Rethinking the role of urinary magnesium in calcium urolithiasis

J Endourol. 2001 Apr;15(3):233-5. doi: 10.1089/089277901750161638.


Background and purpose: The role of magnesium in urinary stone formation remains undefined. In vivo, magnesium inhibits stone formation in hyperoxaluric rats, and small clinical studies suggest a protective effect of magnesium supplementation in calcium oxalate stone formers. We performed a retrospective review of more than 7,000 stone patients to see if there is a relation between urinary magnesium and other stone risk variable constituents.

Materials and methods: A national database of stone formers categorized by residential ZIP code was queried, and, using strict inclusion criteria, 2,147 patients having pure calcium oxalate stones were identified. There were 1,912 (89%) eumagnesuric (43-246 mg/24 hours) and 235 (11%) hypomagnesuric (<43 mg/24 hours) patients.

Results: Patients with decreased urinary magnesium excretion had significantly less daily urine excretion of citrate, calcium, oxalate, uric acid, and sodium than the eumagnesuric group (p < 0.0001). Stone recurrence was slightly more common in the hypomagnesuric group, although the difference was not statistically significant. The percentage of patients voiding <1 L of urine per day was significantly higher in the hypomagnesuric group. In the eumagnesuric group, males outnumbered females 2:1, whereas hypomagnesuric patients showed a female predominance of 1.4:1.

Conclusion: The beneficial effects of urinary magnesium on stone formation may be less than previously reported. The role of oral magnesium supplementation and the subsequent increase in urinary magnesium in calcium urinary stone formation remains unknown. Our data suggest that its effect on or interaction with citrate may be influential on urinary citrate concentrations. If magnesium has a protective effect, it may work through pathways that enhance citrate excretion.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Calcium Oxalate / urine*
  • Diuresis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnesium / urine*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Urinary Calculi / physiopathology
  • Urinary Calculi / urine*


  • Calcium Oxalate
  • Magnesium