So what is calcification? The word itself is used to describe “calcium deposits.” When applied in a negative context, this refers to calcium deposits in the soft tissues. Calcification can also be used in a positive context to describe a healthy buildup of calcium in our bones. The word can also be used in a geological context to describe calcium deposits in the environment. But in the context of this book, the word calcification will usually be used in the negative context to describe calcium deposits in the soft tissues. This means that the calcium that is supposed to be deposited in your bones is being lodged in your soft tissues where is does not belong. This can result in a variety of negative health problems. We have all heard of kidney stones — this is nothing more than calcification of the kidneys. While this results in excruciating pain, most calcifications are “silent.” In fact, calcification of your organs can start in early childhood and symptoms won’t appear until many years later in life.
The condition can manifest itself in many ways: Heart disease, cancer, wrinkled skin, arthritis, kidney stones, osteoporosis, dental problems, Alzheimer’s disease, bone spurs, senility, cataracts and many other health problems. In fact, over a hundred different conditions can be related to calcification. For example, insomnia can be caused by calcification of the pineal gland. This gland produces the hormone melatonin. This hormone is released at night to produce the drowsiness that puts us to sleep. Melatonin may also have important anti-aging properties, if you suffer from insomnia, your doctor will probably prescribe sleeping pills or send you to a psychiatrist. Most doctors will never diagnose a condition as obscure as pineal gland calcification.
Although it is not widely publicized, much of the plaque in our arteries is composed of calcium deposits, Unfortunately. there are no expensive drugs available to combat the problem, and therefore, there is no reason for anyone to publicize the condition. In fact, with all the cholesterol lowering drugs on the market, heart disease still remains the number one cause of death in the United States and most other countries. In case you haven’t heard, the cholesterol theory of heart disease has been debunked along time ago. The statistics speak for themselves. With all the new cholesterol lowering drugs, there has been little or no corresponding drop in the rate of heart attacks and strokes. The only thing these drugs do is to lower your cholesterol — but this has never been shown to actually lower your risk of vascular disease.
If you read a lot of health books, then you have probably seen the word “atherosclerosis. You may have also seen a similar word arteriosclerosis.” In health books, these words are often used interchangeably; however, these words actually have two distinctly different meanings. Atherosclerosis actually refers to fatty deposits” in the arteries. This is usually used to describe cholesterol deposits. The word arteriosclerosis actually means a hardening of the artenes and is usually used to describe the buildup of calcijrn in the artery walls. That is: calcification.
There are very few health books that address the problem of calcification. The only book that I know of on the subject is The Calcium bomb, by Douglas MuIhall and Katja Hansen. The main focus of their book is nanobacteria. The theory is that nanobacteria form the core of these calcium deposits. This theory has been disputed by scientists at NIH who produced calcications in a sterile media.’ This means that there are other factors involved in calcification, and these other factors are the focus of this book.
What causes calcification?
There are many different factors involved in calcification. The most widely accepted theory has to do with excess acid, a condition called acidosis. If you are an avid health reader, then you have probably heard of the acid/alkaline theory of disease. This theory suggests that most people are prone to the acidic side of the pH scale and that this is the
underlying cause of many diseases. It is believed that eating foods that are acid forming can cause your body’s pH to drop to the acidic side. When this happens. your body draws calcium out of the bones to counteract any excess acidity in your body. Because of its high alkalinity, calcium is one of our body's main buffering agents. Many antacids contain calcium because it is so effective at combating acid indigestion. Unfortunately, all this calcium flowing through your bloodstream may contribute to soft-tissue calcifications. Contrary to what the calcium enthusiasts say, taking extra calcium is not the answer to combating acidosis. In fact, one of the main dangers of acidosis is that it causes soft-tissue calcification. It does this by drawing calcium out of the bones to neutralize the acid. Taking extra calcium will only add more fuel to the fire, It is the equivalent of using water to put Out an electrical fire. Therefore, it is suggested that keeping your body’s pH in a neutral state can prevent calcifications. The big question is; what is causing this condition that is often called acidosis? Several theories exist. For instance, an excess of acidic minerals, such as phosphorus, chlorine and sulfur can lower the body’s pH. Your body will then draw calcium out of the bones to bind with acidic minerals, thus lowering the excess acidity. This is especially dangerous when phosphorus is present, as most calcifications are composed of calcium phosphate. Most meats and processed foods are loaded with phosphorus, and cola drinks are notorious for their phosphorus content And ironically, dairy products have a high phosphorus content. Cutting back on high phosphorus containing foods may be an important factor in preventing calcifications.
