Calcium Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factor, Diagnosis
The lack of calcium in our body can cause many changes in the body's regular functioning. Muscle twitching, lack of coordination due to neural loss, and fatigue are some common symptoms that should not be ignored.
- Calcium Deficiency leads to weakness in the body
- Calcium is important in the development of the fetus
- It is important to consume a calcium-rich diet
A balanced diet is an important part of our schedule to keep us healthy. While macronutrients such as carbs, proteins, and fats cover the larger portions of it, micronutrients are also vital. Most of the time, these are not as focused on when we talk about nourishment. Essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and calcium, along with various vitamins, are needed by the body for healthy development. In this article, we will be looking into Calcium deficiency symptoms, causes, and other topics related to it.
Importance of Calcium
Calcium, like any other mineral, proves to be very beneficial for many reasons, as stated below:
- Helps in bone growth and development.
- Regulates blood clotting, along with vitamin K.
- Keeps the teeth strong and healthy.
- Helps in muscle contraction and expansion, along with the ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
- Improves nerve functioning.
- Helps carry the proteins for the muscle work.
- Lowering blood pressure in all cases, especially in pregnant women.
- Improving cholesterol levels in our body.
- Acts as a co-factor for many enzymes.
- Improves blood circulation.
- Helps in the proper development of the fetus.
The deficiency or lack of calcium in the body is known as hypocalcemia. When the body has low levels of calcium, many metabolic reactions in the body are disrupted. The actions of the parathyroid hormone are closely linked to the receding stages of calcium. Vitamin D lack in the food can be linked to this deficiency. This is because calcium absorption is based on Vitamin D and UV exposure.
Other calcium-related disorders are as below:
- Osteoporosis is the loss of calcium in the bones and can cause fractures, thus leading to reduced mobility. Estrogen decrease can also aid in reduced bone density.
- Hyperparathyroidism is another such disorder that is heavily dependent on the calcium levels in the body. This can also lead to renal failure and heart problems.
- Electrolyte imbalance can cause implications for the nervous system. This is hugely responsible for all kinds of neurological controlling of the body, based on calcium levels.
- Excess calcium can cause constipation and an increase in kidney stones. This is mostly due to the large uncontrolled consumption of dietary supplements.
Calcium Deficiency Causes and Triggers
The causes of hypocalcemia make for easy diagnosis and prevention care. Some of the risk factors for Calcium Deficiency are as follows:
- Receding age and declining health.
- Decrease in estrogen production in older, menopausal women.
- Medicines like Bisphosphonates, Diuretics, Antacids, and Glucocorticoids can interfere with the absorption of calcium levels in the body.
- Lactose intolerance, thus shutting off the main natural source of calcium, milk.
- Eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia.
- Overconsumption of magnesium can hinder calcium absorption.
- Mercury, lead, and other harmful pollutant exposure.
- Kidney failure.
- Phosphate deficiency is closely interlinked with calcium.
- Lack of parathyroid hormone.
- Cancers and chemotherapy.
- Poor calcium intake as per sedentary lifestyle.
- Certain genetic factors.
Calcium Disorders Symptoms and Signs
The lack of calcium symptoms can vary among people depending on their body type, gender, and age. In some cases, the hypocalcemic condition hardly gives any symptoms. But most of it is covered in the given below list of signs:
- Irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure: Cardiovascular system is vastly interconnected to the dependency of calcium on its working.
- Tingling and numbness in the limbs. It can be painful and uncomfortable as well.
- Fatigue and tiredness can ultimately lead to physical burnout.
- Muscle cramps and aches.
- Neural imbalance can cause a lack of mental control, hallucinations, and more.
- Osteopenia: Also translates to low bone density, which causes brittle and weak bones (osteoporosis)
- Impaired muscle memory.
- Changes in the heart activity can be seen in the ECG, aka electrocardiogram.
- Weakness in the muscles.
- Seizures due to the lack of calcium for the neurotransmitters. Mostly seen in severe cases of hypocalcemia.
- Dry skin and brittle nails: Protein, vitamins, and Calcium Deficiency show this symptom.
- pH level fluctuations affect the digestive system as well. Disrupting the process of digestion can lead to malnutrition.
- Hypertension: Since the blood pressure is high and the vessels of the body work based on regularly fluctuating calcium levels, any changes can cause vascular symptoms.
