Several authorities in the field of natural health care have been very critical of coral calcium. The arguments raised against coral calcium include lack of efficacy, contamination by dangerous metals, and fraudulent advertising. Information about body pH changes in disease, oxygenation of body tissues, mineral reserves of the skeleton, and vitamin D status in US citizens can help resolve whether coral calcium might have value in therapy. Importance of pH in Health and Disease States The normal pH of the body ranges from 7.35-7.45. During rest, metabolism of the muscle tissues that support the body, heart contractions, and diaphragmatic movement continuously generate lactic acid that lowers pH. Dietary residues also usually generate acidic substances that must be eliminated to prevent chronic acidosis. Acidic waste products are removed by respiration (carbon dioxide), excretion by the kidneys, sweating, and fecal evacuation. Acidic states below the ideal slightly alkaline pH of 7.4 are rigorously corrected by the body using buffering minerals such as calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, strontium, cesium, and rubidium. Persons living in developed societies spend most of their days in buildings and homes which have artificial light. Very little time is spent in sunlight, and when in the sun most persons wear sunglasses and are covered with sunscreen. This sets the stage for a serious deficiency of ultraviolet light and subsequent cholesterol-converted vitamin D, which is a critical nutrient for the body. Vitamin D is essential for proper absorption of minerals. When ultraviolet light is lacking, there is a failure to properly absorb alkaline minerals (calcium and magnesium) which the body stores in bone and keeps in reserve to prevent acidosis from becoming severe. Persons lacking ultraviolet light have a decreased ability to combat acidosis and lower vitamin D and calcium levels. These stored alkaline minerals are a resource which enables the body to preserve a satisfactory pH when acidotic states occur. In the event of chronic acidosis, the body is able to preserve pH close to normal (7.4) by the steady release of calcium and magnesium from bone. Eventually, if the acidotic state does not resolve, the body’s bone mineral reserves become exhausted. By the time this becomes apparent, the bones have become weak and soft (osteoporosis), and the incidence of hip, spine, and other fractures skyrockets. Nations (e.g., US, Germany, and Sweden) that eat a diet high in animal protein (meat, fish, and cheese) have 40 times more hip fractures than nations eating predominantly a vegetable and fruit diet (e.g., Thailand). This difference is explained by the fact that a high protein intake promotes acidosis, whereas a high fruit and vegetable diet results in alkalosis. When the bone mineral reserves have been exhausted, the acidosis becomes worse, and there is a serious deficit of oxygen in body tissues. The consequences of this are the appearance of degenerative diseases including cancer, arteriosclerosis, allergic disorders, hypertension, depression, and arthritis. Meat, poultry, fish, cheese, coffee, carbonated beverages, alcohol, cigarettes, sugars, bread, and cereals break down into acid residue. Alkaline residues are created from the intake of fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, milk, yogurt and herbal tea. Citrus fruits contain weak citric acid, but the alkaline minerals they contain more than balance the citric acid, resulting in an alkaline residue. Every day we are exposed to tobacco smoke, pesticides, herbicides, fossil fuels, fluorohydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, acid rain, refined processed food, and sugar — all of which create acid residue. All pharmaceutical drugs are metabolized into acid residues. Because alkaline fluids contain more oxygen than acidic fluids, the very slight increase in alkalinity from pH 7.3 to 7.45 raises the oxygen reserves carried by our blood by 65%. We are all wise to eat a preponderance of alkaline foods. Genes dictate which degenerative disorders an individual is prone to develop, but the development of anoxia and chronic acidosis appears to play a more important role in the development of illness than does a person’s genetic makeup. Genes are a convenient scapegoat for the failure of modern medicine to stop the rising tide of cancer, arteriosclerosis, Type 2 diabetes, and allergic diseases. In acidotic states, potassium is unable to enter the cell, and the level of potassium in the blood level tends to be high normal or elevated. Because of the inability of potassium to enter the cells, the intake of neutral potassium chloride can be dangerous as it can cause a rise in blood potassium levels which may lead to heart stoppage (cardiac arrest). In alkalotic states, potassium readily enters the cell, and the blood potassium values tend to be low normal or below normal. The brilliant physician, Dr. Max Gerson, often administered three alkaline salts of potassium (gluconate, acetate, and