Calcium Crazy: Why you actually need LESS Calcium and more Magnesium

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Calcified heart valve (near the center)One of the things I dread the most as a heart surgeon is… calcium. Yes, severely calcified valves and arteries are probably my worst nightmare. To remove the calcium, we have to use surgical instruments such as the “bone eater” – and even with that you struggle a lot! Eventually the instruments end up losing their sharp cutting edge. It is like cutting a rock, I kid you not. Tissues that should be smooth and silky are calcified and have the consistency of a rock or a bone. It has gotten worse over the years and there could be other factors involved as well, but magnesium is one of those things that is absolutely essential -and usually it shines by its absence in most therapies!

Magnesium helps to dissolve calcium; it becomes more water soluble. So with foods artificially enriched with calcium, and the boom of calcium supplementation, there is never enough magnesium. Already in 1936 in the US Senate, there were discussions about dangerous diet deficiencies due to mineral depleted soils. Foods raised on millions of acres of land no longer contain enough of certain minerals, no matter how much of them you eat (and this was in the 1930’s!). So usually there is always a constant deficiency in magnesium in most populations.

If you don’t have enough magnesium to help keep calcium dissolved, you end up with calcium-excess spasms, calcification of arteries, calcium deposits, kidney stones, spasms of your blood vessels (which can lead to heart attacks and angina), migraine headaches, broncospasm (asthma), arrhythmias, etc. Magnesium deficiencies are also seen in depression and anxieties!

Magnesium is involved in over 325 enzymatic reactions in the body that regulate metabolism, energy production, electrical currents, etc. Even people who try to detoxify can’t really do it if they’re low in magnesium because it is involved in crucial enzymatic reactions that helps the body to detoxify. All chronic diseases involve inflammation and where there is inflammation you can be certain that there is a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium has also been used successfully as a pain reliever when used transdermally.

Calcium supplementation is not bad as long as one takes enough magnesium supplementation and even magnesium baths along with it. I personally can attest to the great benefits of transdermal magnesium therapy (magnesium baths), it is the greatest relaxer mineral on earth.

Other than a mineral imbalance that leads to calcium excess and inflammation, we have certain bacteria which can also cause calcification in heart disease. Here I’m talking about Chlamydia pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae in calcified nodes of blood vessels throughout the body, including the heart and the aorta.

There are usually multiple factors involved, but I wanted to bring attention here to the subject of magnesium which is quite frequently overlooked.

A good book that puts things into perspective is The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean, MD, ND and Magnesium Medicine by Mark Sircus, AC, OMD.

Diet, supplementation, magnesium baths and a far infrared sauna can keep the surgeons away!

Further reading:

Chlamydia pneumoniae involved in both heart disease and infertility [link]

Can Degenerative Aortic Valve Stenosis Be Related to Persistent Chlamydia pneumoniae Infection? [link]

Detoxify or Die by Sherry Rogers.

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  1. Anna La Rocca  August 15, 2010

    Just recently,about tree week’s ago i visited a Homeopathy,ND and Naturopathy Dr. After test’s and chekin all my supplement’s, she found that i was taking too much both Magnesium and Calcium. I have taken Multi-supplement for many year’s. By Chiropratic Dr. true extrays, they discovered in tree places,neck,middle back and left hip some bone loss. My diet is fresh organic produce ,little meat,turkey,chicken, more legumen’s,bean’s,salmon,mackerol,gluten free bread,fruit’s. I have no pain,I walk,stretch ,exercise,swim . Your response , I thank you,Anna O. La Rocca

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  August 16, 2010

      Your diet and lifestyle sounds really good. But legumes have lectins that are being related to all kinds of diseases in sensitive individuals, including osteoporosis. You might be interested in the following Lectin Report: As long as you use fermentation methods and pre-soaking methods, you should be on the safe side. I generally recommend all people to do an elimination diet to test for foods that they might be sensitive to and that may be contributing to their health problems. You can find an elimination diet here:

      Make sure you got the right magnesium testing done. Normal magnesium analysis are unreliable because they don’t measure real levels of magnesium. Among reliable tests we have the EXATest and the red blood cell magnesium test, also the ionic magnesium testing. In order to make good use of calcium, we need to have a good intake of magnesium. I don’t take calcium supplementation, and rely on diet alone for my calcium intake (green leafy veggies, sardines). But I do take plenty of magnesium chelate. Make sure you are also dairy free, more info here:
      Why milk is so evil

      Hope this helps.

