Category Archives: calcium

Elevated parathyroid hormone (PTH) and 1-25-D, calcium deficiency and calciphylaxis

I’m feeling so much better after only two days of calcium supplements that I feel like throwing a party. Fatigue is tiring. Replenishing supplies of a trace nutrient deficiency can help resolve symptoms so quickly that it feels like a miracle. I’ve experienced rapid resolution of symptoms in the past when I had a problem with low B1 intake [2] that was due to a low intake of everything – I had an anorexic appetite at the time which I later found may have been due to an underlying zinc deficiency.

The anorexic appetite symptom resolved when I added zinc and B6 supplements after reading about pyroluria. Pyroluria is not yet treated or accepted by most main stream health practitioners but it is believed to be due to a genetic defect affecting an enzyme that helps break down old hemoglobin for reuse and recycling. Molecules of B6 and zinc are involved in the process and in normal health would be recycled but if the person has the genetic modification than the B6 and zinc is released in urine rather than being retained for reuse. [1]

Calciphylaxis is a symptom that is not well understood but is associated with severe hyperparathyroidism. It is a rare symptom in the general population but is seen more frequently in people with end stage renal disease. When the kidneys are no longer able to make normal amounts of 1, 25 dihydroxy D the plasma calcium levels can drop. And to try to maintain normal calcium levels the body responds by having the parathyroid glands increase production of parathyroid hormone which in normal health would tell the kidneys to activate more 1, 25 dihydroxy D which would then tell the intestines to absorb more calcium and would tell the bones to release more calcium from storage. [3] But in end stage renal disease there aren’t functional kidneys and the elevated levels of parathyroid hormone can cause other symptoms like irregular or rapid heart rate or in severe cases calciphylaxis may occur.

Calciphylaxis “is a poorly understood and highly morbid syndrome of vascular calcification and skin necrosis.” [4] The word calciphylaxis may refer to the syndrome or to the patches of necrotic (decaying) tissue which may occur internally on the surface of bones or externally in patches on the surface of the skin. The decaying areas occur more commonly on the lower legs. The areas can first appear as reddish or purplish bruised areas that may feel like they have small hardened nodules under the skin. The skin surface may be itchy and eventually may break down to be an open wound that doesn’t heal easily. There is a risk of skin infections developing in the open wound which can become severe enough to cause sepsis and death as the patches of decaying skin or bone areas do not heal well.

Calciphylaxis is more of a risk with end stage renal disease but it has also been found in people who had normal vitamin D levels and normal kidney health. And “high dose vitamin D administration is capable of inducing STC (soft tissue calcification) and calciphylaxis in murine models. [56, 57] In an attempt to reestablish normal calcium-phosphate homeostasis, ESRD patients receive vitamin D analogs that could theoretically increase their risk of calciphylaxis if hyperphosphatemia and hypercalcemia ensued. [58, 59]” [3]

“Experimental sensitizing events and agents included nephrectomy and exposure to parathyroid hormone (PTH) and vitamin D. Substances used as challengers included egg albumin and metallic salts. Calciphylaxis was the end result.4  – from a 1962 study, abstract is free. [4.5]

Eczema is something I’ve had to cope with since infancy along with severe congestion problems. The images of calciphylaxis do not look quite like the itchy patches that I’ve been dealing with for a few months but they resemble the images of calciphylaxis more than they look like the patches of eczema that I’ve had off and on since infancy.

The fun thing about autoimmune disease is all the nifty weird symptoms that you get to experience – and which are so rare that many physicians don’t want to see you or the symptoms in their office –  because those unusual symptoms must be covered by some other specialist’s field. This quote said it well:  Calciphylaxis “is a poorly understood and highly morbid syndrome”. [4]  Maybe I wouldn’t want that syndrome to be my professional responsibility either, and maybe it is just too bad for me that it might be my personal responsibility whether I like it or not. However maybe I’m lucky that my professional and personal experiences have left me more informed about odd symptoms than other health professionals, and therefore I may possibly be better equipped to cope with the odd symptoms.

Thankfully just two days of calcium supplements (while continuing to avoid excess vitamin D and sunshine) have left me feeling less itchy and my open wound areas are beginning to form scabs instead of remaining open wounds with seeping plasma.

In normal physiology the activated hormone form, 1, 25 dihydroxy D, is typically found in elevated amounts only in areas of rapid growth or membrane breakdown, such as in scab formation by white blood cells, [6], and within the placenta during pregnancy. [5] – Maybe elevated 1, 25 dihydroxy D can also be an underlying problem causing calciphylaxis rather than it being due only to deficiency of the inactive vitamin 25-D or the active hormone 1, 25-D.

Yes, my vitamin 25-D level was low at 10.9 ng/mL and anything below 20-30 is considered deficient and I was recommended by my endocrinologist to take vitamin D and calcium. However my hormone 1, 25-D level was 55 pg/mL which is considered within the normal range by mainstream medicine (range: 18-72 pg/mL). Specialists in vitamin D/hormone D metabolism would consider levels of 1, 25-D above 42 pg/mL to be elevated enough to be an osteoporosis risk because above that level the bone cells start releasing calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium into the blood supply instead of absorbing the minerals from circulating plasma and storing them for increased bone strength or for later use. [7]

Calcium and magnesium are so important as electrically active ions that the body has a variety of ways to maintain the blood levels of the two minerals within a narrow range. Blood tests for calcium and magnesium levels may be normal even though there is inadequate dietary intake because the bones can act like a savings account at the bank. In normal health if the blood plasma dips a little low for calcium or magnesium, more minerals are released from the bone, and if levels are getting too elevated than more would be excreted by the kidneys, less would be absorbed by the intestines, and more would be absorbed into the bones for long term storage.