phosphate) to successfully treat cancer patients. Many of these patients had elevated levels of potassium in their blood prior to the institution of potassium alkalinizing salts. On first glance this might appear dangerous, but the alkalinizing effects of the three potassium salts were immediate, and there was prompt movement of potassium into the cells preventing high levels of potassium from developing. Among the cured patients was Dr. Albert Schweitzer. In 1924, Dr. Otto Warburg, a Nobel Prize winning physician, demonstrated that the development of cancer occurred in the absence of oxygen. When he lowered the oxygen level in tissues by 35 percent, cancer could be produced almost at will. When oxygen insufficiency is present in a cell, glucose ferments into two particles of lactic acid which greatly aggravates the already abnormally acidic interior of the cell. This intracellular environment of excess acid and lack of oxygen causes failure of normal DNA production. A carcinogen (free radicals from heavy metals, pesticides, synthetic manufactured fats, nitrites, tars from cigarettes, benzene, etc.) can enter these abnormal cells and cause a mutation of the DNA leading to a cancer cell. Adequate stores of cellular calcium keeps the adhesion between cells intact. When calcium stores are lost, the ability of cells to bind together is impaired, and it becomes easier for cancer cells to spread locally — by blood and lymphatic channels (metastases). The alkaline minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, strontium, and cesium) decrease the acidosis that leads to many diseases. Parts of the world lacking sunlight have a much higher incidence of cancer, multiple sclerosis, and allergic diseases than areas with plentiful sunlight. We need to realize that ultraviolet light is an important nutrient similar to food. Sunlight must not be blocked with sunscreens or sunglasses. The tribes of the world known for longevity, with one exception (Okinawa), are found at high altitudes (Tibetans, Hunzas of North Pakistan, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Georgians, and the Titicacas of Peru), and all are characterized by the drinking of eroded rocky water and the consumption of food grown with this water. This water contains larger than normal amounts of alkaline minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, cesium).
The Okinawa populace are growing food with and drinking water that has an alkaline pH. This water has a pH of 8.61 (very alkaline). Blood pH values in Okinawa are also higher than persons living in other nations. When a gram of fossilized stony coral minerals with 86 percent calcium is placed in a glass of distilled water the pH rises to 9.5-11.5. The Hunzas and the Hopi Indians of Arizona do not get cancer unless they leave their homelands. The Hopis are protected by large amounts of alkaline rubidium in their food and water and the Hunzas by large amounts of alkaline cesium. The Hunzas and Hopis eat copious amounts of apricot pits which contain vitamin B17 (laetrile). Persons eating B17 never get cancer, and cancer therapy survivors who stay on laetrile (B17) do not relapse.1 Calcium has many important functions, including providing electrical energy for the heart to beat and muscles to move. The nourishing of cells depends on calcium facilitating the movement of nutrients into the cells. One of the most vital functions of calcium is involved in the replication of DNA. If calcium is lacking, poor repair of tissues and premature aging will result because of inadequate replication of DNA. Possibly the most critical use for calcium is in controlling the pH of the body. Acidic solutions have depleted oxygen levels, and alkaline solutions have an abundance of oxygen. The presence of calcium in tissues mops up acid and increases the oxygen in the tissue. Thus calcium contributes to increasing the alkalinity of body tissues and helps prevent the occurrence of cancer and other degenerative diseases. In 1954, Dr. Carl J. Reich, an innovative Canadian physician, treated four patients with chronic diarrhea or asthma and hay fever that he felt had calcium deficiency. He treated them with intravenous calcium and vitamin D -rich halibut oil. These patients promptly recovered, as did a seven-year-old boy who had asthma from birth. Dr. Reich became convinced that mineral deficiency produced acidosis, leading to diseases. His studies suggested that many allergic conditions were actually caused by deficiencies of minerals and vitamin D. He began treating a wide variety of patients with megadosages of vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and Vitamin D, along with daily sun exposure, without sunscreens or sunglasses, for 1-2 hours. Many illnesses, including cancer, were greatly improved. Eventually this simple concept — that vitamins in large dosage could reverse or prevent diseases, including cancer — became so disturbing to the medical authorities his medical license was revoked. Dr. Reich realized that when the body was lacking