Calcium Paradox

Also see:
Hypertension and Calcium Deficiency
Phosphate, activation, and aging.
Blood Pressure Management with Calcium & Dairy
Carbohydrates and Bone Health
Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio, PTH, and Bone Health
Low CO2 in Hypothyroidism
Fatty Acid Synthase (FAS), Vitamin D, and Cancer
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and bone health
Source of Dietary Calcium: Chicken Egg Shell Powder

Thumbs Up: Fructose
Intestinal Serotonin and Bone Loss
Bone Health and Vitamin K
Estrogen Dominance and Magnesium Deficiency
Benefits of Aspirin

“All cell death is characterized by an increase of intracellular calcium….” “Increase of cytoplasmic free calcium may therefore be called ‘the final common path’ of cell disease and cell death. Aging as a background of diseases is also characterized by an increase of intracellular calcium. Diseases typically associated with aging include hypertension, arteriosclerosis, diabetes mellitus and dementia.” -Fujita, 1991

Quotes by Ray Peat, PhD:
“With only a small change in the theory of the nature of a living organism, recognizing the importance of the interactions of metabolites and structural substances, controlled by energetic metabolism, real progress could be made in understanding disease and health. The most important calcium paradox is that medical journals (e.g., International J. of Cardiology, Dec., 2002) are still promoting the idea that eating too much calcium causes hardening of the arteries and other diseases of calcification.”

“A diet that provides enough calcium to limit activity of the parathyroid glands, and that is low in phosphate and polyunsaturated fats, with sugar rather than starch as the main carbohydrate, possibly supplemented by niacinamide and aspirin, should help to avoid some of the degenerative processes associated with high phosphate: fatigue, heart failure, movement discoordination, hypogonadism, infertility, vascular calcification, emphysema, cancer, osteoporosis, and atrophy of skin, skeletal muscle, intestine, thymus, and spleen. The foods naturally highest in phosphate, relative to calcium, are cereals, legumes, meats, and fish. Many prepared foods contain added phosphate. Foods with a higher, safer ratio of calcium to phosphate are leaves, such as kale, turnip greens, and beet greens, and many fruits, milk, and cheese. Coffee, besides being a good source of magnesium, is probably helpful for lowering phosphate, by its antagonism to adenosine.”

“There are many energy-related vicious circles associated with aging, but the central one seems to be the fat-thyroid-estrogen-free-radical-calcium sequence, in which the ability to produce stabilizing substances including carbon dioxide and progesterone is progressively lost, increasing susceptibility to the unstable unsaturated fats.”

“Estrogen can cause a positive calcium balance, the retention of more calcium than is excreted, and the estrogen promoters argued that this showed it was being stored in the bones, but the endocrine physiologists showed that estrogen causes the retention of calcium by soft tissues. There are many reasons for not wanting calcium to accumulate in the soft tissues; this occurs normally in aging and stress.”

“Calcium, which is released into the cytoplasm by the excitotoxins, triggers the release of fatty acids, the activation of nerve and muscle, and the release of a variety of transmitter substances, in a cascade of excitatory processes, but at the same time, it tends to impair mitochondrial metabolism, and progressively tends to accumulate in mitochondria, leading to their calcification death, which is also promoted by the antirespiratory effects of the unsaturated fatty acids and the lipid peroxidation they promote.”

“It is extremely important to realize that calcium deposits in soft tissues become worse when the diet is low in calcium.”

“It is counterproductive to eat a calcium-deficient diet, since that leads to increase the intracellular calcium at the expense of calcium from the bones.”

“Calcium is the most studied of all regulatory molecules, so it isnt surprising that there is more than one calcium paradox. But there are ways of looking at the organism, focusing on energy metabolism, that dont involve the ad hoc theory of calcium pumps, and that make it easy to keep things in context.

Ionized atoms and molecules behave in orderly ways, in relation to their size and their electrical charge. Organic material, even when its dead, selectively binds certain metal ions, and excludes others. The living organism produces a stream of metabolic products, such as carbon dioxide or lactic acid, which interact specifically with each other and with the metal ions, modifying their concentrations inside cells and in the body fluids. This movement of ions can be called active transport, without invoking the mysterious machinery of membrane pumps. Chemical changes produced inside cells, for example by respiration, create different electrical charges in different compartments (inside and outside of capillaries, for example) which affect the movements of water and ions, by simple physical processes, not by molecular pumps.