However if 1, 25-D levels are elevated above 42 pg/mL than even if calcium levels were elevated in the blood the abnormally elevated 1, 25-D level would still be telling the bones to release more calcium and for the intestines to absorb more calcium which would lead to way too much calcium for the kidneys to be able to excrete during good health let alone during renal disease (elevated blood calcium would normally signal the body to make more of the enzyme that de-activates 1, 25-D but some microbial pathogens seem to bypass our immune system by disabling our body’s ability to make that enzyme). Adequate magnesium is necessary for the kidneys to be able to excrete calcium and elevated 1, 25-D causes the intestines to preferentially absorb calcium rather than magnesium.

And it turns out that eczema is an autoimmune disease so I may have been trying to figure out how to feel healthier since I was a baby. [8]

My mother gave up trying to spoon feed me. She said I would spit food into my hand, look at it, then put it back into my mouth before swallowing. She put cookie sheets around my highchair to block the mess (and possibly the view) and left me to feed myself from a fairly early age. I still don’t like to be fed by others, whether it’s just a taste of something on a spoon, or whether it is a dietary supplement that might cause my underlying autoimmune condition to worsen.

I’m feeling less itchy and the open wound areas are beginning to heal. The tachycardia problem is better, (having a rapid heart rate with little exercise), and an internal jittery feeling is less. The problem with trying to medicate a nutrient deficiency with psychiatric drugs is that the psychiatric drug can’t take the place of a nutrient in metabolic pathways. For years now physicians, family members and friends have been encouraging me to just take the psychiatric medication as prescribed and stop complaining about psychosomatic symptoms and imaginary problems. But the psychiatric medications that were offered all had bad side effects and while some helped slow down whirling thoughts they didn’t make the thoughts less sad or negative and they didn’t take away the internal feeling of tension.

I felt like a coiled spring internally, very jittery all the time and unable to concentrate as well as normal. I knew something was wrong and I knew feeling like a coiled spring all the time wasn’t an imaginary delusion and the feeling didn’t go away with the three different anti-psychotic medications that physicians or psychiatrists had me try.

We can’t afford ineffective health care as individuals or as a global community. Harsh medications that cause side effects in humans are probably also causing side effects in the health of the environment once the chemicals become waste products. Expensive pharmaceuticals that cause side effects in patients without addressing the person’s underlying condition are primarily helping the pharmaceutical company and may be causing the person’s condition to worsen over the long term.

Low protein intake may be involved as hypoalbuminemia is a risk factor for calciphylaxis. [9 -includes images of calciphylaxis wounds.] I don’t know for sure that my weird skin patches are early stage calciphylaxis wounds but I hadn’t been eating much protein in the weeks before my bruise like symptoms became more like open painful sores and I have probably had a low calcium intake ever since I started limiting my use of dairy products. I did take calcium supplements in the past but my chronic muscle cramps became a problem and the calcium seemed to make it worse. More recently not eating much for a couple weeks would have further reduced my intake of calcium from the sources such as sesame seeds and tree nuts that I normally do eat. Just two days of calcium supplements have helped me feel calm internally instead of jittery (I’m using about 500 mg spread out through the day in low doses). I’m also eating a more adequate amount of protein and other foods and the odd skin patches have less of a burning itchy painful feeling and the areas are starting to heal rather than remain open seeping wounds.

Twenty three and a half to fifty million Americans may have one or more types of autoimmune diseases. [10] So I don’t think that I am the only one who has been regularly told that her symptoms must all be imaginary and to go see a talk therapist or to go get stronger and stronger psychiatric medications. We can’t afford ineffective health care because it doesn’t help the patient and the medications may be bad for the environment once they become waste products. Calcium is a natural mineral that is not harmful to the environment and it is inexpensive.

6/15/15 lab values:

  • Parathyroid hormone level – PTH Intact – 154.1 pg/mL — normal range: [15.0-75.0]
  • Calcium – 8.8 mg/dL — normal range: [8.4-10.2]
  • Phosphorus was not ordered but would probably be good to check.
  • Vitamin D, 25 – 10.9 ng/mL — normal is considered: [30.0-100.0]
  • Vitamin D 1, 25 – 55 pg/mL — normal is considered: [18-72]

I did schedule an appointment with a physician but it will be a few weeks and the tachycardia was not pleasant, the internal coiled spring feeling made it hard to concentrate and hard to not over react to outside events, and the open seeping sores were painful.

I don’t see why I should not try to take care of myself rather than having to follow the orders/recommendations of physicians or psychiatrists when they are working from the premise that “we don’t know what is causing your symptoms or how to cure them but we would really like you to take these harsh medications anyway because we guess that they might reduce some of your symptoms – and please just ignore the negative side effects that the medication is actually adding to your problems because we guess that the medication might help reduce some of the symptoms that you originally came to see us about.” That is an example of circular logic based on guesses and I’m not buying it anymore now than I did when I was sitting in a highchair covered with eczema, milk based formula, and baby food.