cal cium and minerals, bone was broken down under the influence of parathyroid hormone to create calcium. Calcium was also being removed from saliva, cerebrospinal fluid, and other body fluids to try to keep the blood pH normal at 7.4. A simple pH test of the saliva two hours after eating can disclose whether mineral deficiency may be present. Repeated test results in the very acidic pH (5.0) level suggest that alkaline mineral reserves are in danger of being depleted if the acidotic state is not corrected. Free radicals are strongly felt to be responsible for many degenerative conditions (cancer, cataracts, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, etc.). Free radicals are electron deficient and have a positive charge. They are effectively mopped up by the presence of large amounts of negatively charged alkaline minerals in an alkaline pH and thus prevented from producing disease. Coral polyps digest minerals and convert them into an organic substance that may be easier to absorb than conventional calcium supplements. In addition, they contain 73 other minerals often lacking in food grown from our trace mineral-depleted soil. Serious depletion of soil minerals has occurred through out the world but is worst in North America. The farmers’ financial struggles do not encourage the supplementation of soil with trace minerals. Lack of trace minerals impairs the function of enzymes, which do not work normally until the trace minerals are restored. 60% of US Citizens Have Vitamin D Deficiency Lack of vitamin D has always been found among the elderly and the housebound. This deficiency is related to higher rates of cancer (breast, ovary, colon, and prostate), increased incidence of multiple sclerosis, progression of osteoarthritis, impairment of the immune response, high blood pressure, mood disorders (including serious depression), Type 1 diabetes, and tuberculosis. Lack of vitamin D appears to be a prime factor in the rising incidence of depression, along with a lack of omega 3 fatty acids in the diet. Patients with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, congestive heart failure, and Alzheimer’s disease have all been found to have significant deficits of vitamin D. In an important study from the March 19, 1998, New England Journal of Medicine, 290 patients admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital were studied for evidence of vitamin D deficiency. Fifty-seven percent of these patients were found to be deficient, and in 22% the deficiency was severe. In a subgroup of 77 healthy pa tients with an average age of 44 years, 42% were vitamin D deficient, and in 11% the lack was severe. A surprising and disconcerting finding in this study was that 46% of those regularly taking vitamin supplements were found to be lacking adequate vitamin D in their blood. Research by Dr. Reinhold Vieth appears to unravel this puzzle. Dr. Vieth and his colleagues at the University of Toronto have learned that any amount of vitamin D below 800 2 IU daily was unable to prevent vitamin D deficiency from occurring. He thinks that the proper dosage of vitamin D may be 1,200 IU or more. Coral complex is an exception, as this fossilized stony coral mineral complex contains 1,200 IU of vitamin D. Osteoporosis is now being diagnosed in women in their 40s. These patients exhibit intense bone pain, muscle weakness, and even difficulty in walking. Some women with fibromyalgia, who have similar symptoms, have been discovered to have lower than normal bone density, which is very suspicious of osteoporosis. Twenty percent of the patients in rheumatologists’ offices are suffering from fibromyalgia, which is a very common and very disabling problem for many women. All persons suspected of fibromyalgia should have vitamin D blood levels checked. Therapy is easy with vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium. However, for optimum health one should receive a complete whole food mineral complex. Dr. G.A. Plotnikoff, of the University of Minnesota Medical School, measured 25 (OH) D [calcidiol] blood levels in 150 patients in a chronic pain clinic. He discovered that 100% of the black, Hispanic, East African, and American Indians in this clinic were vitamin D deficient3 , and 93% of all patients were vitamin D deficient. Young women in their childbearing years were found to be at great risk for not being diagnosed. Many of these patients had been having pain for years without ever having vitamin D levels checked. This suggests that chronic musculoskeletal pain is often caused by undiagnosed vitamin D deficiency. Pigmented individuals appear to be at greater risk because they do not absorb ultraviolet light nearly as well as non-pigmented persons through their skin. Almost certainly the widespread use of sunglasses and sunscreens is contributing to this problem. Persons living in intensely sunlit regions are not immune to vitamin D deficiency. A group of 360 chronic back pain patients in Saudi Arabia were treated with 5,000- 10,000 units of cholecalciferol daily