So far we’ve seen that glycine or collagen supplements can improve sleep, tendon health, and blood sugar. But many of you have asked me, should we be concerned that they can raise oxalate levels? This could potentially increase the risk of kidney stones.
There’s about a ten percent chance you could be at risk of a kidney stone some day, and if you’re in that minority you should be concerned about your exposure to oxalates. Glycine is very unlikely to generate oxalates, but collagen may, especially if you are deficient in vitamin B6. In this video, I describe how to figure out if this is relevant to you and what to do about it.
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Oxalates. Should you be concerned about glycine and collagen? Watch this video to find out.
Hi I’m Dr. Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com. And you’re watching Chris Masterjohn Lite, where the name of the game is “Details? Shmeetails. Just tell me what works!”
And I’ve told you that glycine or collagen that provides glycine can work for sleep when you take it before bed, or tendon health when you take it before exercise, and for blood sugar when you take it before meals, but many of you have asked me does glycine not work for oxalates?
Oxalates can cause problems in a variety of ways when they’re elevated in the blood, but it’s far more common for them to be elevated in the urine where they will contribute to kidney stones because oxalate binds to calcium to form calcium oxalate crystals. Now glycine can be converted to oxalate, but this is not a major fate of glycine. However in gelatin and collagen you have another amino acid, hydroxyproline. Oxalate can be a major fate of hydroxyproline and in fact gelatin supplements and presumably collagen supplements by extension, gelatin supplements have been shown to increase the urinary excretion of oxalate at fairly low doses that we’ve been talking about in these videos and can even increase the blood oxalate concentrations if the dose is really large such as 30 grams of gelatin.
Now that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem. About 1 in 10 people will develop a kidney stone at some point in their life and if that’s you then you want to be careful with gelatin and collagen. You can be proactive about finding out if that’s you by looking at your urinary oxalate excretion and looking at whether you have urinary crystals of calcium oxalate and discussing those results with your doctor to have it assessed of whether you are at high risk of kidney stones.
You could do a 24-hour urine oxalate excretion on the diet that you’re trying to assess that includes the gelatin or collagen in the way you typically consume it and see if it’s elevated above normal. You can look at calcium oxalate crystals in the same context. You could do a random or spot urine oxalate concentration or urinalysis for the crystals, but if you do that you should probably do it after consuming a meal with the gelatin or collagen as you would usually take it so that you can actually see what it’s doing in that context.
Now you want to make sure that you’re properly hydrated all the time. Hydration will protect you against the stones from forming, but also hydration will protect you against getting a false positive for the oxalate crystals because if you don’t have enough water it can make the crystals appear as if they’re very high. Now if you appear to be at risk it may make sense for you to try glycine supplements instead of gelatin or collagen and assess whether that takes care of the apparent problem with oxalates.
However there are also other things to consider. So, first of all, in order for hydroxyproline to be diverted away from generating oxalate and actually generate more glycine you need enough vitamin B6. So assess your vitamin B6 status, you can look at plasma levels of pyridoxal-5-phosphate, the active form, and you can look at markers that occur in your urine when B6 is deficient, such as xanthurenate, kynurenate and quinolinate on a urinary organic acids test. If you have signs of B6 deficiency consider supplementing. Some people may need doses as low as 5 milligrams, but for some reason some people only respond to doses between 30 and a 100 milligrams so you can see if that prevents the oxalate from accumulating.
There are other things that you can do to protect yourself against kidney stones in general and I’ll talk about those in the next video. Those would apply here, but the main thing that’s relevant to glycine is as follows: #1 assess your risk for developing oxalate stones. If it’s low then collagen and gelatin should not be a problem. If you fall into the substantial minority of people who are at high risk then you might want to assess your B6 status to see if that changes it and you may want to consider using glycine instead of collagen or gelatin because pure glycine is very unlikely to impact that risk.
All right, I hope you found this useful. Signing off, this is Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com. You’ve been watching Chris Masterjohn Lite and I will see you in the next episode.