems like kidney stones.

Oxalate is a compound found in many plant foods, including spinach, Swiss chard, and kale.

In the digestive system, oxalate can form complexes with minerals such as calcium and interfere with their absorption. Additionally, a diet high in oxalates can cause some people to develop kidney stones.

Doctors may advise some people to eat a low-oxalate diet. You can do this by replacing high-oxalate foods with low-oxalate alternatives, cooking vegetables, and eating calcium-rich foods alongside high-oxalate foods.


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