Pitcher of water

Pitcher of water (Michael Tercha, Chicago Tribune / March 29, 2012)

As for calcium, Sorensen said it's important for everyone — but particularly older women — to be aware that cutting out dairy foods may actually contribute to kidney stones.

Calcium supplements are different, and it may be because they provide a large, isolated dose of the mineral.

People prone to stones should be "cautious" about calcium supplements, Sorensen said. But if a woman is on calcium to protect her bones, she should talk to her doctor about whether she can stick with it.

"For any woman who needs to take a calcium supplement," Sorensen said, "I would recommend taking it with a meal." That may help mitigate any effect of the calcium on stone formation.

In general, experts recommend that women older than 50 get 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day. In reality, few do. Of women in this study, for instance, 80 percent got less than the recommended amount of calcium.

When it comes to fluids, Sorensen said it's hard to make a specific recommendation.

"I usually tell patients, if you're a stone-former, whatever you've been getting is not enough," Sorensen said.

If you're not sure if you're getting enough, he noted, check the color of your urine. "If it's dark, that means you need fluids."

And "fluids," Sorensen said, can be any beverage, not just water, although for overall health — and waistline — filling up on sugary drinks is never a good idea.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/HmXHhT Journal of Urology, online March 14, 2012.