Medications can be life saving and certainly are a modern miracle but nutrients will always be our body’s building blocks. Providing medicines to reduce symptoms of nutrient deficiency will only prolong the time the body is left without adequate nutrients and some deficiencies can cause long term damage that is not reversible once the nutrient is added back to the diet. A long term deficiency of Vitamin B12 can cause irreversible nerve damage, [11], and it turns out that calcium or vitamin D deficiency can cause osteoporosis if the deficiency is chronic enough to lead to secondary hyperparathyroidism.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Bibliography:

  1. Pyroluria: anxiety and deficiency of B6 and zinc
  2. Thiamin: people with anorexia or alcoholism are more at risk for vitamin B1 deficiency
  3. Julia R Nunley, MD, “Calciphylaxis,” Medscape, July 21, 2014, [4-Overview,  4.5-Pathophysiology]
  4. Liu NQ et al., “Vitamin D and the regulation of placental inflammation.” J Immunol. 2011 May 15;186(10):5968-74. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1003332. Epub 2011 Apr 11, [5]
  5. Eleftheriadis T., et al., “Vitamin D receptor activators and response to injury in kidney disease.” JNephrol 2010: 23(05): 514-524 [6]
  6. Meg Mangin, Rebecca Sinha, and Kelly Fincher, “Elevated 1,25(OH)2D appears to be evidence of a disabled immune system’s attempt to activate the VDR to combat infection.” Inflamm Res. 2014; 63(10): 803–819., 2014 Jul 22. [7]
  7. by Charlotte LoBuono, “For the First Time, Study Proves Eczema Is an Autoimmune Disease.” Jan. 5, 2015, [8]
  8. Dermnet NZ, “Calciphylaxis,” [9]
  9. AARDA, “Autoimmune Statistics,” [10]
  10. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause long term nerve degeneration.” August 21, 2013, [11]

Additional references about risk factors for calciphylaxis in dialysis patients:                   These articles are not mentioned in the text above and the research studies are not about secondary hyperparathyroidism but they do suggest that adequate protein intake may help reduce risk for calciphylaxis and that having elevated phosphorus or alkaline phosphatase levels may increase the risk.

  • Zacharias JM, Calcium use increases risk of calciphylaxis: a case-control study. Perit Dial Int. 1999 May-Jun;19(3):248-52.  [link] *This small research study is about calciphylaxis occurring in patients on kidney dialysis – calcium supplements were found to increase risk of calciphylaxis, while iron intake may have been protective, vitamin D intake made no difference between groups, (n=8 women). The study group’s parathyroid hormone and albumin levels were not found to be significantly different then the lab values of the control group of dialysis patients who did not have calciphylaxis. The conclusion includes the suggestion that “use of calcium salts as a phosphate binder” during dialysis might have something to do with the increased rate of calciphylaxis that was being seen at dialysis centers at the time.
  • A Rauf Mazhar, et. al., Risk factors and mortality associated with calciphylaxis in end-stage renal disease.  Kidney International (2001) 60, 324–332; doi:10.1046/j.1523-1755.2001.00803.x [link] *This study (n=19) found an increased risk for calciphylaxis in dialysis patients who were female, and when the patient had elevated phosphorus and/or alkaline phosphatase levels and/or low serum albumin levels. “Calciphylaxis independently increased the risk of death by eightfold.”
  • Doweiko JP, Nompleggi DJ. The role of albumin in human physiology and pathophysiology, Part III: Albumin and disease states. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 1991 Jul-Aug;15(4):476-83. [link] *Albumin is the main protein found in blood plasma and having low albumin levels is also associated with poor wound healing and an increased risk of death.
  • Albumin levels can be low even when there is adequate protein intake in the presence of edema. Fluid imbalance can make the albumin values seem lower due to the change in concentration of the blood serum rather than due to changes in diet. However edema and low protein intake may both be problems. A low protein intake can increase the risk for edema.
  • Pickwell K, Predictors of lower-extremity amputation in patients with an infected diabetic foot ulcer. Diabetes Care. 2015 May;38(5):852-7. doi: 10.2337/dc14-1598. Epub 2015 Feb 9. [link] *Severe edema is also a sign of ill health. the presence of edema increased the risk of poor wound healing and the need for amputation for patients with a diabetic foot ulcer.

 

Secondary Hyperparathyroidism, calcium deficiency and irritability

Not eating regularly is bad for mental health. Avoiding food groups is also not good for health in general because trace nutrient deficiencies can impact many areas of the body.

It turns out that some of my mystery symptoms may be due to secondary hyperparathyroidism – and irritability is one of the symptoms. Other symptoms can include fatigue, heart arrhythmia (heart palpitations), Atrial Fibrillation (rapid heart rate), hair loss, and itching. The list seemed eerily familiar.

Secondary hyperparathyroidism can be due to deficiency of calcium and/or vitamin D. To skip to the point – I started taking calcium supplements yesterday and today and I am already feeling somewhat better. Potentially my hair may start growing back within six months of improved calcium intake.  And maybe my early stage bone loss, osteopenia, will improve too.

