Know Oxalic Acid and Its Impact on Health

Know Oxalic Acid and Its Impact on Health

Oxalic acid may still sound foreign to some people. In fact, many of these substances are contained in the food we consume daily. However, if the amount is excessive in the body, oxalic acid can cause kidney stone disease.

In the body, oxalic acid plays a role in metabolic processes, namely to bind minerals and make them easier to absorb and circulate throughout the body. In addition, oxalic acid also plays a role in the repair process of body cells by forming RNA.

Various Sources of Oxalic Acid

Oxalic acid or oxalic acid is an organic compound found in various plants. Some types of foods and drinks that contain lots of oxalic acid are:
  • Vegetables, such as spinach, beets, kale, sweet potatoes, and potatoes
  • Nuts, such as peanuts, okra, almonds, and cashews
  • Fruits, including star fruit, avocado, oranges, grapes, and dates
  • Wheat
  • Cocoa or chocolate
  • Stevia Sweetener
In addition to being contained in various types of foods or drinks above, oxalic acid can also be formed from the metabolism of vitamin C or ascorbic acid.

Once consumed, oxalic acid will form bonds with minerals and form other compounds. For example, when bound to calcium, oxalate forms a compound called calcium oxalate. Meanwhile, if bound with iron, oxalate will form iron oxalate.

The formation of these compounds mostly occurs in the large intestine, but can also occur in the kidneys and urinary tract. Normally, these compounds will be excreted from the body through feces or urine.

However, if the amount of oxalic acid is excessive in the body, the minerals that bind to the substance will easily precipitate or crystallize. This can increase the risk of various health problems.

Impact of Oxalic Acid on Health

The following are some conditions that can occur if the amount of oxalic acid is excessive in the body:

1. Increase the risk of kidney stones

When the amount of oxalic acid is excessive, calcium will form bonds with the substance. In the urinary tract, too much calcium oxalate can crystallize or precipitate to form kidney stones.

Small kidney stones often cause no symptoms and can pass on their own in the urine. However, if the size is large, kidney stones can cause complaints in the form of pain, nausea, and bloody urine.

In addition to the formation of calcium oxalate, kidney stones can also be caused by minerals or other substances, such as uric acid stones, struvite stones, and cystine stones.

2. Inhibits nutrient absorption

Excessive amounts of oxalate can cause the absorption of nutrients in the intestine to be disrupted. This is because oxalate is easily bound to nutrients and various minerals.

For example, spinach is rich in iron, calcium, and oxalic acid. Although highly nutritious, excessive intake of oxalic acid in spinach can form bonds with iron and calcium, so that these two minerals cannot be absorbed by the body.

Therefore, to meet the needs of calcium and iron, it is not enough just to eat spinach. You also need to eat other foods, such as iron-rich meat and calcium-rich milk or soybeans.

3. Causes the accumulation of oxalate

The buildup of oxalic acid in the body can cause a condition called hyperoxaluria. This condition occurs when the amount of oxalic acid in the body is too much so that it accumulates in various parts of the body, such as the kidneys, bones, and blood vessels.

This buildup of oxalic acid can occur due to genetic disorders, impaired intestinal function, or due to excessive intake of oxalic acid and vitamin C. When a person experiences hyperoxaluria, he will be at high risk of experiencing disorders of the kidney organs, such as kidney stones and kidney failure.

4. Cause drug interactions

Oxalic acid in the body can cause drug interactions. This means the buildup of oxalic acid can interfere with the effectiveness of treatment against certain diseases.

Some examples of drugs that can interact with oxalic acid are acyclovir, aspirin, cimetidine, and pantoprazole. Oxalic acid can also interact with antibiotics, such as cefadroxil and tetracycline.

Should You Avoid Foods Containing Oxalic Acid?

Most foods containing oxalic acid also contain nutrients that are good for the body such as vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.

Therefore, healthy people do not need to stay away from foods containing oxalic acid. Staying away from foods high in oxalate, such as vegetables and fruits, will actually make the body lack of nutrients.

A low-oxalate diet is usually recommended for people suffering from certain diseases, such as kidney stones and indigestion, or for someone who has recently had bariatric surgery.

If you want to follow a low-oxalic acid diet or want to find out more about foods that need to be avoided to prevent the buildup of oxalic acid in the body, you can consult a nutritionist.