Calcification of the pineal gland – some statistics and sleep habits

Calcification of the pineal gland was found to be less prevalent in a study collecting data on a group of people of black ethnicity. The following link and article suggest that black people genetically may be less at risk for calcification of the pineal gland.(The pineal gland is important because of hormones like melatonin that it is involved in the production of and calcification reduces function and less melatonin means less quality sleep.I suggest that the research being reviewed may have been performed on a population that did not eat the same as now or as mixed and as similar to each other (black population differences from Caucasian is being discussed in the link.) The review article is suggesting the differing lab findings reflect actual structural or genetic differences but if an assumption that the populations were on similar nutrient ratios compared to now or to each other has been made then the correlation can not be used to draw such a conclusion.

The study in reference was from 1967 in a population with African ancestry. The diet in 1967 was less processed then and calcium fortified products may not have been as common as they are now.

I think reading and reviewing older studies is important but from a questioning perspective – what variables were in play at the time of the research study that may have changed. What differences between then and now may have changed the expected outcome?

There are some fundamental differences between different groups of people so it is certainly possible that the pineal gland has a few differences as well as the kidneys – but in 1974 the Black American group may not have been consuming the same typical diet as the Caucasian group. The blending of cultures and the fast food lifestyle wasn’t as prevalent or as inexpensive compared to home cooking as it is now. (It actually is fairly expensive to put a full meal together compared to buying a similar load of “calories,” not necessarily comparing any other nutrients. Fewer homes had single parents or two working parents compared  to now. I don’t have statistics on that but they may exist.).

The study and article are interesting but  I would like to see it repeated on a group of individuals today.
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PS: calcification is somewhat reversible and the first step is taking in less of it – how can the body ever hope to use up the stored up reserves if too much or even if adequate for maintenance levels are eaten daily – to de-calcify or to run out of reserved calcium we need to dip into the bank account and spend some of it. Some calcium is excreted by the kidneys daily, but just not as much as magnesium losses equal.

On today’s diet, I think people of black ancestry are likely to be just as much at risk of calcification of the pineal gland as anyone else.
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Excerpt from “Pineal Gland: A Cognitive Advantage for Africans”:
By Bernie Douglas (January 17, 2008) [link]

Racial differences have been noted in the rate of pineal calcification as seen in plain skull radiographs. In Caucasians, calcified pineal is visualized in about 50% of adult skull radiographs after the age of 40 years (Wurtman et al, 1964); other scholars argue that Caucasians, in general, may have rates of pineal gland calcification as high as ­60-80% (King, 2001). Murphy (1968) reported a radiological pineal calcification rate of 2% from Uganda, while Daramola and Olowu (1972) in Lagos, Nigeria found a rate of 5%. Adeloye and Felson (1974) found that calcified pineal was twice as common in White Americans as in Blacks in the same city, strengthening a suspicion that there may be a true racial difference with respect to this apparatus. In India a frequency of 13.6% was found (Pande et al, 1984). Calcified pineal gland is a common finding in plain skull radiographs and its value in identifying the midline is still complementary to modern neuroradiological imaging.

There is a surprising rarity of calcified pineal gland on skull roentgenograms in West Africans. Adeloye and Odeku (1967) working from a hospital where an average of about 2,000 skull roentgenographic examinations were done every year, encountered less than 10 cases of roentgenologically visible calcified pineal gland in the Neurosurgery unit during a period of 10 years. In the tasks of daily life, calcification in the pineal gland affects our brain’s ability to function. Calcification of the pineal gland is shown to be closely related to defective sense of direction (Bayliss et al, 1985). In a tricentre prospective study of 750 patients lateral skull radiographs showed that 394 had calcified pineal glands. Sense of direction was assessed by subjective questioning and objective testing and the results noted on a scale of 0-10 (where 10 equals perfect sense of direction). The average score for the 394 patients with pineal gland calcification was 3.7 (range 0-8), whereas the 356 patients without pineal gland calcification had an average score of 7.6 (range 2-10). This difference was highly significant (p less than 0.01) (Bayliss et al, 1985). Also, the effects of disturbed sleep and memory are well documented.

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[bonus link]on sleep personality types, “What’s Your Alarm Clock Personality?” by Sharon Tanenbaum, (11/16/11) on everydayhealth.com – not nutrition related as much as clues about how we tend to meet the day and how that might reflect on how we look forward to life – or sleep quality may have more to do with pillow softness – not sure.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the 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.
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