And I made an appointment with my family physician too, and will eventually call the endocrinology office but it is a little unsettling to be told you have an elevated lab value several months after the blood work was done. I had been informed about some of the labs and didn’t think to ask if there were any other results. My hyperparathyroid hormone level was two to ten times higher than the normal range — June 15 — grouchy, yes, but soon I hope to start feeling better and less grouchy. My heart symptoms are more rapid than irregular, and I have to stop or slow down to get the heart rate to slow down, and it was less of a problem today than yesterday. So sometimes old news is still good news – or at least useful news.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

 

Transport across the glycocalyx; a link

More information and illustrations about the structure and function of the glycocalyx and tight junctions are available online from an academic textbook called, Molecular Cell Biology, 4th Ed.:

Interestingly, cells grown in a solution with very low concentrations of calcium ions formed a monolayer with a lack of tight junctions between the cells but when calcium ions were added to the solution, tight junctions formed between the cells within an hour.

–This could suggest that calcium ions are necessary for cell monolayers to be able to form the tight junctions — or it might suggest that tight junctions are formed between cells in the presence of calcium in order to prevent the calcium ions from passing between the cells. Or in other words: Does the presence of calcium ions allow the tight junctions to form? Or do the tight junctions form because there are calcium ions present that need to be prevented from passing through the cell monolayer?

More research has been done and it suggests that the intracellular calcium ion level is also important for maintaining strong tight junctions. Both intra- and extrcellular levels of calcium are kept under careful control during normal health. Tight junctions also will become disfunctional if intracellular calcium levels become elevated.

Magnesium ions inside of the cell are also important for controlling intracellular levels of calcium. Nutrients usually have to work together as a team.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Low vitamin D levels associated with increased LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio and triglyceride levels

In a previous post I had mentioned that I had received a few responses from colleagues who had read my vitamin D article. When I checked an older account, I found that I had saved a copy of two of the emails. I posted a copy with names and contact information removed as evidence of my attempt to seek help. I have made the post private and added a link to it within the post where I had mentioned the topic. The emails had been intended as private correspondence and I hadn’t asked the writers for permission to post a copy. My send virtual apologies to them in advance.

One of the emails included this link with the suggestion that it contradicted my article. But it actually supports the premise that healthy levels of vitamin D are healthy and abnormal levels may be abnormal rather than deficient in a normal sense of the term nutrient deficiency. Vitamin D is unique in that it can be formed by the body from cholesterol. Other vitamins and minerals that are considered essential can not be produced by the body. A deficiency of one of them would suggest a true lack of the nutrient but a low level of vitamin D can occur with an elevated level of the active hormone form of the nutrient.

Continued below the link:

48510

Topic:

High Serum 25(OH)D Concentrations Linked to Favorable Lipid Profile

***This is just an abstract, on rereading it I see that it doesn’t include that much information about the results and I misread the data about types of cholesterol. All the types of cholesterol levels were higher in the participants with normal or higher levels of vitamin D not just the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. However the total ratio of good/HDL to bad/LDL cholesterol was better and the triglyceride level was lower in the participants with normal levels of vitamin D than participants with low levels of vitamin D.

I had written this earlier today:

*The study included in this email actually does not conflict with my research findings – Many studies have shown that health is associated with having normal vitamin D levels. Obesity and chronic illness is associated with having depressed vitamin D levels. The controversy arose when some research physicians decided that therefore simply providing megadoses of vitamin D should/would correct the depressed vitamin D levels and correct the individual’s underlying chronic illness problem — but correcting the depressed levels hasn’t proven to be that simple.

Studies on the effectiveness of providing vitamin D supplements have not shown that health improves even when the person’s vitamin D level was able to be brought back up to the normal range by providing megadoses of the supplement or megadose injections of the supplement. Much of the research that showed depressed levels of vitamin D did not also include laboratory assessments of the participant’s hormone D levels – which likely were actually elevated in the individuals who had obesity or chronic illness problems.

Megadoses of the supplement that are given to individuals whose bodies have too much of the activating enzyme and not enough of the deactivating enzyme will simply by converted into hormone D and lab tests for vitamin D will continue to be low. This lack of change in the vitamin D lab values even with the provision of larger and larger supplements was baffling the research physicians. They continue to seem to think that most or all of the supplemental vitamin D that is given to patients will remain in the vitamin D form within their bodies — the problem in chronically ill and obese people is that the supplements of vitamin D may be rapidly being converted into hormone D. And my concern based on my on experience with elevated hormone D levels is that it is very biologically active in many systems of the body and it can cause muscle cramps and mood changes and actually cause osteoporosis over time rather than help prevent it. Hormone D is not just for strong bones.

I then started adding this but realized the abstract really doesn’t provide enough information about the cholesterol levels in the participants with low levels of vitamin D to speculate about possible causes.

/Speculation/ Thinking more about this research link suggested to me that the higher ratio of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in the participants with lower vitamin D levels may actually be showing evidence of the soft tissue calcification that can occur with elevated levels of hormone D. Excess calcium is stored along the walls of arteries and veins within placques formed by cholesterol depostis. The cholesterol helps enclose the electrically active calcium ions which can cause damage if allowed to enter into the interior of cells. Magnesium is the electrically active ion that is found in greater quantity within the interior of cells. It is necessary to help block openings within cell membranes that can allow calcium or other chemicals into the interior of the cell in amounts that might be unsafe (for more information look up excitotoxins, aspartic acid, or glutamates).