Magnesium intake is also another factor. Like calcium, magnesium is highly alkaline and has the ability to bind to phosphorus to counter its acidity. The only difference is that magnesium does not calcify into hard plaques like calcium does. For this reason, magnesium can play a major role in preventing soft- tissue calcifications, In fact. I often refer to magnesium as the anti-calcification mineral. It is estimated that approximately 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium. The mineral magnesium is very difficult to get from the diet alone. Even foods that are supposed to contain magnesium are often deficient in this mineral, This is due to mineral depletion of our farm soils, Modern agricultural methods often do not add magnesium and other minerals to the soil. Over time these minerals are depleted from the soil. As a result, many foods that are supposed to contain magnesium are devoid of this Important mineral Magnesium is also a “macro-mineral.” This means that it is required in large quantities. Most multi-vitamin supplements contain little or no magnesium. And furthermore. your need for magnesium may be increased by a high intake of calcium and phosphorus. In fact, magnesium is often referred to as “natures calcium channel blocker.” It helps to counteract some of the negative effects of excess calcium. This may explain some of the conflicting studies involving calcium intake, For example, calcium promoters often claim that many long-lived cultures live in areas that have highly mineralized water, And therefore, the high level of calcium is responsible for their longevity. The fact is that their water probably contains high levels of magnesium, which tends to counteract the negative effects of calcium. This water also has many other important minerals, which the calcium promoters fail to mention. A while back, I had read a book entitled: ‘The Calcium factor, by Robert Barefoot. This book is riddled with half-truths and outright lies. You will have to pardon my negativity, I normally have a positive attitude towards others; however, it just sickens me to see people who put profit above the health and well being of others The author was merely trying to sell his coral calcium supplements. This book is riddled with so much technical mumbo jumbo that no lay person would even be able to grasp what it all means But when all is said and done, the fact remains that America has the highest intake of calcium and yet has the highest incidence of osteoporosis. This fact is consistent with almost every population study ever done. That is, the cultures with the highest intake of calcium, also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis and sort-tissue calcifications. Conversely, most cultures that subsist on a low calcium diet also have a low incidence of osteoporosis In fact, in a 12- year Harvard study of 78,000 women, those who drank milk three times a day actually broke more bones than women who rarely drank milk.2 Similarly, a 1994 study of elderly men and women in Sydney, Australia, showed that higher dairy product consumption was associated with increased fracture risk. Those with the highest dairy product consumption had approximately double the risk of hip fracture compared to those with the lowest consumption.3 The average daily calcium intake for South African blacks is about 200 mg’s daily whereas the daily calcium intake for African-Americans is more than 1.000 mg. Yet the hip fracture rate for African-Americans compared to South African blacks is nine times greater! . For more information, visit these sites: www.strongbones.org. and www.notmilk.com
Despite all this news, most people still believe that dairy products can prevent osteoporosis, when in fact all the evidence is to the contrary. Some say that the high level of protein contained in milk is what is causing the osteoporosis. Protein is acid forming, and all this acid must be neutralized by alkaline minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Another theory has to do with excess calcium causing the bone cells to wear out. Most of our cells including our bone cells have a limited number of times that they can replicate. When calcium is consumed, specialized cells called osteoblasts are called upon to build new bone tissue. An estimated 50 to 70% of the composing osteoblasts die in the composition of new bone. The more their activity is stimulated, the more they die If too much calcium is consumed on a regular basis, the replacement of osteoblasts maybe increased all this time, thus resulting in osteoporosis later in life, This theory is consistent with many population studies showing that a higher intake of calcium results in a higher incidence of osteoporosis later in life. The question is: What is the source of this calcium? Is it from a dairy or non-diary source? This makes a big difference, as dairy sources are high in protein and phosphorus. Therefore, the big question is whether it is the excessive calcium or the excess protein and phosphorus that is causing the increase in osteoporosis This question remains to be answered But one thing that we do know for sure, and that is that a high level of protein makes dairy products an inferior source of calcium. In fact, most animal proteins contain higher levels of acid-forming, sulfur-containing amino acids, such as cysteine and methionine. That is why I think vegetable protein is better for you than animal protein Many health books call vegetable protein incomplete. But you can simply combine vegetable sources to form a complete protein. Most basic nutrition books will provide information on this.
