Calcium Deficiency (Hypocalcemia) Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Calcium is used by most of your tissues and organs. So, you have to make sure that your diet contains adequate amounts of calcium. It is the most abundant mineral found in the human body. Our bones and teeth contains more than 99% of the calcium that we take in and the rest is found in the blood, muscles and fluids in the cells.
Why is Calcium Important?
Calcium is essential for healthy and strong bones. Calcium is also essential for the tissues where various neuromuscular, hormonal, enzymatic and some metabolic activities are performed by calcium.
Calcium should be digested and absorbed properly for having a healthy body. You get the calcium that you require by consuming foods rich in calcium like milk and other dairy products, seafood, green leafy vegetables, dried beans and nuts. Calcium is also found in orange juice, bread, breakfast cereals and other fortified food products. For the proper growth and formation of bones, you need enough calcium.
What is Calcium Deficiency?
Calcium deficiency also known as hypocalcemia arises when your body is deficient in calcium. When you take in inadequate amounts of calcium for long periods, your body may lack calcium. Even if you take-in enough calcium, but your body is deficient in magnesium, phosphorous and vitamin D, you may suffer from calcium deficiency. This is because these are responsible for the proper absorption of calcium by the body. Two types of calcium deficiencies are:
Dietary calcium deficiency: This type of calcium deficiency takes place when you take-in inadequate amounts of calcium. As a result, the bones store less calcium and there is thinning and weakening of bones as well as osteoporosis.
Hypocalcaemia: here there is a low level of calcium in the blood. When you take medicines for diseases like renal failure, hyperthyroidism etc, this type of calcium deficiency occurs as a side effect of these medications.
Causes of Dietary Calcium Deficiency:
Elderly people need to take-in more calcium as the body fails to absorb enough calcium as one gets older.
Deficiency of Vitamin D, phosphorous and magnesium:
These are needed for proper absorption of calcium by the body. So, consume milk and other food items that are rich in these nutrients.
Inadequate consumption of calcium:
This is one of the main causes for calcium deficiency. When your diet lacks sufficient amount of calcium, your body starts taking calcium from your bones to carry out various functions of the body. If you do not replace this lost calcium, it may lead to weak bones.
With menopause, a decrease in the levels of estrogen takes place. Estrogen is beneficial for maintaining the levels of calcium on the bones.
Proper absorption of calcium is important for the functions of the body. Your body fails to absorb sufficient calcium under certain conditions. These are as follows:
- Consuming excess of fat, proteins and sugar with calcium.
- Deficiency of vitamin D and intake of too much of magnesium and phosphorous.
- Pylic acid found in large amounts unleavened grains.
- Absence of acids for proper absorption of calcium.
- Caffeine, diuretics, fiber oxalates, fatty acids, fluoride, mylanta and thyroxin.
Causes of Hypocalcaemia:
The parathyroid glands ensure proper storage of calcium and phosphorous by the bones. Hypoparathyroidism leads to low levels of parathyroid hormones in the body and thus a deficiency in calcium.
Medications like diuretics and chemotherapy can lead to calcium deficiency. Breast and prostate cancers as well as pancreatis can also lead to calcium deficiency.
Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency:
Dry skin and brittle nails:
With low levels of calcium, your skin becomes dry and the nails become weak and brittle.
Frequent fractures and bone breakage:
It is calcium that helps in making your bone stronger. When there is deficiency of calcium, your bones will become weaker, and as a result, you will suffer from fractures and breakage.
People who lack calcium in their diet suffer from insomnia. Even if they fall off to sleep, they will not get a deep sleep.
Late puberty and PMS symptoms:
Late puberty in adolescent girls is a sign of calcium deficiency. Cramping and a change in menstrual flow are other possible symptoms.
This is the first symptom of calcium deficiency. When you move about, you suffer from muscle aches in the thighs, underarms and arms. Usually these cramps occur at night.
Calcium is an important component of our teeth and when you lack calcium, you will suffer from tooth problems. Your teeth will turn yellow and you will also suffer from tooth decay. In children it can lead to delay in the formation of tooth.
Calcium Deficiency Diseases:
Deficiency in calcium can lead to the following ailments:
Cancer: Calcium deficiency can cause colon and rectum cancer.
Cardiovascular diseases: Enough calcium in the body protects you from cardiovascular diseases and strokes.
High blood pressure: When your diet contains adequate amounts of calcium you are less at the risk of developing high blood pressure.
Osteoporosis: This is a condition in which you lose minerals faster than you can replace them. As a result your bone becomes fragile, porous and brittle.
Treatment of Calcium Deficiency:
If you find it impossible to get enough calcium from your diet, then you can take calcium supplements. You get them in liquid, tablet and chewable forms. These are good for treating hypocalcaemia as well. When you take these supplements, consult your doctor and take them according to his advice. This way you can prevent any adverse affects.
If calcium deficiency is in its initial stage, then you can correct it by taking diet that is rich in calcium. Make sure that you consume diet rich in Vitamin D also, which increases the calcium absorption by the body. However, take care to consume food that are low in fat or those which do not contain any fat.
If diet changes and taking calcium supplements are not enough to give you the desired results, then you have to take calcium injections. Your physician will give you regular calcium injections so that your body does not lack calcium.