From a previous post regarding having elevated hormone D levels: ” It causes increased loss of calcium from the bones and can lead to osteoporosis over time, and excess free calcium in soft tissue can cause muscle cramps and headaches in the short run and lead to calcification of soft tissue over time, such as atherosclerosis, a type of hardening of the arteries.” [post]

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Actually we do know quite a bit about ALS

The Life Extension Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on research into preventative health strategies. The company does sell supplements, books, and a few other products but it also helps fund research in preventative health care. The foundation publishes an academic type journal and an article from the journal is available on their website which provides a review of the current theories and research available regarding Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). [1]

The article ends with a quote or two about the limited effectiveness and negative side effects associated with the medication that is currently prescribed for ALS patients. The sad point is that at least then the doctor can feel like they provided a service by writing a prescription but if it doesn’t really help slow progress of the disease and adds negative side effects then is that prescribing doctor really “Doing no harm.”?

The article doesn’t provide vitamin or supplement recommendations or provide other preventative guidance. It is a review of current research which did provide enough information to suggest to me several strategies that might help me reduce my risk of developing ALS. I’m motivated because I fall into one of the ‘you may be at more risk for ALS if you also have this condition’ categories.

Studies suggest that ALS is more associated with some autoimmune and chronic infectious diseases and with some nutrient deficiencies or imbalances and with exposure to some environmental toxins.

A few points gleaned from the article that might help me reduce my risk of developing ALS:

  1. Avoid mercury, lead, aluminum, manganese and other heavy metal toxins.
  2. Be careful if working with herbicides and pesticides to reduce exposure.
  3. Have adequate intake of calcium and magnesium – in balance. Excess calcium and too little magnesium may increase degenerative calcification of the central nervous system.
  4. Avoid excess intake of free glutamates. There are many sources of free glutamates in the diet as they are used as flavoring agents. MSG is one better known example. *The article doesn’t recommend avoiding glutamates, it mentions that ALS is associated with glutamate toxicity. One study found plasma levels of glutamate to be significantly elevated in ALS patients compared to controls (Plaitakis et al, 1993). One theory suggests that there may be a glutamate transport problem that allows the elevated levels to accumulate. [1] *Having adequate zinc and magnesium levels helps the cells control intracellular glutamate levels. [3], magnesium also helps control transmembrane movement of the other electrolytes: calcium, sodium and potassium. [4]
    ALS is highly linked with glutamate. One proposed mechanism is a defective glutamate transport system that permits neurotoxic levels to build up (Onion 1998). A study showed significant elevations (by about 70%) of plasma levels of glutamate in ALS patients as compared to controls (Plaitakis et al. 1993). – See more at: http://www.lifeextensionvitamins.com/amlatscleral.html#sthash.ErWUopES.d
    ALS is highly linked with glutamate. One proposed mechanism is a defective glutamate transport system that permits neurotoxic levels to build up (Onion 1998). A study showed significant elevations (by about 70%) of plasma levels of glutamate in ALS patients as compared to controls (Plaitakis et al. 1993). – See more at: http://www.lifeextensionvitamins.com/amlatscleral.html#sthash.ErWUopES.dpuf
  5. Have adequate but not excessive intake of selenium as it helps the body remove mercury. Two Brazil nuts per day provide about 200 micrograms of selenium which is the recommended daily goal. Excess selenium can cause toxicity symptoms so be careful not to take supplemental one-a-day or other mixtures that contain selenium in addition to taking selenium as an individual supplement or in addition to eating Brazil nuts regularly. Toxicity wouldn’t occur in a few days but might develop if multiple sources were eaten over a longer time period.
  6. Growth factor deficiency may be involved in development of ALS. Touch is important for stimulating human growth factor. Therapy pets and massage may also help stimulate internal production of human growth factor. *The article doesn’t mention the therapeutic benefits of touch. It only mentions that reduced growth factors are an underlying problem associated with ALS and pharmaceutical sources have been found helpful for slowing progress of the disease in some (but not all) studies. However touch can also help stimulate innate production of growth factors without needing a pharmaceutical company. [2]
  7. Spinal compression may increase risks of a similar nerve degeneration problem that can resemble ALS so /speculative/ regular exercise such as swimming might help or regular use of an inversion board at a gentle 10 degree slope might help relieve spinal pressure. /Disclosure, I do use an inversion board and find it helpful for headache and back problems but they can be dangerous so please seek individual guidance regarding their use./
  8. Some infections with long term chronic phases are associated with ALS type symptoms including Lyme’s disease, poliomyelitis, HIV/AIDs, and tertiary syphilis.
  9. Some endocrine and autoimmune diseases such as the hyperthyroid condition Grave’s disease and  Diabetic Amyotrophy are associated with ALS risk. Maintaining lower thyroid levels and avoiding thyrotoxicosis may help reduce risk of developing ALS.
  10. Some other conditions associated with ALS like problems include the neurological diseases: Pick’s Disease and Kennedy’s Syndrome; and the genetic enzyme disorders: Superoxide Dismutase, Hexosaminidase A, and Alpha-Glucosidase.
  11. /Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see an health professional for individual health care purposes./
  1. Lyme disease and poliomyelitis
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Amyotrophic Lateral Scleros

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and CBD receptors

The cannabinoid receptor system is involved in the control of calcium movement across the cell membrane. Calcium has an electrically active ionic form which can initiate changes within the cell fluid. During normal health a similarly electrically active ionic form of magnesium is found in greater concentration within the cell fluid and greater concentrations of the calcium ion are found within the blood plasma. The energy available from the magnesium ions is used within the cell membrane protein channels. The protein transport channels act as gates that can be opened or closed to allow calcium or other types of chemicals to flow through the channel.