  2. Stav  May 29, 2015

    I have read with great interest the comments and shall be much obliged if you can enlist me and send me more information about the aortic valve calcification and Magnesium amounts I have to take daily
    Kind Regards

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  May 29, 2015

      You can take 800mg of magnesium per day in two or three doses. Keep in mind that dietary changes are the pillar of everything. See for instance, “Wheat Belly” by cardiologist William Davis.

      You can choose magnesium malate, threonate or taurate. They’re pretty good.

      • Joanna  July 1, 2015

        What about magnesium citrate? It is highly absorbable. I too would like to know if magnesium and K2 supplements can reverse bicuspid aortic calcification….I do not want to do valve replacement and need this calcification to be reduced/softened. Also we need whole grains. Are we safe in choosing an organic non GMO whole grain wheat or oat bread? Can you please advise?

      • Gabriela Segura, MD  July 1, 2015

        Hello Joanna, do get “Life Without Bread” by Christian B. Allan and Wolfgang Lutz. They document regression on valve calcification with a low carb diet. In short, you won’t be able to regress it while you eat whole grains.

        Magnesium citrate has good absorption, if that is what you can get, you can try that. Vitamin K2 is also good. But do read that book to give you an idea of what you can do and what to expect. Best!

  3. Joanna  July 1, 2015

    Gabriela, Thank you for your quick reply. You mention regression. Is that the same as reversal of calcification? I have a bicuspid aortic stenosis analyzed to be .5cm (squared). Of course I was told to do valve replacement but I have no real symptoms with good heart rhythm and excellent blood pressure. I want to do everything to reverse this calcification that I have read actually does occur. I need to know how to ask for a blood test to determine how much A, D, K2, magnesium, potassium, calcium etc., to actually need to make this happen. Conventional doctors do not even know about this and even less about the importance of K2 in the reversal of calcification on aortic valves. I also never took calcium supplements but my bicuspid valve calcified now at age 54 even though I have a balanced diet (but with bread and sweets) and not enough of K2…nobody I believe knows much about this and the importance of vitamin D. I spend a lot of time in the sun whenever I can but without K2 looks like harm has been done along with this nation’s carb diet. Anyway, I am changing everything to get on the road towards REVERSING calcification. This is key and any information of conclusive evidence that this can be done will be helpful. Thank you so much!

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  July 1, 2015

      Congenital aortic bicuspid valve typically calcifies earlier than natural degeneration of a normal aortic valve in a modern world and diet. Do get the book Life Without Bread, yes some calcification was regressed in some cases of heart valve calcification.

      Rather than focusing on specific lab nutrients and measurements, focus on changing your diet and healing your body. You can ask any alternative health care provider to run some tests, but nothing like taking the steps to reverse the problem. The American school is really big on lab tests and diagnostic tests… Don’t over rely on them. There is really much you can do to take care of yourself. If it comes to the point that you need aortic valve replacement, your body-mind-soul will be much better prepared to recover from the surgery. Don’t blame yourself if at some point you require the surgery as well. Keep an open mind.

      Do read the book and check also “Deep Nutrition” by Catherine Shanahan. Best!

  4. Joanna  July 1, 2015

    Also, what are the procedures of vitamin therapy for reversing aortic valve calcification and valve REPAIR in parallel? Is this a treatment process? I am hoping that I should see an improvement in 6 months to one year on my next echo exam. What kind of aortic valve repair can be done?

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  July 1, 2015

      Joanna, there is nothing that specific. You can try alleviating or healing the root of the problem, but you need to do research and read the recommended books to have a better idea. If the valve is too calcified, it is best replaced. Open heart surgery is quite a procedure, if a repair gets calcified in a short time, that won’t do. A redo heart surgery is much more problematic and difficult.

