Cystitis, Interstitial Cystitis, Overactive Bladder, Urinary Incontinence

Why Calcium and Magnesium Balance Is Important For Bladder Health

I often use a hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) test as a cheap way of getting an idea of my client’s main mineral levels in the body.

One pattern that I often see is a high calcium level, along with lowered magnesium (as well as potassium and boron). I personally also had this pattern.

Not everyone with this pattern has bladder issues, but I do believe that high calcium levels together with lowered magnesium might contribute to them.






The Roles of Calcium and Magnesium in the Body

Both minerals have numerous functions in the body.

Calcium is the main constituent of bone and as such is required for healthy bone and teeth. It plays a role in nerve transmission, muscle contraction, blood clotting and cell signalling.

Magnesium is needed for many enzyme systems in the body (enzymes are proteins that induce chemical reactions in the body). Moreover, it plays a role in energy production, nerve and muscle function, bone formation, cardiovascular function and calcium metabolism.

Both minerals work together, and one could say they are opponents. Whilst calcium is involved in the transmission of nerve signals, magnesium can reduce nerve excitatory activity.

With regards to muscles, calcium contracts muscles when it enters muscle cells and magnesium relaxes muscles by inhibiting calcium release.

Overall, magnesium is important for calcium metabolism as it has a role in transporting and blocking it when needed.

How Calcium and Magnesium Balance relate to the Bladder

There are several bladder problems that could be affected by calcium and magnesium.

Urgency, frequency and spasms can of course be caused by irritation and inflammation due to infections or irritants. But too much calcium body can also contribute to muscles contracting more than they should, potentially leading to the bladder muscle contracting more than it should.

Hyper-excitability of nerves in the bladder can also play a role in pain and urgency, and again calcium could increase nerve excitability.

Magnesium in a way would be the antidote, helping to relax muscles and blocking calcium from constantly going in as well as reducing nerve activity.

But this is not all. Interestingly, excess calcium can also play a role in urinary tract infections (UTIs). One study found that calcium supplements increased the risk of UTIs by increasing bacteria sticking to the bladder wall [1].

Although seemingly unrelated to the bladder, it has also been shown that excess calcium makes it easier for the dangerous bug Clostridium difficile to become active [2] and that it can cause a switch from acute to chronic lung infections with pneumonia [3]. I don’t see why this couldn’t be the case for other pathogens like those often found in UTIs.

Additionally, calcium supplements could also contribute to kidney stones [4] and excess calcium could contribute to calcification in organs like the kidneys [5].

Where does the excess Calcium come from?

There are probably several factors at play in the case of excess calcium.

First of all, the Western diet is fairly high in calcium because of high dairy consumption. Calcium is generally not that hard to get from the diet as it can be found in many foods.

On the other hand, magnesium is believed to be quite deficient in foods nowadays and not easy to get unless you’re consuming lots and lots of leafy greens. Remember that magnesium is very important for proper calcium metabolism.

Next is low amounts of other nutrients needed for calcium metabolism, namely vitamin K (those leafy greens again) and boron (very deficient in soils).

And lastly, there is the vitamin D and cod liver oil craze. Of course, vitamin D is very important but we shouldn’t forget that it is a hormone mostly produced from sunlight. One of the main jobs of vitamin D is to stimulate calcium absorption. Too much of this does not seem to be a good thing.

I personally had high calcium levels after consuming cod liver oil for a year or so and now I understand better why all those promised health promoting effects did not happen for me – excess calcium!

And indeed, several studies have shown that too much calcium and oral vitamin D (especially together) are not a good idea [4, 5].

It should be noted that vegetables of the nightshade family have vitamin D-like compounds and as such could also increase calcium absorption (this could potentially be why they are associated with arthritis).

Calcium in the wrong places is not a good thing and contributes to chronic disease. Just think of lime scale in your washing machine and you get the picture…

How to Balance Calcium

There are basically three steps to this:

  1. Reduce high calcium intake from dairy
  2. Don’t take vitamin D supplements, cod liver oil and reduce nightshades in the diet. Get your vitamin D from the sun!
  3. Increase intake of nutrients needed for calcium metabolism: magnesium, vitamin K and boron.

Want to find out what your calcium and magnesium levels are and work on mineral balance? Why not work with me on a mineral balancing program. Visit www.realfoodrealhealth.co.uk to find out more.

Do you think calcium could be an issue for you? Has magnesium helped you feel better? Let me know in the comments!




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Sources

  1. Apicella LL, Sobota AE. Increased risk of urinary tract infection associated with the use of calcium supplements. Urol Res. 1990;18(3):213-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2204174
  2. Kochan, T. et al Intestinal calcium and bile salts facilitate germination of Clostridium difficile spores PLOS Pathogens 13(9): e1006605 http://journals.plos.org/plospathogens/article?id=10.1371/journal.ppat.1006443
  3. Science News Calcium induces chronic lung infections October 24, 2016 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161024131112.htm
  4. Bolland MJ, Grey A, Reid IR. Calcium supplements and cardiovascular risk: 5 years on. Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety. 2013;4(5):199-210. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4125316/
  5. N.S Kerr; Hypercalcemia and metastatic calcification, Cardiovascular Research, Volume 36, Issue 3, 1 December 1997, Pages 293–297 https://academic.oup.com/cardiovascres/article/36/3/293/298591#89197463

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