This week, Jill answers a listener question about vitamin D3 supplements and whether they increase your kidney stone risk.
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Who is Jill Harris?
Jill is a nurse and health coach that specializes in educating patients on kidney stone prevention. For more than 20 years she’s helped patients understand that kidney stones can be prevented with the right treatment plan. It’s one thing to be told to lower oxalate or drink more water, but HOW do you do it? That’s where she comes in. Through the educational resources at kidneystonediet.com, stone formers can learn everything they need to know to significantly lower new stone risk.
Who is Jeff Sarris?
Jeff’s co-founder of SPYR, a branding agency based out of Chicago, where he and his business partner Dave help awesome people like Jill create online platforms that make an impact. He’s also a certified health coach, Executive Producer of the Netflix documentary Minimalism, and host of the Starting Now podcast.
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Jeff Sarris: Welcome back to the Kidney Stone Diet podcast, the show about reducing your kidney stone risk and living your best life. I’m your host and fellow student, Jeff Sarris.
Jill Harris: I’m Jill Harris, your kidney stone prevention nurse. I’m still heated up from the last episode.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, the hoodie came off. You have the v-neck now.
Jill Harris: Having a flash!
Jeff Sarris: There’s so much fun merch now, two. I just always look at the shirts through the camera. I always mean to pick one up and I just have not yet, but I’ll need to.
Jill Harris: I’m telling you I’m really happy with–of course, Dave, who’s the third partner in Kidney Stone Diet, he does all our graphic design work and he does the website. He me makes everything beautiful. And he does such a great job. It’s, you know, professional-looking, despite the fact that I’m wearing it. And just happy and joyful. If you have to have a kidney stone, he did a great job. I love it.
Jeff Sarris: So we–
Jill Harris: I swear to God, Jeff, he’s gonna have me wearing friggin’ colors! The other day I wore the pink one. Not just like–it made me happy. Like all the colors. I was just wearing this one. Like, I don’t wear colors like that! And I’m like, “Oh, man.” I don’t know. They’re making me super happy.
Jeff Sarris: I mean, that is something worth noting, too. Just like last episode, we like reflected on how we’re feeling and if it is making you feel like more positive, that’s totally it’s like a such a low bar of something! “Oh, when I wear this color, I feel better.” But it’s like those little things, when we recognize them, that matters. It can make a difference.
Jill Harris: Look, everything makes a difference. I mean, again, I will always say this, wherever you can find little bips and boops of joy, you will get it. It doesn’t have to be a brand new car. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Just anywhere you get little bips of joy, wow, it’s life-changing. But you have to open your eyes and appreciate that you have to be looking for that.
Jeff Sarris: And, surprisingly, the little things are also sustainable more than say a car. It’s like you spend the money get a car and you’re like I have it. Now, I drive to the grocery store. It doesn’t change anything else, but the small things can make a huge impact because they’re so consistent over time.
Jill Harris: Yeah, well, real fast, I just want to say this to viewers. They’re like, “We just want to talk about kidney stones.” I know you do. Hold on. So there’s this new study just released and if you listen to a bird chirping for a few seconds–an international study–it will raise your happiness level up to eight hours. So I’m just saying, especially in the winter in Chicago. I mean, the holidays are over, I got my tree up. I’m gonna call it a winter tree, I got decorations for it. I’m gonna change over to a winter tree. Whatever you can do to raise your mind to get a little bit more joy, you typically make better decisions when you’re happier, more joyful. You’re kinder, you’re nicer to yourself to others. Look, I’m a believer of joy wherever you can get it. Ok, I’m done.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, before we don’t do another call, we should probably dive right into this one. We have one from Karen.
Hi, this is Karen and I am from New Whiteland, Indiana. In December of 2018/January 2019, I had a five millimeter calcium oxalate kidney stone blasted. I have been fine since thanks to you. Thanks to Jill. I am hypothyroid and take 112 micrograms levothyroxine. My levels are normal. I previously had osteopenia, now have osteoporosis. Despite taking vitamin three 1000 IU 25 micrograms. My primary care doctor wanted me to take Fosamax, but I really don’t want to take that. So he suggested over the counter vitamin D3 at 3000 IU or 75 micrograms. Will this give me kidney stones? Thank you! Bye!
