Citrate, malate and alkali content in commonly consumed diet sodas: implications for nephrolithiasis treatment

J Urol. 2010 Jun;183(6):2419-23. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2010.02.2388. Epub 2010 Apr 18.


Purpose: Citrate is a known inhibitor of calcium stone formation. Dietary citrate and alkali intake may have an effect on citraturia. Increasing alkali intake also increases urine pH, which can help prevent uric acid stones. We determined citrate, malate and total alkali concentrations in commonly consumed diet sodas to help direct dietary recommendations in patients with hypocitraturic calcium or uric acid nephrolithiasis.

Materials and methods: Citrate and malate were measured in a lemonade beverage commonly used to treat hypocitraturic calcium nephrolithiasis and in 15 diet sodas. Anions were measured by ion chromatography. The pH of each beverage was measured to allow calculation of the unprotonated anion concentration using the known pK of citric and malic acid. Total alkali equivalents were calculated for each beverage. Statistical analysis was done using Pearson's correlation coefficient.

Results: Several sodas contained an amount of citrate equal to or greater than that of alkali and total alkali as a lemonade beverage commonly used to treat hypocitraturic calcium nephrolithiasis (6.30 mEq/l citrate as alkali and 6.30 as total alkali). These sodas were Diet Sunkist Orange, Diet 7Up, Sprite Zero, Diet Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Sierra Mist Free, Diet Orange Crush, Fresca and Diet Mountain Dew. Colas, including Caffeine Free Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke with Lime, had the lowest total alkali (less than 1.0 mEq/l). There was no significant correlation between beverage pH and total alkali content.

Conclusions: Several commonly consumed diet sodas contain moderate amounts of citrate as alkali and total alkali. This information is helpful for dietary recommendations in patients with calcium nephrolithiasis, specifically those with hypocitraturia. It may also be useful in patients with low urine pH and uric acid stones. Beverage malate content is also important since malate ingestion increases the total alkali delivered, which in turn augments citraturia and increases urine pH.

MeSH terms

  • Alkalies / administration & dosage*
  • Carbonated Beverages / analysis*
  • Citrates / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Malates / analysis*
  • Nephrolithiasis / diet therapy*


  • Alkalies
  • Citrates
  • Malates