Much of this information may be contrary to what we have all been told; after all, doesn’t protein build strong muscles? And what about all of those bodybuilding magazines? Didn’t those muscle men on the cover all get big by eating lots of protein? Actually they all got big by lifting weights. The people selling protein supplements all want to convince us that we need lots of protein. When in reality, most of us are getting too much protein. And this all breaks down into acidic waste, thus drawing calcium out of the bones and causing calcification The reality is that big muscles do not necessarily mean a healthy body. Statistically speaking, most bodybuilders don’t live much longer than their sedentary counterparts. And those that do live longer may attribute their health to diet and lifestyle choices such as not smoking and shunning junk food. In fact, I have seen many instances of athletes dying at a very young age. The muscle magazines will rarely if ever put negative reports in their publications. That would be bad for business.
Another factor that may be contributing to excess acid production is sugar. You’ve probably heard it a hundred times: Sugar is bad for you. Statistically speaking, populations wt’o consume a diet low in sugar have a low incidence of common diseases. In fact, this statistic is consistent in virtually every study. The fact is that there are safe alternatives to sugar, and I am not talking about aspartame (nutrasweet). I was referring to stevia, which is currently the only sweetener that I am recommending. Stevia has a long history of safe use in South America, For more information on alternative sweeteners, see appendix 3.
And for more information on the acid/alkaline theory of calcification, see my chapter entitled: The pH factor.”
Section two: beating calcifications
There are many ways to combat calcifications. We have already talked about the many possible causes of calcifications and the role of certain minerals such as magnesium in preventing these calcifications. In the next section of this book I will cover other methods of preventing calcifications, such as vitamin K. I will also go into further detail on magnesium This will include details on how much magnesium is enough and what form is best to use.
Magnesium: the anti-calcification mineral
Without a doubt, getting enough magnesium is our first line of defense against calcifications. When magnesium levels are adequate, it prevents calcium from entering our cells, thus preventing calcifications. In a healthy body, calcium usually exists outside of our cells. But when magnesium is deficient, calcium can leak in and cause damage -- That is, soft-tissue calcifications With all the talk about how we need to get more calcium, it surprises me how few people are promoting the benefits of magnesium. The fact is that we need less calcium and more magnesium. Both magnesium and calcium are chief buffering agents to counteract excess acidity. The difference is that magnesium does not calcify the way that calcium does. We can safely counter many of the negative effects of excess acidity by simply getting more magnesium. And getting more magnesium may reduce some of the negative effects of too much calcium. Many calcium supplements now include magnesium. Unfortunately, the ratio of calcium to magnesium is often poor. Many older nutrition books recommend a 2 to 1 ratio of calcium to magnesium. However, these figures are way out of date. Calcium is now very prevalent in todays diet. Unless you are on a dairy-free diet, you should keep your calcium supplements to a minimum. I know that this advice is contrary to what most of us have been taught to believe. After all. “calcium builds strong bones,” doesn’t it? Well, that’s what the dairy industry says. Of course, the dairy industry makes millions of dollars promoting their products. Its like I said in the previous chapter, calcium does not prevent or cure osteoporosis. If it did, then there would not be an epidemic of osteoporotic diseases in cultures that have a high intake of calcium. Magnesium on the other hand, has been shown in numerous studies to prevent and reverse osteoporosis. It is believed that magnesium works by helping to regulate the transport of calcium. Some refer to magnesium as the glue that holds calcium together. While this is a poor analogy. it also expresses the point that getting enough magnesium is vital for bone health and of course from preventing calcium from accumulating in the soft tissues. But getting enough magnesium can be very tricky. Food sources are very scarce And this problem is compounded by mineral depletion of our farm soils. For this reason, I am recommending the use of magnesium supplements. But you must be cautious about what form of magnesium to use as a supplement. Most forms of magnesium sold in health food stores are sold as magnesium oxide. This form is poorly absorbed and can cause diarrhea. The human body was just not meant to absorb inorganic mineral salts such as magnesium oxide. The best magnesium supplement is a chelated form. A chelate is an organic acid that binds to a mineral to help the body absorb it. This more closely resembles minerals as they come from nature. Don’t confuse chelated minerals with ‘chelation therapy.” That is an entirely different matter, and will be discussed later in this book.
