Background: The amount of oxalate ingested may be an important risk factor in the development of idiopathic calcium oxalate nephrolithiasis. Reliable food tables listing the oxalate content of foods are currently not available. The aim of this research was to develop an accurate and reliable method to measure the food content of oxalate.
Methods: Capillary electrophoresis (CE) and ion chromatography (IC) were compared as direct techniques for the estimation of the oxalate content of foods. Foods were thoroughly homogenized in acid, heat extracted, and clarified by centrifugation and filtration before dilution in water for analysis. Five individuals consuming self-selected diets maintained food records for three days to determine their mean daily oxalate intakes.
Results: Both techniques were capable of adequately measuring the oxalate in foods with a significant oxalate content. With foods of very low oxalate content (<1.8 mg/100 g), IC was more reliable than CE. The mean daily intake of oxalate by the five individuals tested was 152 +/- 83 mg, ranging from 44 to 352 mg/day.
Conclusions: CE appears to be the method of choice over IC for estimating the oxalate content of foods with a medium (>10 mg/100 g) to high oxalate content due to a faster analysis time and lower running costs, whereas IC may be better suited for the analysis of foods with a low oxalate content. Accurate estimates of the oxalate content of foods should permit the role of dietary oxalate in urinary oxalate excretion and stone formation to be clarified. Other factors, apart from the amount of oxalate ingested, appear to exert a major influence over the amount of oxalate excreted in the urine.