Calcium in the correct places in our body is a good thing but what happens when calcium ends up in the wrong places? How does this happen and what can we do about it?
Calcification happens when calcium ends up where its not supposed to be. Calcium can deposit in our blood-vessels; in organs such as the brain, heart, kidney, prostate, bladder, gall bladder; in soft-tissue such as breast, muscles, fat; and in connective tissue such as tendons and joints.
Calcium in these places is a very bad thing.
Soft tissue and organs don’t tend to function well when something hard like calcium is inserted into it. Organ function is disrupted and muscles become weak and painful, joints become stiff and movement becomes restricted.
Calcium in the wrong places can significantly shorten your life and can cause you to end your life in misery. You don’t want calcium where it does not belong.
Factors affecting Calcification
Parathyroid glands. The parathyroid glands are small organs in the neck that make parathyroid hormone PTH. The parathyroids use PTH to regulate the amount of calcium in the blood. An increase of PTH will cause bones to give up calcium to increase the amount in circulation. PTH also stimulates the body to grow new bone and these two competing processes keep very tight control on the calcium level in the blood. Very tight control of calcium in the blood is essential for normal function.
Vitamin K and the Liver. The concentrations of calcium and phosphorus in bodily fluids is sufficiently high that calcium-phosphate salt will precipitate out of solution unless appropriately inhibited. The liver produces proteins derived from vitamin K which are important to prevent calcium coming out of solution into soft tissues. Poor liver function could thus lead to increased calcification.
Boron. The highest concentration of boron in the body is within the parathyroids and within bones and dental enamel. Boron is an essential element involved in the regulation of calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Increased boron levels lead to denser and harder bones. Low boron levels lead to porous and weak bones through over-stimulation of the parathyroid glands.
Magnesium, Vitamin-D. As well as being involved in hundreds of chemical processes in the body, magnesium, in conjunction with vitamin D is essential to absorb calcium into bones. If you do not have sufficient of either of these key ingredients, then bone growth is impeded. Trials of low magnesium diets have shown that weak, brittle bones are the result.
Absorption / Re-absorption. The cycle of taking calcium from the bones and building new bone is what keeps calcium levels at an even level in the blood. What happens when either of those two synergistic processes is disrupted?
- Too much PTH from the parathyroid will raise calcium levels.
- Too little bone growth through calcium re-absorption will raise calcium levels.
While the body can excrete calcium through the intestines and the kidneys, a disruption of the absorption / re-absorption cycle can lead to increased concentration of calcium in the blood which would stimulate the precipitation of calcium-phosphate salt in soft tissues.
Diabetes. It is well established that people with poor blood sugar control and high-insulin levels (diabetics and pre-diabetics) are significantly more likely to experience calcification, particularly in blood vessels. This may be caused by decreased liver function and lower levels of hormones that prevent calcium coming out of solution.
Chronic alcohol consumption. Chronic alcohol consumption leads to significantly higher levels of calcification. Again, this may be caused by decreased liver function and lower levels of hormones that prevent calcium coming out of solution.
By analysing the factors that affect calcification, we can see that the following tactics will help prevent calcification:
- Protect your liver by keeping your blood sugar and insulin levels under control – a low carbohydrate diet is an effective strategy.
- Protect your liver by limiting alcohol intake
- Ensure that you have sufficient magnesium and boron in your diet
- Ensure that you are getting enough sunlight to produce adequate quantities of vitamin D.