Many mineral supplements are now chelated to enhance absorption and to decrease the negative effects that some inorganic mineral salts can cause. In the case of magnesium, that negative effect is diarrhea. You may have heard of something called milk of magnesia,’ which is used as a laxative. This is nothing more than magnesium hydroxide. Epsom salt is also used as a laxative. This is nothing more than magnesium sulfate. There are many so-called experts that will tell you that it makes no difference whether a mineral is chelated or not. This is still open to debate. But I know from personal experience that inorganic forms of magnesium can cause diarrhea This effect may be decreased if the meal is consumed with some protein. The protein supplies amino acids that naturally chelate the minerals. However, it is still best to use chelated forms, especially in the case of magnesium. I usually recommend magnesium malate, as it supplies malic acid. This substance has been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. There are many other types of chelates available. I recommend avoiding forms that contain aspartic acid (aspartate) Several studies have shown that aspartic acid, when taken in excess, can damage brain cells. Many magnesium supplements are in the form of magnesium aspartate, and until more information becomes available, I advise against its use. Aspartic acid is one of the main ingredients in the sweetener aspartame (nutrasweet). The use of this sweetener has become very controversial over the years. It has been linked to everything from brain tumors to seizures, and many other conditions. The makers of aspartame say it is safe, but the evidence against its use is utterly overwhelming. I have included more details on the dangers of aspartame in the appendix section of this book.
How much magnesium?
There is some debate as to just how much magnesium is enough The so-called official
recommended intake is currently 400 milligrams daily. But this may be too low for some people. As indicated earlier, your daily intake of other minerals such as calcium and phosphorus may increase your need for magnesium. Both of these minerals are abundant in dairy products. Therefore, a high intake of dairy products means that you should take additional magnesium. You can safely take up to 1000 milligrams a day. But this should be in divided doses. This is important, as magnesium is best absorbed in smaller doses throughout the day. I recommend taking 200 milligrams with each meal. This will ensure optimal absorption. and reduce the chances of negative effects, such as diarrhea. In fact, diarrhea is the only known side effect of excess magnesium. However, if you have kidney problems, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor before taking magnesium supplements. This is just a precaution of course. Remember magnesium is a naturally occurring mineral found in food; it is not a drug. In fact, numerous studies have shown magnesium to prevent dozens of conditions. It is estimated that 90% of all heart attacks and strokes could be prevented if everyone got enough magnesium. When you consider that fact that heart disease is the number one cause of death in most countries, you will realize the importance of getting adequate magnesium. For more information on the benefits of magnesium, see the magnesium website at: www.mgwater.com
Also check out the following books:
“The Miracle of Magnesium, by Carolyn Dean
‘The Magnesium Factor, by Mildred Seelig
When looking for a magnesium supplement, be careful not to confuse it with another similar sounding mineral called “manganese.” This is not the same thing. In fact it is an entirely different mineral than magnesium. It is very easy to confuse the two, so look closely at the labels.
High blood pressure and magnesium
If you have high blood pressure then you need to read the following: Many people with high blood pressure have found that their blood pressure returns to normal after a few weeks of magnesium supplementation. The key word is “normalize.’ Magnesium does not actually lower your blood pressure, at least not in people with normal blood pressure. But if your blood pressure is high, it can in many cases bring it back to normal. This can be an issue for people who regularly take medication to lower their blood pressure. If you are currently taking anti- hypertensive medication, and you start taking magnesium, then you must carefully monitor your blood pressure on a daily basis and reduce your dosage of anti-hypertensive medication. In most cases you can reduce or eliminate your need for such medication within a few weeks.
I have recently received a number of emails from people who claimed that their magnesium supplements caused them to develop low blood pressure. In every case, the person was using anti-hypertensive medication in conjunction with their magnesium supplements. The magnesium caused their blood pressure to return to normal, and if a person with normal blood pressure were to take anti-hypertensive medication, they would get low blood pressure. Some people have actually stopped taking their magnesium supplements because of fear that their blood pressure may get too low. This is something that you dont want to do. If you have high blood pressure, then you are probably already magnesium deficient. And therefore, getting enough magnesium can mean the difference between life and death. Virtually 90% of people afflicted with hypertension have found that thetr blood pressure becomes normal after a few weeks of magnesium supplementation. I would normally say that you should work with your doctor, but many doctors will advise you to avoid magnesium supplements because they know that they will lose a patient if you start to take magnesium. I know that many people may find this hard to believe, but it is true, In fact, people who get enough magnesium usually live very long healthy lives.