The US federal listing of the cannabis herb as a schedule one drug has limited research into the role of the cannabinoid receptor system to studies about the toxic or addictive properties of cannabinoids. A schedule one drug is considered as having no medicinal value so no research would be necessary. When the cannabis plant was classified as a schedule one substance less was known about the extensive role of cannabinoids in the health of humans and many other species. Suppressing research about the cannabinoid group of chemicals and the cannabinoid receptors may have left us in the dark about the cause and cure of many mystery diseases and conditions.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease that affects a small percentage of the population yet it has no known cause or cure — except —  cannabinoids may help:

However, there is increasing evidence that cannabinoids and manipulation of the endocannabinoid system may have therapeutic value in ALS, in addition to other neurodegenerative conditions. Cannabinoids exert anti-glutamatergic and anti-inflammatory actions through activation of the CB(1) and CB(2) receptors, respectively. Activation of CB(1) receptors may therefore inhibit glutamate release from presynaptic nerve terminals and reduce the postsynaptic calcium influx in response to glutamate receptor stimulation. [1]

We are what we eat.

“The cattle are as good as the pasture in which they graze.”
-Ethiopian proverb
We can build better bodies and better babies with normal healthy food. Tweaking ratios in our supplements and formulas would make it easier to get what we need but in the mean time moderate use of typical foods can feed us well. Babies would benefit from more human milk use whether from individual mothers or donated milk banks. It would help infant’s neuro-development and might help prevent some colic and sleepless nights. If infant formula is necessary than an occasional quarter teaspoon of Milk of Magnesia might prevent problems from the slightly high calcium/magnesium ratio (cow’s milk is quite a bit higher in calcium and protein than the modified formula product and is not suitable for use with young infants).
The levels of a  few nutrients in breast milk can be adversely affected by diet or health and magnesium is one of them. The average is around 30 mg/liter but the level can drop to the low 20’s and does in malnourished populations and teen moms and it can be elevated around 45 mg/liter in diabetic moms.
Young women, aka teen moms, are also more at risk for preeclampsia, as are mothers of twins. Both of these groups have increased nutrient needs – they are eating for baby plus more. These two sub-populations are linked with malnourished women in third world country studies by the unusually low magnesium levels in their breast milk. The high levels in the diabetic women suggests to me that the cell membranes are allowing too much out – that they have become leaky somehow.
We need more vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans for magnesium but they also give us protein and fiber. The healthy starches are necessary for a strong protective intestinal lining. White blood cells patrol and pick off allergens, infection and other information and send it up to lymph nodes. At the lymph nodes more specialized work takes place to identify the foreign proteins and replicate defensive antibodies if needed. Nature provided us this natural oral vaccination method but healthy foods are necessary to build blood cells and make the glycocalyx jelly lining around the intestinal folds.

The United Kingdom recently released the nutrition recommendation to eat less red meat. Americans were told to eat less red meat a while ago . . . and we did, however we started eating more chicken, and cheese intake also increased — from a USDA report on 1909 to 2000 US nutrient intake. [2 -Table 32] Between 1970 and 2000 red meat use dropped fifteen percent! But chicken use increased 80 percent and cheese 150 percent. Chicken in the form of nuggets and other breaded and fried forms has become a staple that had been a special occasion food . The hidden added oil of fried chickend and the saturated fats of the cheese made “eat less red meat” a nutrition recommendation that worked and failed. We are eating less red meat than we used to in America but we are eating more cheese and chicken .

I would like to encourage a positive spin of less red meat and more beans, nuts and seeds for a protein source that also provides healthy fiber and many other trace nutrients. Having a variety of types of foods daily or throughout the week will generally provide more trace nutrients. We need hundreds of types of chemical compounds, not just ten or twenty vitamins and minerals. A few trace nutrients are considered essential for our health because our bodies can not create them out of other simpler chemicals. However other trace chemicals may become more important to consume in the diet or take as supplements if a person has a problem with some of the conversion steps necessary to make important enzymes or proteins or other more complex molecules. Eating liver and onions once a month may provide a boost to our health because it provides fully formed enzymes that can be more easily reassembled by the body after they are broken down and absorbed during digestion.

Using a variety of protein sources throughout the week or mixed in the meal may provide more variety of some of the more unusual types of essential sugars. A rich beef stock made from marrow rich bones will yield glucosamine, one of the essential sugars or glyco-nutrients. Many people use it as a supplement for arthritis pain. It can have a positive effect after taking it for a few weeks. Glucosamine is found in the synovial fluid that cushions the area between the bones of the knee and other joints in the body. A supplement recommendation is 1500 mg/day. [Synovial and plasma glucosamine concentrations in osteoarthritic patients following oral crystalline glucosamine sulphate at therapeutic dose, S. Persiani, Ph.D, et. al., Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, Volume 15, Issue 7, July 2007, Pages 764–772]
Supplements may be from a shellfish source as it is frequently derived from crustacean shells so people with shellfish allergies should look for a vegetarian source.
Glucosamine is also found in the chitin of insects. The use of insects in the diet may have helped prevent kwashiokor in young children in tropical regions. The intestinal lining in some individuals, possibly those who had a recent infection, seems to malfunction in the ability to convert other sugars into glucosamine. The use of a rich broth from a bone stock might suit more people’s taste than insects. Although there are chefs presenting some appetizing dishes. . . . citations to follow when I am more awake.
Moderate use of dairy products like cheese, milk, yogurt and other calcium rich foods would benefit bone health without sacrificing magnsium absorption. Two to three dairy servings per day would provide adequate calcium. Supplements are not generally needed.
The food pyramid and http://www.mypyramid.gov is a nice start but I tend to recommend:
    • a bit less grains – swap some starchy root vegetables for the carbohydrate calories,
    • and a bit more vegetables -AICR – recommends 5-9 veg and fruit per day as anticancer medicine.
    • Juice is concentrated and limiting to 4-6 oz/day is healthy – especially for small bodies.
    • A bit less meat and dairy groups and use the calories for nuts, beans, and seeds.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