The result of these passive and active processes is that each kind of ion has a characteristic concentration in each compartment, according to the metabolic energy state of the organism.

Magnesium and potassium are mainly intracellular ions, sodium and calcium are mainly extracellular ions. When cells are excited, stressed, or de-energized, they lose magnesium and potassium, and take up sodium and calcium. The mitochondria can bind a certain amount of calcium during stress, but accumulating calcium can reach a point at which it inactivates the mitochondria, forcing cells to increase their inefficient glycolytic energy production, producing an excess of lactic acid. Abnormal calcification begins in the mitochondria.

When cells are stressed or dying, they take up calcium, which tends to excite the cells at the same time that it inhibits their energy production, intensifying their stress. A cramp or a seizure is an example of uncontrolled cellular excitation. Prolonged excitation and stress contribute to tissue inflammation and fibrosis.

Gross calcification generally follows the fibrosis that is produced by inflammation.

Arteries, kidneys, and other organs calcify during aging. At the age of 90, the amount of calcium in the elastic layer of an artery is about 35 times greater than at the age of 20. Nearly every type of tissue, including the brain, is susceptible to the inflammatory process that leads through fibrosis to calcification. The exception is the skeleton, which loses its calcium as the soft tissues absorb calcium.

These observations lead to some simplifying ideas about the nature of aging and disease.

Some people who know about the involvement of calcium in aging, stress, and degeneration suggest eating a low calcium diet, but since we all have skeletons, dietary calcium restriction cant protect our cells, and in fact, it usually intensifies the process of calcification of the soft tissues. Statistics from several countries have clearly shown that the mortality rate (especially from arteriosclerotic heart disease, but also from some other diseases, including cancer) is lower than average in regions that have hard water, which often contains a very large amount of either calcium or magnesium.

Many studies have shown that dietary calcium (or vitamin D, which increases calcium absorption) can have very important antiinflammatory effects.”


Dietary calcium deficiency results in calcium being placed where it does not belong – in the soft tissues and inside cells. This happens at the expense of our bones, increasing inflammation, interfering with energy production, and causing dysfunctions like hypertension, arteriosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and degenerative joint disease. Inappropriate calcification occurs ironically due to a lack of calcium. This phenomenon is known as the calcium paradox.

Parathyroid hormone (PTH), produced by the parathyroid gland, is a regulator of blood calcium. If dietary calcium isn’t optimal, blood calcium will be deficient, and PTH will rise. PTH increases absorption of calcium and leaches calcium from bones to maintain serum calcium causing bone loss. As bones lose calcium, the soft tissue calcify. Cells also inappropriately take up too much calcium, stressing the cell, and leading to inefficient energy production and lactic acid creating inflammation and fibrotic conditions. Chronically high PTH contributes to the calcification of soft tissues, stress, inflammation, and depressed cellular respiration. Calcium deficiency has a clear link to high blood pressure due to high PTH. Sodium excess often wrongly gets blamed on hypertension.

Small, frequent meals lower PTH as do dietary magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D. Meats, nuts, seeds, grains, and beans have a high phosphorus to calcium ratio which isn’t ideal for bone health. Dairy products serve as a digestible sources of calcium and have a high calcium to phosphorus helping to keep PTH low. Niacinamide and vitamin A can help regulate the phosphorus and calcium balance.

Egg shell powder is good source of dietary calcium but should be used sparingly because of the potential of intestinal irritation. Always consume egg shell powder with a meal, preferably containing plenty of saturated fat. Coffee, ripe fruits, a quality orange juice, bone broth, and epsom salt baths are recommended magnesium sources.

Thyroid function, progesterone, sodium, carbon dioxide therapies, and vitamin K also play a vital role in calcium metabolism and bone health. Cortisol, prolactin, estrogen, and serotonin have anti-bone characteristics and these factors should be minimized or offset by the substances that oppose them (like thyroid, progesterone, gelatin, DHEA, and pregnenolone).