The only reliable dietary sources of magnesium are the dark leafy green plants that contain chlorophyll. The green color indicates that chlorophyll is present. The problem with most leafy greens is that these foods also contain high levels of oxalic acid. which may contribute to certain types of calcifications Furthermore, these oxalates may also bind to magnesium and inhibit its absorption. The only form of chlorophyll that does not contain significant quantities of oxalic acid are the cereal grasses such as wheat and barley grass. These are often sold in health food stores as powdered drink mixes. Some people believe that the chlorophyll in these supplements is very unstable and will degrade over time. And most of the isolated chlorophyll supplements (capsules and tablets) sold in health food stores are said to be altered: That is. they contain copper instead of magnesium. This is apparently done to stabilize the chlorophyll molecule, For this reason, many people are growing their own wheatgrass for juicing. This practice has become popular among health enthusiasts worldwide In fact, there is a whole community of people who grow wheatgrass for juicing. If you have the time and a little ambition, you can grow your own wheatgrass at home for juicing. Wheatgrass provides a vast array of essential nutrients and is especially high in both magnesium and vitamin K. As expressed throughout this book, these two nutrients are absolutely essential for preventing soft-tissue calcifications. And this may explain many of the miraculous healing abilities that so many have attributed to the consumption of wheatgrass juice. In fact, wheatgrass is said to contain virtually every essential nutrient, with the exclusion of vitamin D. Some people even claim that wheatgrass provides a vegetarian source of vitamin Bi 2. But this is debatable, as many claim that it only contains inactive B12 analogues. For more information, see my chapter on B12.
Wheatgrass juice can actually be used as an all- natural multi-vitamin-mineral supplement. It is much safer than synthetic vitamins that may contain potentially dangerous ingredients such as DCP dicalciumphosphate Some researchers claim that this ingredient can contribute to soft-tissue calcifications. This is still open to debate.
You also get a more uniform intake of nutrients. That is. the nutrients are ingested throughout the day. instead of once a day like most multi-vitamin supplements. For those of you interested in growing wheatgrass at home, I have included some important tips, which you will find in the appendix section of this book. You will want to read this information if you plan on growing wheatgrass.
If magnesium is the anti-calcification mineral, then vitamin K should be called the anti-calcification vitamin. It is your second line of defense against calcifications. Numerous studies have shown that vitamin K plays a very important role in preventing soft- tissue calcifications,5,6,7 It works by regulating the metabolism of calcium. That is, it keeps calcium out of the blood and keeps it in the bones where it belongs. It does this by activating a protein called Osteocalcin. Osteocalcin is like the studs inside the walls of a house: it is a structural framework that helps hold calcium in place in the bones. But osteocalcin cannot do the job until vitamin K converts it into its active, bone-building form. Bone health is directly related to the activation of osteocalcin. If there is not enough vitamin K available to activate this protein, large amounts of inactive osteocalcin will circulate in the bloodstream If supplemental vitamin K is given to people with excess inactive osteocalcin. the circulating levels will drop, as more of it is made available for incorporation in the bones. In essence, vitamin K can help to keep calcium in the bones where it belongs. This makes it a very important vitamin for preventing osteoporosis. As mentioned throughout this book, most of the techniques used to prevent calcification, can also prevent osteoporosis. That is because most of the calcium contained in calcifications is derived from our bones. Thus, if we can keep the calcium there, it will not end up in our soft tissues. For this reason, vitamin K is currently being marketed as a treatment for osteoporosis. In Japan, vitamin K has been an approved treatment for osteoporosis since 1995. But in the United States most doctors have never heard of its use. Again, there are no big pharmaceutical companies promoting it There is currently some debate regarding how much vitamin K our body’s need. And some people may have a higher requirement for this nutrient. In studies, people have used as much as 45 milligrams a clay with no ill effects. The Japanese eat a food called nat’to, which has been shown to contain a very high level of vitamin K-2.8 The Japanese are well known for their longevity. Dietary sources of vitamin K are highest in leafy green vegetables such as lettuce, kale, broccoli and collard greens. Vitamin K is also produced by bacteria in the intestines: therefore, a deficiency of intestinal flora can cause a deficiency of vitamin K For more information on how to keep a healthy level of beneficial bacteria, see the appendix section on probiotics.
If you don’t eat leafy green vegetables regularly, then I would recommend taking supplements. Small dose supplements are available at a reasonable price. There are currently many forms of vitamin K available in supplemental form at health food stores. Most of these supplements contain only a very small quantity (usually 100 micrograms) of vitamin K-i. There is currently much debate regarding the optimum intake of vitamin K. The current RDI (recommended daily intake) is 65 micrograms daily. But this intake is not enough to prevent calcifications. Studies have safely used as much as 45 milligrams daily of vitamin K. That is milligrams, not micrograms. It is important to make that distinction, as vitamin K is usually sold in microgram