Reduced amounts of calcium in your blood is a condition called hypocalcemia, while a reduced intake via food, bad calcium absorption, excessive extraction of calcium or a combination of everything mentioned can cause a deficiency of this extremely important mineral. A short term lack of calcium doesn’t cause any significant symptoms, since levels of calcium in our bodies are strictly controlled. More precisely, while your body is lacking calcium, mechanisms will engage which will start a process of de-mineralization of bones which basically extracts calcium out of there so that the level is satisfied. Also, excessive extraction through urine engages as well.
Most common calcium deficiency symptoms are cramps and tingling in fingers, convulsions, lethargy, bad appetite, abnormal heart pulse, difficulties breathing, changes in behavior (depression, dementing). A long term hypocalcemia can cause swelling of the brain and permanent heart damage.
Insufficient intake of calcium primarily affects bones and muscles, causing tetany, which is a condition characterized by random muscle cramps which can’t be relaxed, especially muscles of legs and arms. Pain in muscles and parasthesia are common signs of tetany. Long term hypocalcemia can cause osteoporosis. Risk from breaking your bones is also significantly improved, especially with elderly people. Some other, less known symptoms are related to development of intestine cancer and obesity and can even be fatal.
Causes of calcium deficiency
Lactose intolerance causes symptoms like bloating and diarrhea which are more apparent in case the patient consumes more of it. This is a sugar which is naturally found in milk and persons who are allergic or intolerant against lactose usually develop problems related to calcium deficiency, since milk is one of the most important calcium sources. This allergy is not common, but definitely represents a risk of developing a calcium-deficiency related condition. Menopause also causes loss of bone marrow due to decreased production of estrogen, which usually increases the resorb factor of calcium out of the bones.
Vegetarians can miss calcium if they consume more vegetables with a higher percentage of oxalates, but the risk is highest in case you aren’t consuming dairy products. Women who were diagnosed with anorexia are usually diagnosed with amenorrhea, so a special risk group is considered to be female athletes and military women, where there is a risk of lower density and breaking of bones, along with irregularities in the menstrual cycle. Increased need for calcium is also obvious in case your diet contains more fat which deteriorate the function of your kidneys and liver.
How much calcium do you need? Well, according to some researches, an average daily requirement of adult persons for calcium is determined to be around 800-1300 milligrams. It highly depends on the age group and condition in which the person is found. The richest sources of calcium are milk and dairy products along with sardines, especially if you eat them with bones. Soy, soy flour, red paprika and clams are also rich with calcium, along with many other health benefits so if you’re experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms, make sure to do something about it in time!