for three months. All reported improvement in their chronic pain 4 and none became hypercalcemic. This was reported in the prestigious journal, Spine. A serious problem in the elderly is falls. These falls often cause hip fractures, which frequently prevent the patient from returning to independent living. Specific receptors for vitamin D have been identified in muscle tissue. Vitamin D deficiency results in muscle weakness and impaired balance, which contributes to falls in the elderly. A 49% reduction in falls5 was found in a geriatric facility containing 120 elderly women when 1,200 mg of vitamin D was added to the 1,200 mg of calcium given to all women. Muscle testing disclosed significant improvement in the group getting 1,200 units of vitamin D when compared to those getting only calcium. Magnesium should always be provided in the therapy of osteoporosis, as failure to do so can make the bone structure even more fragile. The correct ratio for this repletion should be about 2 mg of calcium for every 1 mg of magnesium replaced. Blood pressure values are lower in the tropics, and blood pressure tends to rise in the winter when there is less sun exposure. Vitamin D appears to be a promising new therapy for hypertension6 that is safe, effective, and inexpensive. When the ultraviolet rays from the sun strike the skin, precholesterol reacts with the UVB wavelength of ultraviolet light to create cholecalciferol. The cholecalciferol is transported to the liver where it becomes calcidiol [25(OH)D]. The calcidiol is then transported to the kidneys where it is transformed into the steroid calcitriol, which enters the blood and regulates calcium7 in the body. Calcitriol regulates calcium metabolism in the body and has important beneficial effects in human development, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, autoimmune illnesses, 13 different cancers, and depression. Blood calcidiol levels8 should be measured to follow vitamin D status. Values of calcidiol between 35-50 ng/ ml are normal. This vitamin greatly increases the absorption of minerals from the intestine. Blood levels of calcidiol [25(OH)D] below 35 ng/ml are found in 70% of US citizens. Normal values are considered to be 35-50 ng/ml. In the northern US, no vitamin D is made during the six winter months when the sunlight is weak. Lifeguards and persons living near the equator have calcidiol values near 50 ng/ml. Toxicity from excess vitamin D during sun exposure does not occur because ultraviolet light degrades vitamin D after 20,000 units have been produced, thus leading to a steady state and no toxicity. A young white male makes 20,000 units of vitamin D within minutes of whole body exposure to the summer sun (before redness of skin appears). This is five times the amount of vitamin D considered capable of initiating toxic reactions9 by the Institute of Medicine, proving that these guidelines are set far too low. Dark-skinned individuals need 5-10 times longer in the sun to produce an equivalent amount of vitamin D depending, on the extent of their pigmentation. Avoid sunburn, which can injure the skin. Sunscreens with a protection factor of 8 block 95% of vitamin D production. With equal sun exposure, an 80-year-old produces only 50% of the Vitamin D made by an 8-yearold. Living in cities, working in factories, screening out ultraviolet light with glass windows, wearing more clothing than when farming, using sunscreens and dark glasses all contribute to the deficient vitamin D levels found today. One of the routes for ultraviolet light to be received by the body is through the eye. Ultraviolet deprivation may be responsible for the dramatic increase in cancer seen in certain parts of Africa. Dr. Albert Schweitzer noted that when he arrived in Africa, the natives did not wear sunglasses, and that he rarely saw cancer. Later natives could be seen pulling their canoes down the river wearing sunglasses and not much else. The failure to receive ultraviolet light through their eyes because of sunglasses made them vulnerable to ultraviolet light deficiency, as black-skinned persons do not absorb much ultraviolet through their skin. Dr. John Ott states that we need more ultraviolet light than we obtain from artificial light through windows. Ultraviolet light of the short wave length, germicidal ultraviolet, is mostly filtered out by the earth’s atmosphere. This fear of getting too much ultraviolet light is creating a deficiency of an essential life supporting energy.10 Dr. Ott further relates that there is probably a relationship between chronic diseases and lack of sunlight: “My studies have shown that light is a nutrient, similar to all the other nutrients we take in through food, and that we need the full spectrum range of natural sunlight. If human skin is not exposed to solar radiation (direct or scattered) for long periods of time, disturbances will occur in the physiological equilibrium of the human system. The result will be disorders of the nervous system, vitamin D deficiency, weakening of the body’s