Rheo Blair on Calcium and the "Phosphorus Jitters"

A recent article about Rheo Blair caught my eye and has deservedly received much attention around the web: John Catanzaro's "The Protein Pioneer: Lessons from a Golden Age Nutritional Guru" published on the popular Bodybuilding.com. It's interesting on several levels not the least of which is the fact that it's a well written piece by a graduate of Bastyr University,  a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine who has an apparent interest in protein supplementation. It is surely a welcome addition to the fairly limited online information about Rheo Blair and his ideas.

The one idea he singles out for "caution" concerns Rheo's promotion of calcium supplementation. And indeed calcium supplementation has been promoted far and wide as long as most of us can remember but quite recently has been found to be a cause for concern with cardiac health. As he states, magnesium, not calcium, is what most us should be supplementing. Moreover, balance of all minerals is important to achieve and maintain. Because we are all biologically unique, some of us need "more of this" or "less of that" to achieve the unique balance that works for us in our individual cases. That is far easier said than done and a matter far beyond the scope of a brief blog post. My only purpose here in this post is to offer some background on why Rheo was gung-ho on calcium.

"Health Gurus" have been known to get their start because of their own early health challenges in life, finding something that works for them and then milking or promoting it as "the" answer to the ills of mankind. My favorite example of this is Dr. Richard Schulze, someone for whom I have the utmost respect and, while I don't agree with all of his teachings, he has taught me a lot and I use certain of his products regularly. Dr. Schulze got his start because of severe health issues early on in his life.

So it was with Rheo Blair. Of course Rheo promoted many things among them protein, calcium, amino acids, etc. He once told me that if he had to sacrifice everything else and choose just one thing he could keep and use, it would be his amino acids; not his protein, his amino acids. But calcium was indeed central to his ideas and this interest began early in his life with an inability to relax.

A physician gave the teenage Rheo (then, Irvin Johnson) a calcium injection and the positive result on his ability to relax was so swift and so dramatic that he was forever sold on this mineral. Along with his early experience with raw milk, the two helped form the foundations of his ideas. The ability to relax and remain in a constant state of relaxations was absolutely central to his theories in general and about maximizing blood circulation in particiular, for the distribution, all over the body, of the hundreds of supplement pills and countless grams of protein he prescribed to his students. He prescribed much extra sleep to his clients which also required the ability to relax.  His personal experience had taught him that high-levels of calcium supplementation was required to relax. And so it became part of his regimen. And indeed there is science behind a certain calcium to phosphorus ratio for optimum health. But again, how each of us, as biologically unique individuals, achieves this ratio is another question and it involves more than taking calcium.

In the 1960's he wrote (his emphasis in the original): "The PHOSPHORUS JITTERS is my own unique phrase to describe the overwrought, over-stimulated condition that MANY HAVE BUT DO NOT REALIZE. The PHOSPHORUS JITTERS are characterized by a constant restlessness, anxiety, sleeplessness, and a general inability to relax regardless of how hard you try." This statement of his is very revealing of Rheo Blair the man and why he advocated calcium. His phrase "many have but do not realize" is worthy of study for anyone seeking to understand Rheo Blair and his ways.

Incidentally, his favorite form of calicum was one he never sold under his own label (to my knowledge, and why not, I do not know) but did offer under the manufacturer's label when it was available, and that was Calcium Orotate. This was taken off the market by the U.S. government shortly before I began my stay with Rheo in 1978. He had one bottle of it left in his inventory at the time as well as a bottle of magnesium orotate and gave them both to me. So we do know he was interested in some sort of Calcium-Magnesium balance.  But between the two it was calcium where his real focus lay. Calcium orotate was indeed a very relaxing form of calcium and I missed it when I used up that one bottle. It is again available in this country and I do use it from time to time when I supplement calcium, which these days is not very often.

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Information found on Rheo H. Blair: The Book is meant for educational and informational purposes only, and to motivate you to make your own health care and dietary decisions based upon your own research and in partnership with your health care provider. It should not be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis or courses of treatment.