What Happens When You Have a Calcium Deficiency?
Calcium deficiency, which is clinically known as hypocalcemia is a condition in which the calcium intake is lower than the amount of calcium required by the body. Calcium is ingested through the food we eat. Calcium deficiency is a common condition with some estimates stating that more than 3 billion people in the world are suffering from this condition.
Why Does the Body Need Calcium?
Calcium plays a vital role in the body. Some major functions of calcium are:
Bone Development: Calcium is an essential component of bone development and maintenance. Children require a large amount of calcium during their growing period.
Contraction of Muscles: Calcium plays a major role in the contraction of muscles.
Functions of the Cardiovascular system: Calcium helps in the formation of blood clots and also plays a direct role in the functioning of the heart muscle.
There are various studies which link calcium to other important functions including lowering blood pressure and maintaining dental health.
How Much Calcium Do I Need?
The amount of calcium you need depends on your age. Calcium intake has to be fulfilled by eating calcium rich-food items under normal circumstances.Age GroupDaily Calcium Intake0-6 Months200 mg7-12 Months260 mg1-3 Years700 mg4-8 Years1000 mg9-18 Years1300 mg19-50 Years1000 mg51-70 YearsMales: 1000 mg, Females: 1200mg71+1200 mg
In certain conditions, such as pregnancy, the doctors would advise you to alter your calcium intake.
What are the Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency?
Short term calcium deficiency may not show any symptoms at all but long term can affect the body severely. The following are symptoms of calcium deficiency:
Muscle problems such as soreness, pain and cramps are some of the first signs of calcium deficiency. These issues can occur in any part of the body but are mostly found in the arms and legs.
These muscle problems stay for long periods and cause significant discomfort.
Deteriorating Dental Health
Calcium deficiency can cause tooth decay. Image Credits: Wikimedia commons
Calcium along with other nutrients plays a major role in the formation of teeth and maintaining overall dental health. Calcium deficiency can result in the following dental conditions:
Lack of Energy and Tiredness
Hypocalcemia causes tiredness and fatigue. In some cases, it can also cause dizziness.
The lack of energy and feeling tired all the time are symptoms which can be identified easily.
Fatigue and tiredness are common symptoms of hypocalcemia. Image Credits: Pixabay
Calcium deficiency has been linked to various skin conditions. They usually develop only after there is a long term deficiency. Common conditions include:
Depression and Insomnia
Various studies have linked calcium deficiency to cause insomnia and contribute to depression. Studies have shown that returning to optimal calcium levels can help treat these conditions.
Affecting the Premenstrual Syndrome
In patients with hypocalcemia, an increase in the pain level of the P.M.S is observed. There are studies which link calcium and vitamin D deficiency to a significant increase in the pain levels.
What are the Causes of Calcium Deficiency?
The conditions which can cause hypocalcemia are:
Improper calcium intake
Intolerance towards calcium
The majority of cases are caused by improper calcium intake.
What are the Risk Factors of Calcium Deficiency?
Long term calcium deficiency makes bones more susceptible to fractures. Image Credits: Wikimedia commons
In addition to the above-mentioned symptoms, long term calcium deficiency can also lead to the following conditions:
Chronic joint pain
Susceptibility to fractures
Treatment and Prevention
The treatment of calcium deficiency focusses on ingesting calcium-rich food items so that adequate amounts of calcium can be absorbed.
In case you are suffering from severe deficiency, calcium supplements are available. Please ensure that you only take supplements after consulting a doctor and do not do self-medication. Some common calcium supplements include:
The prevention of calcium deficiency can be done by eating food items with a high calcium content. The following food items are rich in calcium:
Oranges are rich in calcium. Image Credits: Wikimedia commons
Excess calcium is also not good for the body. So ensure that your intake is optimum.
Calcium deficiency can be very harmful to the body. It can cause discomfort as well as lead to severe complications. If you notice symptoms of hypocalcemia then you should consult a doctor.
Calcium levels can be replenished in the body by maintaining a proper diet and in severe cases, by using supplements. It is a condition which should be addressed and should not be ignored.