Diseases

Calcium Deficiency – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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Calcium is one of the most important minerals that the body needs to have. If the body is only insufficiently supplied with calcium, deficiency symptoms occur, the so-called calcium deficiency . For example, a person weighing 60 kilograms consists of almost 1.1 kilograms of calcium, with 99 percent of the calcium being in the bones and teeth.

What is calcium deficiency?

An adult needs about 800 milligrams of calcium per day; a full glass of milk already covers this need. However, some people, such as pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, have an increased need for calcium. It is therefore particularly important to consume sufficient calcium, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Not only pregnant women, however, but also children should be adequately supplied with calcium, because they can quickly develop a deficiency. Older women should also ensure that they have an adequate supply of calcium, as they are at particularly high risk of developing osteoporosis .

But what role does calcium play in the human body? This is particularly important for the skeletal system and teeth, but it also plays a crucial role in the functioning of numerous other organs. For example, it ensures a low cholesterol level and calcium is also of crucial importance for the defense against inflammation and allergies . Calcium is also responsible for blood clotting and heart activity.

causes

Calcium deficiency is usually caused by an inadequate or unbalanced diet. A lack of vitamin D can also cause a lack of calcium. Calcium deficiency has been observed in some people even when using softened water.

However, a temporary calcium deficiency can also be caused by what is known as hyperventilation , i.e. a breathing disorder. In most cases, this is psychological. In addition, certain diseases of the kidneys or thyroid gland can cause a calcium deficiency. Even some medications can lead to a calcium deficiency – many diuretics are particularly worth mentioning here.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

In the early stages, calcium deficiency is usually not associated with symptoms that are recognizable to the patient. If the incorrect supply is not remedied, the affected person often notices tingling (pins and needles) in the limbs or at the corners of the mouth. In the next phase, muscle cramps usually appear , and the muscles also react hypersensitively when the doctor examines them with the reflex hammer.

The typical symptoms also include disorders that manifest themselves in the skin, hair and nails. Nails often become brittle and split, hair begins to fall out, and eczema forms on the skin . The risk of fractures also increases over time.

Osteoporosis that is already present gets worse and progresses rapidly. Many patients also develop cardiovascular problems such as cardiac arrhythmia or low blood pressure. In severe cases, the heart becomes weak and the heartbeat slows down.

A typical sign of advanced calcium deficiency is what is known as tetany, which is accompanied by severe cramps in the hands and feet. The hands often bend into the so-called “pawed position”, while the toes form a pointed foot and point to the ground even when sitting. Psychological symptoms that regularly occur with calcium deficiency are diffuse anxiety and depression .

A lack of calcium is first reflected in bones and teeth. A disease that is particularly common due to calcium deficiency is osteoporosis, the loss of bone . The teeth also become significantly less resistant and, in the worst case, can even fall out. Periodontosis , namely the receding gums, is primarily triggered by a lack of calcium.

Severe cramps are another symptom that can appear as the calcium deficiency progresses.

On the other hand, one should not supply one’s body with too much calcium. An overdose can lead to nausea and vomiting as well as kidney stones , muscle weakness and fatigue . Even depression can result from an overdose of calcium.

complications

Untreated calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis. It is a skeletal disease. The bone structure is impaired and bone density decreases. There is an increased risk of suffering a bone fracture. Fractures are particularly common in the femur, humerus, or spokes.

Fractures also occur regularly in the wrists of those affected. In addition, there is a loss of height due to vertebral collapse. This is expressed by a stooped posture of the affected person. Calcium intake can reduce osteoporosis. However, not all symptoms of prolonged calcium deficiency can be reversed.

Those affected must not lift heavy loads and should seek help for such activities. Rickets can be another disorder caused by calcium deficiency. It is an impairment of the mineralization of the growing bone. Calcium also plays an important role in muscle activity.

If there is a calcium deficiency, it can lead to increased muscle cramps. Long-term calcium deficiency can also lead to heart problems. The heart weakens, contraction is restricted and the blood circulation in the body is disturbed. In this case, the person concerned must be treated as an inpatient in the hospital.

When should you go to the doctor?

Anyone who thinks they are suffering from a calcium deficiency should have a medical examination before taking calcium supplements. The doctor can then confirm whether an increased calcium intake is necessary at all. With the help of blood or urine tests, it is possible for the doctor to confirm a calcium deficiency, and an ECG (electrocardiogram) shows typical changes in the event of a deficiency. In addition, the doctor can determine the causes behind the deficiency.