defenses, depression and an aggravation of chronic diseases.” He calls this state malillumination (lack of necessary sunlight). This develops when wavelengths are missing in various types of artificial light or are filtered from natural light passing through window glass, windshields, tinted eyeglasses, smog, and sunscreen lotions. The minerals and chemicals in the individual cells of our bodies that would normally be nourished by the missing wavelengths remain in the equivalent of darkness. In other words, energy cannot be extracted from food materials if the proper wavelengths of light are not available to help break them down chemically. Can Coral Calcium Help Patients? In the testimonial section of a book by Robert Barefoot, Death By Diet, there are documented recoveries after taking coral calcium from a golf ball-sized neck malignancy (probably a lymphoma), lung cancer, prostate cancer (four cases), leukemia, fibromyalgia, simultaneous breast and colon cancer, brain tumor, heel spurs and a painful form of multiple sclerosis with high blood lipids. Patients receiving coral calcium might be helped by at least three possible mechanisms. The first of these is alkilinization of the body. When a 1 g of coral calcium is placed in a glass of distilled water, the pH rises to 8.5- 11.5. Raising the body pH could decrease the incidence of chronic diseases, thus benefiting health. Improved oxygenation and cellular nutrition could explain this. Better tissue oxygen levels might be expected to make it more difficult for malignant cells to survive. Persons with malignancies might wish to take three capsules of coral calcium daily at bedtime to bring their saliva pH up closer to 7.4. High doses of coral calcium(three capsules, three times daily) may have an adverse effect on renal function. A patient with pancreatic cancer went into acute tubular necrosis with uremia when taking three capsules of coral calcium three times daily along with 500 mg of CoQ 10 daily. This patient’s pancreatic pain subsided in 24 hours. A second way that health benefits could appear in persons taking coral calcium would be by correcting the mineral deficits found in chronic acidotic states. Restoring bone mineral losses would strengthen bones making fractures less likely. Correcting cellular mineral deficits should improve cellular metabolism. Coral calcium contains 71 minerals. The repletion of trace minerals lacking in the standard American diet should improve health and enzyme function. At least 60% of the US population is lacking adequate stores of vitamin D. Every capsule of coral calcium contains 400 IU of vitamin D. Certainly any of the 60% of US citizens who lack vitamin D could be greatly helped by the 1,200 units of vitamin D received from a threecapsule daily dosage. Many musculoskeletal pains might melt away with this dosage of vitamin D. My suspicion is that many of the persons improving while taking coral calcium therapy are actually persons with undiagnosed vitamin D deficiency. Recently it has been learned that vitamin D is a potent antioxidant11 active in fatty tissues as well as water. Certainly this antioxidant effect could also benefit the patient taking 1,200 IU of vitamin D from coral calcium. There does not appear to be anything magical about the source of coral calcium. Coral from any part of the world should be just as effective as that found in Okinawa. Recently I did an Internet search for “coral calcium”. All the first 10 sites found were very critical of coral calcium. This criticism was primarily based on personal problems experienced by Robert Barefoot, but did not actually relate to coral calcium therapy. Any personal problems Mr. Barefoot has encountered should have nothing to do with whether coral calcium is a valuable health product or not. My impression is that the 1,200 IU dose of vitamin D in this product has helped many patients overcome a multitude of musculoskeletal problems caused by undiagnosed vitamin D deficiency.
About the Author
Dr. James A. Howenstine is a board certified specialist
in internal medicine. He is author of the book, A Physicians’s
P.O. Box 25202,
Miami, Fl. 33102-5292.
1) The Healthy Cell News. Nature’s Distriubtors, Inc., March 2003; page 3.
2) Griffin E. World Without Cancer — The story of Vitamin B17.
(Audiotape). American Media.
3) Veith R, et al. Eur J Clin Nutrition, 2001; 55(12):1091-7.
4) Plotnikoff GA and Quigley BA. “Prevalence of severe hypovitaminosis
D in patients with persistent, non-specific musculoskeletal pain.” Mayo
Clin Proc, 2003; 78:1463-1470.
5) Press Release from the Vitamin D Council. December 9, 2003; page 2.
6) J Bone Miner Res, 2003; 18:343-351.
7) Wright J. Nutrition & Healing, January 2004; 11(1).
8) Gordon G. Chelation Discussion Group Vitamin D Deficiency. Dec.
9) Vitamin D Council, 9100 San Gregorio Road, Atascadero, CA 93422;
10) Douglass WE. Into the Light. Second Opinion Publishing; 185-87.
11) Perlmutter D. “Alzheimer’s disease — A functional approach.” Townsend
Letter for Doctors & Patients, July 2002; 60.