- In women, it can lead to PMS, aka pre-menstrual syndrome. This can be pretty painful, emotionally distressing, and uncomfortable. Vitamin D and calcium supplements have helped in these cases.
- The muscle working includes the walls of the heart used to pump blood. Low calcium symptoms can thus mean heart irregularities.
- Coarse hair, alopecia (unexplained falling of hair causing patches of baldness), and psoriasis are other Calcium deficiency symptoms on the skin.
- Water retention during the menstrual cycle.
- Just like the bones, teeth problems are plenty. Tooth decay, weak roots, and bleeding in the gums are quite common.
- Calcium is supposedly very important for mood swings and anti-depression. Thus the lack of this mineral will likely lead to depression and other mental disorders.
Calcium Deficiency Prevention and Care
One of the best ways to help with Calcium deficiency symptoms is by including the said nutrient in your daily diet. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium in adults above 19 is about 1000-1300 milligrams. For the overall growth and development of your body, you need to consume the required amount of calcium.
Here is a list of food that can be taken to help with hypocalcemia:
- Dairy products include milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt.
- Beans and legumes.
- Green leafy vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and spinach.
- Soy products (soy milk, soy chunks, soybeans)
- Dried nuts and seeds.
- Seawater fish like sardines and salmon.
- Wheat bread.
- Calcium-rich fruits like apricots, kiwis, oranges, and berries.
- Prickly pears.
- Cereals and millets.
- Eggs and mushrooms.
Improving your vitamin D levels can aid in hypocalcemic conditions. This can be done by increased sun exposure and consumption of eggs and citrus fruits. Other lifestyle changes or restrictions one can apply are having a balanced diet, regular physical exercise, and decreasing smoking and alcohol consumption daily. After a doctor's consultation, one can also add calcium supplements to their daily diet as multivitamins.
Calcium Deficiency Diagnosis and Findings
Hypocalcemia is indeed seen as the side effect of another major disease and thus can mostly be temporary. Calcium Blood tests where the calcium concentration is taken into accord can be of help. If it is less than 8.8 mg/dL, you are likely to portray Calcium deficiency symptoms.  Routine checkups can give you the same information. Other blood tests prescribed by your doctor can include the levels of parathyroid hormone and vitamin D in the body. EKG, which measures your heart beating functionality, is also asked in more severe cases.
Since the complication of Calcium Deficiency includes rickets and osteopenia, bone imaging and X-rays can also be done. This is mostly to see the damage level due to the same. The physical examination takes the top tier level of learning about the patient. Any twitching, spasms, occasional mental fog, and low care on hair, skin, and nails is the starting step of the diagnosis. For pregnant women, the general physician will likely update on all the tests needed to ensure that the baby's growth isn't disrupted.Additional Read: Vitamin Deficiency Tests
Calcium Deficiency Treatment and Cure
In most cases, the biggest start for treatment will be to regain control of malnutrition. The lack of nutrition also means a lack of all kinds of nutrients and not only calcium. Consuming calcium-rich fruits is beneficial. Oral calcium tablets are given to treat hypocalcemia. Vitamin D supplements are also provided so calcium absorption can happen smoothly. Synthetic parathyroid hormone tablets are also prescribed since being low in PTH can lead to Calcium Deficiency.
In severe cases, an IV of calcium gluconate is provided after the patient's admission. Variations of a mixture of calcium compound and glucose are given instead of calcium gluconate. It is a treatable condition and can be prevented by keeping yourself healthy. Regular checkups only help in knowing if you are hypocalcemic and not necessarily getting severe symptoms like a cardiac failure.
Not all of the above lack of calcium symptoms may apply to you, but if muscle spasms and irregularities in the rhythm of the heart are seen, it would be wise to take a medical professional's take on the same. Also, do not forget to take your daily supplements, as they can reduce the complexities of Calcium Deficiency.
Dietary considerations, health conditions, or medical procedures can all contribute to a calcium deficiency. The best strategy is to increase the calcium intake in the diet. A doctor might suggest supplements, either as oral tablets or injections. The majority of patients who undergo treatment see a reduction in symptoms within a few weeks.
For further queries about calcium deficiency or to book an online doctor consultation, visit Bajaj Finserv Health.
Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.
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