  5. Joanna  July 1, 2015

    Thank you Gabriela, I understand. My idea about valve repair goes in parallel to never allow calcification to the degree before the diet to divert another operation. I would think the pig valves calcify because the individual did nothing to change their diet? Why are they only good for 10-15 years? Also, I believe there are new synthetic valves now that are not mechanical in nature but last just as long without blood thinners and with minimum invasive surgery.

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  July 1, 2015

      Although that might be the case, “prepare for the worst, hope for the best, take what comes”. Many aspects can slow down calcification, but keep in mind that no technology has been able to mimic the “perfect” trileaflet aortic valve. Smooth blood flow vs “non smooth” flow through the valve is an important factor in its calcification. When the valve is too calcified, it is hard or impossible to repair.

  6. Joanna  July 1, 2015

    Thanks again! I ordered the books you recommended today and was wondering if organic non GMO wheat bread is still considered not healthy? When did real bread affect our older generations? Our family is ready to go gluten free as it sounds like this is the main issue, however I believe the GMO gluten has caused issues.

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  July 1, 2015

      For a history on bread, you can read “Wheat Belly” by cardiologist William Davis. GMO is evil, but the problem with bread stems from several reasons: hybridization is just one. That is different from GMO. Look up Wheat Belly by William Davis on google, there are excellent articles which sum up the research there. Reading the book is extremely enlightening though. It addresses your questions.

  7. Joanna  July 1, 2015

    When you say whole grains, are you including corn, oats, corn and brown rice as opposed to white rice as well? Here is a link to the definition of whole grains: Does the book eliminate all of these?

  8. Joanna  July 1, 2015

    I have a family member who cannot handle gluten. As fur me other than my calcification, I have no issues with gluten as far as actually having any issues at all that are noticeable. Maybe bloating but non if the real sickness demonstrated/experienced by truly intolerant gluten individuals. So, I understand that’s certain enzyme that is missing creates this havoc of feeling sick which may not be realized for many years. Again as for me I have not had any bad reaction from dairy or gluten but this calcification that I cannot detect on my is painless so far.

    While many people think that buckwheat is a cereal grain, it is actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel making it a suitable substitute for grains for people who are sensitive to wheat or other grains that contain protein glutens.

    Gabriela, How do we substitute the healthy side of whole grains? “By keeping the entire grain intact, the whole grain retains more nutritional benefits than processed grains. One of the main benefits of whole grains is the high fiber content. A diet that is rich in fiber has shown to reduce certain cancers, specifically colon cancer, diabetes, digestive problems and heart disease.”

    The rich supply of nutrients found in whole grains also helps to support a healthy immune system. The whole grain is able to supply the body with a range of nutrients and vitamins, which help the immune system to function properly.

    The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that adult women get between 3 to 6 oz of whole grains a day.

    Because oat bran is just the bran, and doesn’t contain the germ or the endosperm, it is not considered a whole grain. To learn more about what counts as a whole grain, see this webpage.
    Types of Oats | The Whole Grains Council › types-of-oats

    Seems time that the “life without bread” concept is advocating no gluten, bran or germ? “Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ.”

    I am so depressed and confused. So to stop my aortic calcification I must stop eating whole grain brown rice? This is not healthy for the heart, arteries? Please help.

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  July 1, 2015

      The USDA’s advice is part of thte problem. Notice that it is the department of agriculture. Vested interests in agriculture makes their nutritional advice not reliable. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get the same results. Don’t overwhelm yourself, read the recommended books, one step at a time. Knowledge will protect you. You have to be open minded to revise your knowledge of even things you always took for granted: that mainstream advice is actually useful. If so, why people thrive when they go against the grain? Dr. William Davis from the Wheat Belly book also has a book on recipes. First, do get acquainted with the research. Understanding why you do certain dietary changes is very important and I cannot summarize them for you through this means. Step by step, be patient with this learning process. You’re revising concepts of a lifetime.

