Melatonin and the Pineal Gland

Melatonin is a hormone with immune and antioxidant importance. It is produced in the pineal gland at nighttime when there is no light present. The pineal gland can be at risk of calcification. It needs iodine and may be more at risk of calcification when excess fluoride is present and/or limited magnesium. (See: Alzheimer’s Disease & Pineal Calcification, Carolyn Dean MD) (Magnesium sources) (Pineal Calcification, Melatonin Production, Aging, Associated Health Conditions and Rejuvenation of the Pineal Gland, PubMed)

Calcification of the pineal gland may also interfere with our sense of direction possibly due to disruption of internal magnetic fields. (Pineal Gland Calcification and Defective Sense of Direction, PubMed)

Complete darkness during sleep hours with blackout curtains and any nightlight/alarm clocks or other electronic equipment lights are covered. Having some full spectrum light during awake hours may also help. (See: Sleep and Health).

Lack of typical levels of melatonin is more common in patients with breast or prostate cancer or for people on the autism spectrum. See ~ 1:08:00 in the video: Quiet Wars: Frequencies of Death. 

There may be a protective effect by female hormones or increased risk for males- more severe calcification is associated with more severe prostate or pancreatic cancer and less severe with breast or cervical cancer. (Pineal Calcification Among Black Patients, PubMed).

Quiet Wars: Frequencies of Death.

/Disclaimer: 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./

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.

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.

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.


[bonus link]on sleep personality types, “What’s Your Alarm Clock Personality?” by Sharon Tanenbaum, (11/16/11) on – 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.

Calcification of soft tissue – hardening organs and softening bone

     Vascular calcification is better known as atherosclerosis. Cholesterol plaques in blood vessels are generally a mixture of calcium with the fat. Calcification also occurs in arthritis as bone spurs and calcium can collect in organs and glands and impair their function. The pineal gland is very tiny and located within the brain. It it responsible for the melatonin hormone that helps us sleep. A calcified pineal gland no longer helps with sleep but the condition may be reversible by limiting intake of calcium and increasing intake of magnesium.     Reversing calcification may start with reducing calcium intake. The following article mentions a link between higher intake of calcium and worsening of coronary artery calcification and numbers of deaths within a group of end stage renal disease patients. Magnesium is wasted by healthy kidneys and little is recycled/reclaimed the way calcium and sodium are conserved by healthy kidneys – add end stage renal disease and magnesium is leaking out faster then intestinal absorption can occur even if the magnesium was in the food or drink or supplement.

Calcium can not make strong bones if nothing is keeping it from leaking out in response to the stress chemicals’ fight or flight messages. People suffer from osteoporosis and weak bones along with hardening of the arteries and organs –  excess calcium and vitamin D might be part of the problem. Too much active vitamin D can add to calcium imbalance because it signals the bones to let go of stored calcium and magnesium.

The minerals are also released during stress reactions in case there is a need to run from danger or heal a wound. White blood cells around wounds have the enzyme needed to activate vitamin D to the hormone form.

What do you know – it is important to mellow out and de-stress to help keep bone tissue hard and organ tissue soft.

  1. [ Calcification Mechanisms, by Cecilia M. Giachellidoi: 10.1097/01.ASN.0000145894.57533.C4 JASN December 1, 2004 vol. 15 no. 12 2959-2964

“In a landmark study, Goodman et al. (24)  found that coronary artery calcification occurred in young patients with ESRD (end stage renal disease) decades before this pathology was observed in the normal population. Furthermore, progression of vascular calcification in this group was positively correlated with serum P levels, Ca x P, and daily intake of Ca (24).”

***Vascular calcification has been correlated to higher intakes of calcium and phosphorus in this research article. Cardiovascular deaths are common among end stage renal disease and/or diabetic patients – I suggest they should be limiting calcium and phosphorus and increasing their magnesium intake in order to reduce risks of calcium overload. In the average human the kidneys favor calcium absorption and retention and waste magnesium.
Over the course of mankind the body adapted to a food and water supply that was abundant in magnesium and limited in calcium content. Calcium is important for strong bones but only in combination with other nutrients. Vitamin K (brown rice, green leafy vegetables and good guy bacteria in our intestines are sources) is essential for blood clotting and for healthy bones. Strontium is a trace mineral that may be essential to healthy bones and of course magnesium is the trace mineral that helps keep calcium inside of the bone where it belongs. Excessive levels of active vitamin D tell the bone to release the stored minerals. Active vitamin D (a very strong steroid based hormone in actuality) can switch on and off 900+ genes.
The study found (unsurprisingly) that the end stage renal disease patients who were treated with the typical phosphate binding medications that contained calcium had 28% progression of calcification compared to the experimental group who were given a phosphate binding agent that didn’t contain calcium. [12]

Let’s keep the calcium in the bone tissue where it belongs.

The article Vascular Calcification Mechanisms [1] presents four potential ways the soft tissue calcification may develop.

“First, human and mouse genetic findings have determined that blood vessels normally express inhibitors of mineralization, such as pyrophosphate and matrix gla protein, respectively, and that lack of these molecules (“loss of inhibition”) leads to spontaneous vascular calcification and increased mortality (10,29).”

Second – genetic/phontypic changes leading to production of bone proteins within the blood vessel may occur (the blood vessel cell switches on bone cell mechanisms).