Here’s what to know about Vitamin D3
Jill Harris: Karen’s voice made my heart happy. I don’t know why. It just did. She just sounds nice. I love you, Karen. So, it’s a great question. Vitamin D, and this is another one I get all the time, so vitamin D. “My doctor wants me on vitamin D. I have osteopenia.” Now, Karen says she had osteopenia, now it’s increased to osteoporosis, so that doctor wants her to take care of that. So Karen’s question is, “I am on 1000 IUs a day of vitamin D. He told me to increase it to 3000 IUs each day. Will this increase my risk for kidney stones? Because, again, I live in Chicago, I’m on 2000 IUs and I have normal levels of vitamin D. And I know that because I get a blood test to make sure every year.
Now, this year, my vitamin D was low on the 2000. My doctor said, “You’ve got to increase that, Jill. So I want you to take 4000 IUs for a few weeks, and then we’ll see where you’re at. And then you can go back down to your maintenance dose and we’ll check that.” So, the reason I’m telling you my stuff is because you get it checked. So, Karen’s like, “is that going to increase my risk for kidney stones?” Most likely not. If you got yours checked at the 1000 level and the doctors like “We need to up it and check,” meaning you got a blood draw. And it’s low on that the doctors like we’re going to increase that to 3000. “Okay, cool, Doc, when am I coming in for a blood test to see how that 3000 IUs hits my blood?” The range is between like 20 and 80 for vitamin D.
You really don’t want it to be below 40. It gets to be a little low then. Okay, so 40 is a nice little range for it. Will it increase her range, the 3000 IUs all the way to like 70 or 80? Doubtful, but she needs a blood test to see. So there’s a couple things. Now, we all know I don’t do bone disease, but I hear a lot about it in my practice because wherever there is a kidney stone clinic, a bone clinic is close by. Dr. Coe always says that because these disease states go hand-in-hand. So, many patients will have kidney stones and bone issues for different reasons. One of the reasons is most of us adults have not gotten any calcium needs met for decades. Decades! We stopped drinking milk because we heard it was bad for us, or we’re allergic to it, or we have lactose intolerance, or it causes whatever.
And then, you know, we didn’t have the nut milks back then. So everybody’s been walking around with not enough calcium. So, for you, Karen, if you were my student or patient, I would say, “Well, you know, what’s your history with calcium? Are you getting some now because that’s going to be super important, especially since you have the increased diagnosis of osteoporosis.” The other thing I’m going to ask is, you might want to ask your doctor, because it sounds like under this doctor’s care, I’m not blaming anybody. I’m just saying it sounds like you have your primary and a lot of them can treat your bone disease, no problem. But I’m just wondering, was there enough guidance to keep you from going to the osteopenia to the osteoporosis now?
You can ask the doctor, “Do you think I should get an endocrinologist on board with us to look at things further?” So there’s a few things I would ask you, but the vitamin D, 3000 IUs, is that going to cause people to make kidney stones? Most likely, no because it’s a low dose. But you have to get your blood checked to see where increased doses of vitamin D take your blood level. Hope that makes sense. Does that make sense, Jeff?
Jeff Sarris: Absolutely! That’s something that you mentioned, like if you’re taking supplements, why? Do you know you need to because if you do, then they can very well be very important to all of it. One of the things, too, with D, it works like synergistically with calcium. Am I correct there?
Jill Harris: Yes, yes, yes! And then, you know, maybe the doctor wants also to add some vitamin K in there, because that will help the vitamin D and absorption. So there’s a lot of different routes, she can go here, but as far as what we’re talking about in the Kidney Stone Diet, I would definitely ask her–I wouldn’t have a problem with the vitamin D at 3000. Of course, you get your blood checked to see where it raises you. And, also, before you do raise the the vitamin D supplement, do you even need to? Meaning does she get a lot of sun? Is her vitamin D low, that is warranting the increase or are there other things going on and it’s not a vitamin D problem?