      • Joanna  July 3, 2015

        I haven’t reviewed my books yet but I read in another place that whole grains as long as they haven’t been modified, refined but in their natural state dies not convert to sugar that readily. The key is to eat food in its natural non GMO state. Can you please explain that there exists a whole wheat difference and the wheat that has not been stripped of its natural state for example. Same holds true of real rye, barley, oats.

      • Gabriela Segura, MD  July 3, 2015

        No dice, sorry. It is still more of the same old thing. Check out the Wheat Belly Blog while you read the books or received them, you need information, not disinformation.

        I’m sure you’ve done research on anti-calcifying supplements and remedies. FWIW, you’ll find more information on that here:–03-july-2015–medicinal-herbs

  9. Joanna  July 3, 2015

    Yes I need lots of information. Our ancestors waste lines were not do big. But they did eat breads unlike the way it is today…that’s what is confusing. Just curious, what dies your breakfast look like?

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  July 3, 2015

      Bacon and eggs!

      • Joanna  July 3, 2015

        Do you make any muffins with finely ground nuts instead of flour?

      • Gabriela Segura, MD  July 5, 2015

        I don’t eat that stuff, it is not part of my culture. But yeah, that sounds alright.

  10. Danielle  January 7, 2016

    Dr. Segura,
    I have read as much as I could on your site to learn about calcification and the calcium/magnesium connection. My father is 68, his medical history is long and complicated, starting with Hodgkins at 16 (receiving treatment in 1963), when there were really no guidelines for administration and his whole chest was radiated. He’s had open heart surgery, 2002 and a pig valve around 2004. He’s been told that the radiation from his cancer treatment has caused an enormous amount of calcification in and around his heart and chest. He is not a candidate for open-heart surgery. In the past 6 months his condition has deteriorated. His mitral valve, which is calcified most, is developing a stenosis so bad that some of the best doctors have told him there’s no hope. He’s not ready to give up at 68. I know there is no miracle out there but is it at all possible for you to give me some doctors in my area who practice the magnesium treatments? We live in the NYC area but I would travel near and far to improve his quality of life while he’s on this planet.

    • Gabriela Segura, MD  January 7, 2016

      Due to the lack of research and documented reports, the only cases that I’ve learned where there was regression of calcification has been with a keto diet. You can read the cases in “Life Without Bread” by Allan and Lutz here:

      The book clarifies how the diet looks like. Ideally it should be free of grains, dairy, moderated in proteins and high in animal fats, and restricted in carbs. If I remember correctly, it was a mitral stenosis that got better when the patient restricted carbs and started to eat more animal fats. I’ve posted about the benefits of the keto diet here:

      The heart works best with animal fat as a dietary source of fat. Another thing your father can do is EDTA and a general detox program which includes FIR sauna. There are documented cases of regression in heart failure and amelioration of symptoms with FIR sauna. You can check out this center for more information:

      I’m not acquainted with the American system, but I think a functional physician can do the EDTA treatment in your area. It also helps with calcification, other than detoxing heavy metals and excess iron. EDTA is something that is available orally over the counter or by parenteral use with a prescription.

      Once your father has done a low carb diet (moderated in protein and high in animal fat), FIR, EDTA and/or nutritional IV support (for instance, with vitamin C and magnesium), he will feel better. As his condition improves, you can search for a heart surgical team who is willing to do a redo-mitral valve replacement in a patient with chest calcification post radiation therapy. I’m only familiarized with European centers and I already retired from heart surgery. But it wouldn’t be unheard of to see some of those cases operated in Northern Italy. I assisted once such intervention and yes, it is extremely difficult with a very high morbidity and possible mortality. But it is not impossible. The main surgeon has to have a huge accumulated experience and a very good hand, and he must be willing to operate too. Your father really should have received a mechanical valve in the first surgery to avoid the possibility of a redo surgery.

      For the time being, best to manage this mainly with functional medicine. I think that he will feel much better with nutritional support and detox measures. If he has a good quality of life, perhaps the surgery can be skipped altogether.

      Best regards.


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