*2015, edit, I’m not sure why I included this chart in 2011 but I’m leaving it here for now.

 http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/                nutrient data base

NBD #
Food
Unit
kcal
protein
fat
Calcium
Magns.
Vit D IU
Vit A IU
01211
Whole milk no added A or D
1 cup
149
7.67 gr
7.98 gr
276 mg
24 mg
5 IU
395 IU
01107
Human milk, mature
1 cup
172
2.53 gr
10.77 gr
79 mg
7 mg
7 IU
522 IU
03850
Infant Formula, similac
100 gr x 2.43 = 1 cup
158
3.3 gr
8.62 gr
124 mg
10 mg
95 IU
479 IU

**Note that the example infant formula is fortified with vitamin D at 13.6 times the amount of human milk and 19 times the amount in cow’s milk. There are more nutrients but the blog is narrow.

1.      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703293204576106072340020728.html  Marcel Dicke, Arnold Van Huis are professors of entomology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.  (2-19-11, The Wall Street Journal, pC3)  The Six-Legged Meat of the Future, Insects are nutritious and easy to raise without harming the environment. They also have a nice nutty taste

2. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/publications/foodsupply/foodsupply1909-2000.pdf Gerrior, S., Bente, L., & Hiza, H. (2004). Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food
Supply, 1909-2000. (Home Economics Research Report No. 56). U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1525-139X.2010.00705.x/abstract
 Effect of Diabetes Mellitus on Protein–Energy Wasting and Protein Wasting in End-Stage Renal Disease, Nazanin Noori1, Joel D. Kopple1,2Article first  published online:13 APR 2010DOI: 10.1111/j.1525-139X.2010.00705.x

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19121473  Semin Nephrol. 2009 Jan;29(1):39-49. Causes and prevention of protein-energy wasting in chronic kidney failure. Dukkipati R, Kopple JD. Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Los Angeles Biomedical  Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA 90509, USA.
 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19121477 Semin Nephrol. 2009 Jan;29(1):75-84. Nutrition support for the chronically wasted or acutely catabolic chronic kidney disease patient.
Ikizler  TA.Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Vanderbilt University School of  Medicine,Nashville, TN 37232-2372, USA.

 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16129200Am J Kidney Dis. 2005 Sep;46(3):387-405. Multinutrient oral  supplements and tube feeding in maintenance dialysis: a systematic review and meta-  analysis. StrattonRJ, Bircher G, Fouque D, Stenvinkel P, de Mutsert R, Engfer M, Elia  M.Instituteof Human Nutrition, University of Southampton, UK.
 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2891019/?tool=pubmed New Insights into the Role of Anabolic Interventions in Dialysis Patients with Protein Energy Wasting Jie Dong and T. Alp Ikizler1 Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2009 November; 18(6): 469–475.doi: 10.1097/MNH.0b013e3283 31489d.
 “Economic Implications of Nutritional interventions It is also important to assess the impact of nutritional supplements not only in terms of changes in nutritional parameters, but to extrapolate these observations to potential improvements in hospitalization, mortality, and cost-effectiveness. In a recent study, Lacson et al showed that a hypothetical increase in serum albumin concentration in the order of 2 g/L in 50%  of the United States dialysis population would be associated with  projections of approximately 1400 lives saved, approximately 6000 hospitalizations  averted, and approximately $36 million in Medicare cost savings resulting  from a reduction of approximately 20,000 hospital days over one year[68]. This is a reasonable estimation since 2 g/L increase in serum albumin is the average improvement reported in most nutritional intervention studies.”

***The above paper is suggesting that giving them growth hormones  and other anabolic steroids along with protein will help them to stop catabolizing. They have had success with the strategy, but wouldn’t magnesium plus protein (ideally magnesium foods) be cheaper than hormones and protein.

Electrolytes are essential, magnesium helps protect brain cells

     Our bodies are like an ocean, not a fresh water lake. Our blood and cell fluid has a balance of salts and proteins that are essential for keeping things flowing and interacting as needed. Salts in our body are called electrolytes and they work in a buddy system.
Sodium and potassium are buddies that chemically can donate one electron for chemical bonds or energy interactions and calcium and magnesium can donate two electrons each. These minerals power nerve signals, muscle contractions and the movement of chemicals across cell membranes. All four are equally essential to have in our diet everyday.

Salt (Sodium chloride) has been a valuable trade commodity in ancient cultures. Seafood and salt mines are good sources.

Potassium is found in all fruits and vegetables.

Calcium is found in hard water, in dairy products, almonds, sesame seeds, beans, greens, canned fish, fortified foods.

Magnesium is found in hard water, beans, nuts, seeds, greens, whole grains, chocolate and a little in most foods.

     We can die with too much or too little of any of the four essential electrolytes. Salt is not bad for us, we just need potassium in similar amounts. Processed foods tend to be overly salted and low in potassium. If we eat that way occasionally, no big deal, but if we eat that way most days then we may become low in potassium.