“Third, bone turnover leading to release of circulating nucleational complexes has been proposed to explain the link between vascular calcification and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women (41–43).”

“Fourth, cell death can provide phospholipid-rich membranous debris and apoptotic bodies that may serve to nucleate apatite, especially in diseases where necrosis and apoptosis are prevalent, such as atherosclerosis (34,44,45).”

*** Magnesium deficiency could effect the enzyme production necessary for producing the “inhibitors” of bone formation produced in functioning blood vessels. Magnesium is crucial to over 300 enzymes. It is also essential for the growth of healthy white blood cells. A plentiful supply of white blood cells would engulf waste products of apoptosis and the dead cell material wouldn’t be left messing up vessel walls. Chronic magnesium deficiency will promote bone turnover in order to access the stored magnesium found within. Long term kidney problems may be reducing the amount of magnesium that the body can retain and further through off the calcium/magnesium balance.
Chronically elevated active D would chronically cause demineralization of the bones and also might be switching on and off genes in areas of the body (blood vessels for example) that shouldn’t be forming bone tissue. I would be very curious what the end stage renal disease patients’ 1, 25 D levels (hormone) are compared to their 25 D levels (vitamin).  My 1, 25 D levels have been at the high end of normal and 25 D levels below normal (“deficient”) for five years of testing. I have been actively avoiding supplements and foods with vitamin D and much time in the sun during that time because I have found it reduces my symptoms of  muscle knots (fibromyalgia), I also have taken magnesium supplements regularly.
A 200-500 mg supplement taken along with food generally will not cause the smooth muscles of the intestines to relax into a sudden bowel movement. Magnesium supplements are non-toxic but if absorbed too rapidly can cause too much muscle relaxation in the bowels or heart. Fluttery weak heart beats may result if you hang out in an Epsom salt bath for a long time due to the relaxation of too many of the muscle fibers at the same time. Magnesium taken with food or in the glycinate form does’t seem to have the over relaxing effect on the bowels.
Magnesium helps keep the calcium in the bone and out of the soft tissue. Use the calcium channel blocker that Mother Nature provided – magnesium. Eat more nuts, beans, seeds, green leafy vegetables. and chocolate every day for strong bones and soft organs!

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.

Reference List

From Vitamin D bibliography [link]:

10. Rutsch F, Ruf N, Vaingankar S, Toliat MR, Suk A, Hohne W, Schauer G, Lehmann M, Roscioli T, Schnabel D, Epplen JT, Knisely A, Superti-Furga A, McGill J, Filippone M, Sinaiko AR, Vallance H, Hinrichs B, Smith W, Ferre M, Terkeltaub R, Nurnberg P: Mutations in ENPP1 are associated with “idiopathic” infantile arterial calcification. Nat Genet 34: 379–381, 2003[CrossRef][Medline]
12. Sangiorgi G, Rumberger JA, Severson A, Edwards WD, Gregoire J, Fitzpatrick LA, Schwartz RS: Arterial calcification and not lumen stenosis is highly correlated with atherosclerotic plaque burden in humans: A histologic study of 723 coronary artery segments using nondecalcifying methodology. J Am Coll Cardiol 31: 126–133, 1998[Abstract/Free Full Text]

29. Luo G DP, McKee MD, Pinero GJ, Loyer E, Behringer RR, and Karsenty: G Spontaneous calcification of arteries and cartilage in mice lacking matrix GLA protein. Nature 386(March 6): 78–81, 1997[CrossRef][Medline]

34. Tanimura A, McGregor DH, Anderson HC: Matrix vesicles in atherosclerotic calcification. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 172: 173–177, 1983[CrossRef][Medline]

  1. Price PA, Caputo JM, Williamson MK: Bone origin of the serum complex of calcium, phosphate, fetuin, and matrix Gla protein: Biochemical evidence for the cancellous bone-remodeling compartment. J Bone Miner Res 17: 1171–1179, 2002[CrossRef][Medline]
  2. Price PA, Faus SA, Williamson MK: Bisphosphonates alendronate and ibandronate inhibit artery calcification at doses comparable to those that inhibit bone resorption. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 21: 817–824, 2001[Abstract/Free Full Text]
  3. Price PA, June HH, Buckley JR, Williamson MK: Osteoprotegerin inhibits artery calcification induced by warfarin and by vitamin D. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 21: 1610–1616, 2001[Abstract/Free Full Text]
  4. Proudfoot D, Skepper JN, Hegyi L, Bennett MR, Shanahan CM, Weissberg PL: Apoptosis regulates human vascular calcification in vitro: Evidence for initiation of vascular calcification by apoptotic bodies. Circ Res 87: 1055–1062, 2000[Abstract/Free Full Text]
  5. Schoen FJ, Tsao JW, Levy RJ: Calcification of bovine pericardium used in cardiac valve bioprostheses. Am J Pathol 123: 134–145, 1986[Abstract]
  • [ Sahai, Modeling apatite nucleation in the human body and in the geochemical environment American Journal of Science, Vol. 305, June/September/October 2005, P.661-672; doi:10.2475/ajs.305.6-8.661

“Magnesium inhibits nucleation by adsorbing faster than calcium, as an outer-sphere surface complex, at the active site.”