Protect the health of your bones, kidneys, and arteries by keeping PTH low with daily digestible dietary calcium and other cofactors.

FPS coaches at 12 to 16 week nutrition course based solely on the methodology of Ray Peat, PhD. Please click here for more information.

J Bone Miner Metab (2000) 18:234–236. Calcium paradox: consequences of calcium deficiency manifested by a wide variety of diseases.
Takuo Fujita
Calcium deficiency is a global problem, especially in the aging population. Among various nutrients, calcium is one of the few that is still deficient in industrialized countries such as Japan and many Western countries. Calcium deficiency is readily connected with osteoporosis, which is a decrease of bone calcium content. Less well known is the calcium outflow from bone that occurs to prevent decrease of blood calcium in calcium deficiency caused by the parathyroid hormone, with consequent calcium overflow into soft tissues and the intracellular compartment. Such intracellular paradoxical Ca overload as a consequence of nutritional calcium deficiency may give rise to a number of diseases common in old age: hypertension, arteriosclerosis, diabetes mellitus, neurodegenerative diseases, malignancy, and degenerative joint disease.

Contrib Nephrol. 1991;90:206-11.
Calcium, parathyroids and aging.
Fujita T.
Calcium is unique in its distribution in living organisms with an extremely high hard and soft tissue and extra- intracellular concentration gradient. Calcium deficiency through stimulating parathyroid hormone secretion tends to blunt such a difference by paradoxically increasing the calcium concentration in the soft tissue and intracellular compartment. Since aging is associated with the progressive aggravation of calcium deficiency, such blunting also progresses with aging. The dysfunction, damage and death of cells occurring in all diseases is always associated with a blunting of the extra- and intracellular calcium components. Calcium supplement especially with highly biologically available active absorbable calcium, was associated with the suppression of parathyroid hormone secretion and the normalization of a such blunting of intercompartmental distribution of calcium examples in hypertension and diabetes mellitus with evident improvement of clinical manifestations and laboratory tests.

Adv Second Messenger Phosphoprotein Res. 1990;24:542-7.
Aging and calcium metabolism.
Fujita T.
It is imperative to understand calcium metabolism under a unified concept, despite the vast concentration difference among the three major calcium compartments in human body. Total body calcium homeostasis supported by adequate calcium intake and normal skeletal metabolism is quite important to maintain adequate extra- and intracellular calcium concentration gradient and consequent signal transduction system mediated by calcium entry into the cell. Aging and diseases are associated with blunting of the calcium concentration gradient, due to calcium deficiency and consequent secondary hyperparathyroidism.

J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 1985 Dec;31 Suppl:S15-9.
Aging and calcium as an environmental factor.
Fujita T.
Calcium deficiency is a constant menace to land-abiding animals, including mammals. Humans enjoying exceptional longevity on earth are especially susceptible to calcium deficiency in old age. Low calcium and vitamin D intake, short solar exposure, decreased intestinal absorption, and falling renal function with insufficient 1,25(OH)2 vitamin D biosynthesis all contribute to calcium deficiency, secondary hyperparathyroidism, bone loss and possibly calcium shift from the bone to soft tissue, and from the extracellular to the intracellular compartment, blunting the sharp concentration gap between these compartments. The consequences of calcium deficiency might thus include not only osteoporosis, but also arteriosclerosis and hypertension due to the increase of calcium in the vascular wall, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and senile dementia due to calcium deposition in the central nervous system, and a decrease in cellular function, because of blunting of the difference in extracellular-intracellular calcium, leading to diabetes mellitus, immune deficiency and others (Fig. 6).

Clin Calcium. 2008 Jul;18(7):918-22. doi: CliCa0807918922.
[Calcium metabolism and anti-aging of bone].
[Article in Japanese]
Hosoi T.
Age-dependent change in calcium metabolism is affected by nutritional factors like calcium and vitamin D as well as by endocrine factors including parathyroid hormone. Because calcium deficiency could deteriorate bone metabolisms and cardiovascular systems, adequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D are important for anti-aging.

Milk in context: allergies, ecology, and some myths by Ray Peat, PhD

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  1. Travis says

    Good info here. Thanks for writing this.