When treating yourself with calcium-containing food supplements or medication, it should be noted that too much calcium can also damage the body. An excess of calcium leads to cardiac arrhythmia, listlessness, depression, gastrointestinal problems and muscle weakness. It should also be clarified with a doctor which calcium preparations are recommended.

There are many over-the-counter products, but not all of them are of high quality. In addition, some preparations are often combinations of different vitamins and minerals, the components of which often neutralize or hinder each other. In case of doubt, a doctor can therefore make a recommendation for a specific calcium product.

Treatment & Therapy

In the case of a calcium deficiency, it is usually sufficient to consistently change your diet. In addition to dairy products, nuts are also particularly recommended for calcium deficiency. However, there is also sufficient calcium in many types of vegetables and also in wholemeal bread.

Special calcium preparations, which are available in all pharmacies and health food stores, also help. To treat or prevent osteoporosis , you should take around 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily in the form of tablets or powder.

A very special insider tip is medicinal water rich in calcium – this should contain at least 250 milligrams of calcium per liter. This healing water can not only help to eliminate calcium deficiency, but also alleviate existing diseases such as osteoporosis.

Outlook & Forecast

The prognosis of calcium deficiency is very good. For most patients, it is enough to consistently change their food intake. In doing so, it is increasingly tailored to the needs of the body. Initially, a high intake of calcium occurs through food such as fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts. The increased consumption of these foods is recommended over several days until the organism is in balance again.

As soon as the deficiency has been remedied, food consumption is further optimized so that the proportion of calcium remains stable in the long term. In return, the initially increased consumption of calcium-containing products can be reduced back to a normal level. In addition, the administration of calcium supplements can be used to shorten the healing process. These are available in pharmacies, drugstores or health food stores. Of course, a doctor can also issue a suitable prescription.

In the case of a calcium deficiency, the patient has a good chance of recovery within a few weeks. The prerequisite for this is that no consequential damage has occurred as a result of the defect to date. If the bone or tooth structure has already been damaged by prolonged calcium deficiency, complete healing is unlikely. Both are considered irreparable and can only be improved by replacing them or changing your general lifestyle.

prevention

The best way to prevent a calcium deficiency is with the right diet. But which foods contain the most calcium? All dairy products should be mentioned here in particular; but nuts and vegetables as well as a number of whole grain products also contain sufficient calcium.

In addition, getting enough exercise is essential to staying healthy and preventing diseases like osteoporosis. You should exercise at least 45 minutes a day – a walk in the fresh air is enough here.

aftercare

Acute calcium deficiency usually does not require aftercare, but chronic ones do. A chronic deficiency situation can result, for example, from years of taking magnesium supplements without the addition of calcium. Since calcium and magnesium should always be taken in a certain ratio to each other, the lack of one of the two minerals leads to decalcified bones and teeth in the long run.

These are consequences of chronic calcium deficiency and a low-calcium diet. The organism uses internal calcium sources such as bones and teeth to compensate for the deficiency situation. However, the calcium intake should also be increased if the stomach has been surgically reduced.

Since the reduced stomach means that much less food can be consumed afterwards, chronic calcium deficiency should be prevented. Other nutrients and vitamins should also be substituted if there is a gastric sleeve or after the insertion of a gastric band.

The same applies after an operation on the parathyroid glands or a transplant of the parathyroid glands. These measures can severely disrupt the calcium-phosphate metabolism. The removal of the thyroid gland can also result in a calcium deficiency. In these cases, substitution with the mineral is essential.

Diet-related calcium deficiency is rare. However, it is definitely possible in the case of gross malnutrition without sufficient intake of vital substances or in the case of long-standing anorexia nervosa .

You can do that yourself

A varied and calcium -rich diet usually prevents calcium deficiency. In addition to milk and soy products, foods that contain a particularly large amount of calcium also include green vegetables, nuts, herbs and some types of berries. In addition, eggs , fish and mineral water have a high calcium content. The calcium level can be well balanced with a healthy diet.

If the doctor determines that the calcium level is low, medication is used to raise the calcium level again. However, there are also calcium preparations that can be bought over the counter and in pharmacies . These over-the-counter medications are suitable for preventing calcium deficiency or correcting a minor calcium deficiency.

The preparations are offered in the form of effervescent tablets, ampoules or in powder form and often also contain magnesium, vitamin D3 and zinc . When ingesting large amounts of calcium, it is advisable to spread the dose over the day and take it with plenty of liquid to ensure optimal calcium absorption.

Care should be taken when taking calcium independently. An excess of calcium can have serious consequences such as cardiac arrhythmias or digestive problems. It is therefore advisable for your doctor to monitor your calcium levels.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.