So, you know, these kinds of questions are awesome and they can get a little meaty. There’s always lots of other things to ask us. Typically, not just the black-and-white question, but to answer her vitamin D at 3000 units should not be a problem. But one must get a blood test to see how that hits your blood. Okay, and see how much it raises your vitamin D, from whatever the baseline was at the 1000 IUs.
Jeff Sarris: And it ties right back to the checking in with ourselves. This is checking in with our bloodwork and checking in to make sure that we are understanding what we’re doing and how it’s impacting everything.
Jill Harris: Absolutely! You know, it’s interesting, though, we patients–I’m a patient with all my cancer care–and even though I’m a nurse, I’m not a cancer nurse. Again, when you’re the patient, it’s all very scary. You kind of lose any kind of rationale that you have. So, you know, we don’t know what we don’t know. I often have patients that come to me, and they’re like, “Well, I was on vitamin D, like 10,000 units for I don’t know a year. Nobody told me to go get a blood test. I had no idea. I knew it was low. They told me to take that and then now my vitamin D’s 125. So, they’re overabsorbing calcium now, so much that now there’s extra in their urine. They don’t urinate a lot. That calcium sitting in there and that’s where oxalate and phosphate can connect to calcium and form crystals. So, it can be a problem.
So we don’t know what we don’t know. If our health care professionals don’t tell us to get something checked, we don’t know to do that. And you go into the primaries office the next year, and they do a vitamin D check, “Oh, you’re still on that 10,000, Crystal?” “Yeah, you told me to take it!” “Oh, we didn’t recheck it!” Now, this happens all the time, folks. That’s why we tried to do these videos. Any kind of small help we can get out there, just things like what you should ask your doctor. That service that we have at kidneystonediet.com is invaluable. Here’s your urine collection results. Here are the things you need to talk to your doctor about. Here’s what they could mean, talk to the doctor about. And patients are like “Thank God I called you because I would not have asked any of these things!”
And if the doctor doesn’t bring it up, it doesn’t get taken care of. And, you know, going through your urine collection is super important because that’s how you get on the best treatment plan to never make another stone. So, it’s super important that we know what to ask our doctors that we’re educating. That’s all I’m trying to say we must be our own advocates and we must get our information from credible people so we can be armed with our tools before we go into the doctor’s office, especially, nowadays, folks. After COVID, it’s been a real mess trying to get into an appointment. The doctors, God bless them, they’re running from patient to patient, it’s really bad. So we’ve got to really set ourselves up for an A+ appointment.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, for sure. You can find all those resources, the urine analysis, and the the “Have a better doctor’s visit” free resource, all at kidneystonediet.com, where you can find just all of it. Because that is so important. Like you said, we don’t know what we don’t know. We’re just trying to help in every different way we can: in people’s ears, through video, through the writing on the site, through all the different things. So, definitely, head over to the site, check everything out, sign up for the free weekly newsletter that Jill sends out to help keep you on track. You can just find the plethora of information, the premium course, the meal plans, and all of that.
Oh, and I mentioned last time, but we’re on Patreon now! So if you wanted to, there are people out there who ask how can we support the show, or just support the platform, just the message in general. If that’s you, it’s patreon.com/kidneystonediet. It’s no pressure. This is just so it exists, so people have a way to support if they care to. Then, I’ll do a little shout out at the end of the episode. But, yeah, I think with that, that’s a good place to wrap up. So, thanks again for your question.
If you’re out there with a question, the number is 773-789-8763 and we will feature you on a future episode. We really appreciate everyone who’s subscribed, given the thumbs up, leave us comments on YouTube, it means a lot. But if you listen, if you’re on Apple podcasts, on Spotify, a little rating goes a long way. This should just be as long as you’ve listened to a couple episodes, I think on Spotify, then you have a rating option where you can choose, hopefully, five stars. If it isn’t five stars, reach out. Maybe there’s something you want to see that we’re not touching on or give us a call. We’d love to make sure we hit all of the knowledge, everything that you can improve your life, improve your outcomes in any way and we want to want to do that for you. Yeah, so I think with that, we’ll just wrap for this week.
Jill Harris: Thank you, Karen. I love you, Karen. Thank you for calling us.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, thank you so much and we will see you next time.
Jill Harris: Bye, guys!