We lose electrolytes everyday in sweat and in the urine and feces. Muscle cramps can be a symptom of potassium deficiency and heart attacks can occur with abrupt drops in potassium. Muscle cramps may also be a symptom of magnesium or calcium imbalances.

Sweating a lot can leave us low in sodium and other electrolytes. Heatstroke can be due to excess heat [3] but it may also be due to hyponatremia or low sodium blood levels which can leave you feeling weak, dizzy and confused. Drinking plain water without also having a salty food may leave you feeling sick to your stomach if you are too dehydrated. Having a little salt or salty food first and then sipping the water might feel better when trying to rehydrate after a workout. The stomach controls what it lets into the more fragile intestine. If the stomach fluid is too thin and watery or too concentrated and acidic then the stomach will reject the fluid and cause vomiting. If the body has enough stored fluid and electrolytes then the stomach has systems for drawing in what it needs to digest whatever you eat. If you are dehydrated from excessive sweating then your stomach would not have those extra stores to use.

Magnesium may not be as familiar of a nutrient as calcium but it is just as essential to life. Excessive sweating during sports has been associated with sudden stroke later in the day in young athletes. It has been suggested that a sudden drop in magnesium from sweat losses may be the cause. Magnesium acts as the gate keeper in cell membranes and prevents calcium from flooding in from the blood. Calcium turns things on in the body and magnesium turns them off.

Calcium causes muscle fibers to contract and magnesium allows them to relax again. Calcium activates the energy production in the cell’s mitochondria and too much calcium flooding into a brain cell at once can overwork the cell to the point of cell death.

Glutamate and aspartate are amino acids that also act as brain neurotransmitters and their movement is carefully controlled by the protein channels in our cell membranes. Magnesium keeps the protein channels shut, so a sudden drop in magnesium may also cause stroke due to excessive flooding of brain cells by glutamate or aspartate. It might be better to avoid drinking beverages that contain Nutrasweet (Aspartame contains aspartate) by themselves in sweaty situations. A magnesium containing electrolyte beverage like Glaceau’s “Smart Water” would provide the brain cells with magnesium which is needed to prevent calcium, glutamate and aspartate from entering the cell.

 Sweaty situations call for rehydrating with water, and a potassium rich fruit or vegetable or juice and having a salty snack. Have beans, nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds with your salty snack and you have your magnesium losses replaced as well.

Re-hydrating is also important if you are losing fluid in diarrhea or vomit. It’s also worth remembering to hydrate after night sweats or during high fevers. Darker yellow urine is a sign that you are dehydrated. Dry, chapped lips and skin are also symptoms.

No extra money is needed for a fancy bottled beverage when you understand your body’s electrolytes and know which foods and drinks are good sources. Dehydration is a frequent reason that people go to the hospital emergency room but with planning it is a problem that can be prevented.

Thinking about good hydration may help to be more aware of thirst signals. It can be easy to misinterpret thirst as hunger, so sometimes you can save calories and cut back on mindless snacking by trying a drink of water first.

Excerpt: Scientists See Dangers in Energy Drinks, By Jane E. Brody (NY Times, Pub: January 31, 2011) [link]

“The authors noted that “four documented cases of caffeine-associated death have been reported, as well as five separate cases of seizures associated with consumption of energy/power drinks.” Additional reports include an otherwise healthy 28-year-old man who suffered a cardiac arrest after a day of motocross racing; a healthy 18-year-old man who died playing basketball after drinking two cans of Red Bull; and four cases of mania experienced by individuals known to have bipolar disorder.”

/Speculation/ The seizures, cardiac arrest, death after athletics, and mania could all be due to sudden changes in magnesium and potassium levels. The caffeine increases urine volume and urinary magnesium losses and the athletes also lost magnesium in sweat. The protein channels that have inadequate magnesium allow calcium to over-flood cell interiors. The calcium can trigger muscle spasms which may lead to cardiac arrest or stroke. Brain cells would also be vulnerable to over-excitation by calcium or the free amino acids, aspartame and glutamate. Brain cells that are constantly active could be associated with mania or seizures.

We could help prevent brain damage by adequately protecting our cell membranes with more frequent intake of magnesium containing foods and beverages. Seizures, strokes, migraines and mania are related to brain cells getting over stimulated and  the resulting lack of oxygen and energy stores can lead to cell death. The glutamate receptor rich areas of the brain are frequently the most devastated in the brains of sufferers of senile dementia.

 An Easy Solution: put magnesium back in beverages – it is in ground water and it is an essential electrolyte. The U.S. regulated it out in the past and bottlers have been removing it ever since – our intestines are suffering. [water policy history review – a 1920 Water Power Act had to do with hydroelectric water rights more than mineral content. I haven’t found more information about a bottled water act yet, [waterencyclopedia.com]
Every sip of a beverage that does not contain magnesium requires magnesium to be drawn to the intestines and stomach from our stored reserves – which are our bones – our structural support. If we want to stop osteoporosis then we need to be sipping and eating foods with a reasonable quantity of magnesium throughout the day. Any time we consume foods or fluids that have an electrolyte content that doesn’t match the concentration that is normal for our body requires our bodies take nutrients out of the reserves stored within our bones, those reserves run out eventually, leaving bones brittle from osteoporosis.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health care. Please see a health professional for individualized health care./