Calcium deficiency occurs when the body lacks sufficient amounts of the mineral to maintain a healthy state. There are two types of calcium deficiency. Dietary Calcium Deficiency occurs when a person is not taking in the correct amount of calcium from food sources and Hypocalcaemia is a condition in which calcium levels are low in the blood from medications or other diseases.
Calcium has many functions in the body: maintaining bone and teeth structure, muscle movement, moving blood throughout the body and nerve function. Not meeting the daily recommended levels of calcium can lead to serious health issues. The most common concern is weakening of the bones and teeth which can lead to osteoporosis. Other health issues such as hypertension, irregular heart beat and dementia occur in more dangerous levels of deficiency.
Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become weaker and are more likely to fracture. It is caused by lack of calcium in the body needed to replace already utilized calcium. More than half of women post-menopause suffer from a bone fracture due to osteoporosis. Unfortunately, there are very few symptoms of osteoporosis. People normally are not diagnosed with the disease until they are being treated for a fracture. Osteoporosis is normally treated through medications called bisphosphonates which help slow the process of bone break down. Replacing estrogen hormone levels in women can also be used for treatment but is less common due to the increased risk for heart attack.
To prevent Osteoporosis and other diseases generated from lack of calcium, the Recommended Dietary Allowance is 1,000 milligrams for adult men and women each day. This can come from food sources or supplements. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, dark leafy green vegetables, soybeans and any product enriched with calcium such as some cereals and orange juice. If these foods do not sound appealing, calcium supplements can be purchased at any local drugstore. However, the best way to take in quality calcium is through natural foods.
It is also important to consume enough Vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium. Without enough Vitamin D, a person is at a greater risk for hypocalcaemia. Hypocalcaemia is a condition where calcium levels in the blood are below normal. Symptoms of hypocalcaemia do not occur right away; normally the disease has already festered. Muscle twitches, irregular heartbeat, and a tingling sensation in the hands and feet are signs to look for. Hypocalcaemia can be treated through medication that restores calcium levels in the blood. Sometimes the disease is linked to another issue and that problem will need to be treated as well.
Calcium toxicity is a rare condition because the large intestines help regulate the amount of calcium absorbed into the blood stream. It can occur when a person consumes more than 2500 milligrams of calcium per day or if excessive calcium and Vitamin D are taken together. Symptoms of calcium toxicity include headaches, kidney stones, confusion, constipation and frequent urination. Toxicity can be treated by stopping the supply of calcium and slowly introducing to the body in small amounts. Also, treating the side effects such as constipation and headaches occurs. Always check with a medical provider before starting a calcium supplement to make sure appropriate levels are taken in and to avoid calcium toxicity.