Calcium deficiency is a common condition and it is a very dangerous condition. Since our body uses calcium for bone and teeth building, lack of calcium deficiency can provoke diverse health issues like tingling in the hands and feet, muscle aches, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, and even memory loss. Now, we’ll talk about calcium deficiency and its common symptoms.
Calcium Deficiency (Hypocalcemia)
Calcium deficiency or hypocalcemia is when calcium levels in the blood are excessively low.
Symptoms of hypocalcemia can be mild or severe and life-threatening. This depends on the severity of calcium deficiency. This condition can be acute or chronic.
Calcium is vital for the bones, heart, muscles, and nervous system and is considered the most abundant mineral in your body. Actually, every cell in the body requires calcium! It’s important to understand that in most cases, blood calcium levels decrease due to non-dietary causes, and rarely due to poor diet.
Calcium Blood Test
A calcium blood test measures your blood calcium levels. Normally, the test estimates your total serum calcium that includes:
- Calcium complexed with phosphate and citrate (about 10%)
- Calcium bound to proteins, mainly albumin (about 40 – 45%)
- Ionized calcium, also known as free or active calcium (about 45 – 50%)
You don’t need to prepare for this test or fast before it. A healthcare specialist will collect a blood sample from your vein or may order an ionized calcium test.
Ionized calcium is the body’s active form of calcium and its levels are often estimated based on total blood calcium and albumin levels. The ionized calcium test is far more accurate, but it needs special equipment, which is expensive.
Normal blood calcium results in adults are around 8.5 to 10.5 mg/dL. Hypocalcemia is when total blood calcium is under 8.5 mg/dL. If calcium blood levels drop under 7 mg/dL, this means that hypocalcemia is already severe.
8 Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency
It’s important to recognize calcium deficiency in time since this condition can be life-threatening if left untreated. If you suspect any of these symptoms you need to contact your health care provider immediately. Your doctor will offer tests to find out the underlying causes.
Arrhythmia is a typical symptom of calcium deficiency and can be very dangerous. Yes, calcium deficiency is able to disrupt the heart, since the heart is a muscular organ. When heart cells don’t gain enough calcium, they stop working properly. This can result in arrhythmia, which causes spasms of the heart muscle.
2. Tingling and Numbness
Another common sign of calcium deficiency is tingling in the feet and hands. Severe hypocalcemia can also lead to numbness. This is due to the fact that every nerve cell in your body needs calcium and when your calcium drops too low, they stop registering sensations normally and sending off signals.
3. Tooth Decay and Gingivitis
It’s not a secret that calcium is a building material of your teeth. Food, drinks, and mouth bacteria can lead to a mineral loss but normal calcium levels prevent this process. Moreover, various studies suggest that lack of calcium is one of the causes of early gingivitis.
4. Skin Dryness
Skin dryness might actually be a symptom of calcium deficiency. Yes, calcium is also responsible for maintaining skin health. It decreases skin pH and protects the skin barrier, which prevents dehydration. When calcium blood levels fall too low, the skin can no longer maintain water and becomes dry.
5. Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps and spasms often occur due to calcium deficiency. This mineral helps your muscles contract and relax properly. And with the lack of calcium, they can no longer maintain their normal tone, which results in aches, cramps, spasms, and muscle weakness.
6. Memory Loss and Disorientation
Calcium deficiency often manifests itself with confusion, disorientation, and memory loss. As mentioned above, nerve cells depend on calcium. Actually, brain cells also require calcium. That’s why hypocalcemia can significantly impair cognitive function.
7. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is very common among women of reproductive age and can be caused by various factors including calcium deficiency. According to many studies, low levels of vitamin D and calcium can lead to the symptoms of PMS. Therefore, taking vitamin D and calcium supplements can decrease or even eliminate the symptoms of PMS.
8. Bone Loss
Osteoporosis is a dangerous disorder that occurs as a result of severe calcium deficiency. When calcium levels in the blood drop, your body has to take it from your bones to compensate. And with long-term hypocalcemia, you can develop osteoporosis, which causes bone loss if left ignored.
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