Probiotics and other key determinants of dietary oxalate absorption

Adv Nutr. 2011 May;2(3):254-60. doi: 10.3945/an.111.000414. Epub 2011 Apr 30.


Oxalate is a common component of many foods of plant origin, including nuts, fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, and is typically present as a salt of oxalic acid. Because virtually all absorbed oxalic acid is excreted in the urine and hyperoxaluria is known to be a considerable risk factor for urolithiasis, it is important to understand the factors that have the potential to alter the efficiency of oxalate absorption. Oxalate bioavailability, a term that has been used to refer to that portion of food-derived oxalate that is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), is estimated to range from 2 to 15% for different foods. Oxalate bioavailability appears to be decreased by concomitant food ingestion due to interactions between oxalate and coingested food components that likely result in less oxalic acid remaining in a soluble form. There is a lack of consensus in the literature as to whether efficiency of oxalate absorption is dependent on the proportion of total dietary oxalate that is in a soluble form. However, studies that directly compared foods of varying soluble oxalate contents have generally supported the proposition that the amount of soluble oxalate in food is an important determinant of oxalate bioavailability. Oxalate degradation by oxalate-degrading bacteria within the GIT is another key factor that could affect oxalate absorption and degree of oxaluria. Studies that have assessed the efficacy of oral ingestion of probiotics that provide bacteria with oxalate-degrading capacity have led to promising but generally mixed results, and this remains a fertile area for future studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Biological Availability
  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Hyperoxaluria / complications*
  • Hyperoxaluria / urine
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Oxalates / adverse effects
  • Oxalates / metabolism*
  • Oxalates / urine
  • Plants, Edible / metabolism
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Urolithiasis / chemically induced*
  • Urolithiasis / metabolism
  • Urolithiasis / urine


  • Oxalates