calcium deficiency

How do you know you are calcium deficient and how to supplement calcium?

Calcium is an abundant mineral in the human body that does a great job: strengthening bones. About 98% of the calcium in the human body is stored in bones. In addition, our bodies need calcium to maintain the normal function of teeth, heart, nerves and muscles.


Calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis and possible fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist. A low-calcium diet is one of the factors that increases the risk of bone loss. 

The following content teaches us how to determine whether we have enough calcium in our body to keep our bones strong.

What is calcium deficiency?

Our bodies cannot produce calcium on their own, so the calcium our body needs for growth comes from diet and supplements. The recommended daily dietary allowances (RDA) for calcium are: 

  • Men and women ages 19 to 50 take 1,000 mg daily
  • Women aged 51 to 70 take 1,200 mg
  • 1,200 mg daily for those 70 years and older

Bones absorb calcium from the blood. Only when there is enough calcium in the blood can the bones absorb enough calcium as the blood circulates, thereby avoiding the problem of calcium deficiency. Blood calcium levels in healthy people usually range from 8.8 to 10.4 mg/dL. [2]

Generally speaking, calcium deficiency can result from low intake of vitamins or minerals.

Calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis or other calcium-related diseases. ¬≤Hypocalcemia is a calcium deficiency defined as blood calcium levels below 8.5 mg/dL. 

What causes calcium deficiency?

When calcium levels in the blood are low, especially over a prolonged period of time, less calcium is available to the bones. The body attempts to maintain a stable balance by not storing calcium.

The body sometimes takes up or reabsorbs calcium from bones or teeth to maintain adequate blood calcium levels, which may increase the risk of osteoporosis in the future.

Hypocalcemia is a severe calcium deficiency that can be caused by a lack of adequate vitamin D or magnesium. Other causes of hypocalcemia may include insufficient production of parathyroid hormone, serious illness, and certain medications, such as drugs that prevent or slow bone loss (called bisphosphonates), chemotherapy drugs, and protons for acid reflux Pump inhibitors.

Risk factors for calcium deficiency

The following groups of people are more likely to be deficient in calcium.

  1. menopausal women

After menopause, women lose approximately 1% of their bone density every year. To keep bones strong after menopause, when the risk of osteoporosis increases due to lower estrogen levels, a daily intake of 1,200 mg of calcium is recommended. 

2. People who consume less dairy products

Dairy products are rich in calcium and vitamin D. People who avoid dairy products (such as milk, cheese, and yogurt) due to lactose intolerance, milk allergy, vegetarianism, and other reasons are more likely to not meet calcium requirements. 

3. Patients with hypoparathyroidism

People with this rare disease produce too little parathyroid hormone in their bodies, resulting in low circulating calcium levels. 

4. People who are deficient in magnesium

Magnesium causes the parathyroid glands (two small glands in the neck) to release a hormone that increases blood calcium levels when they are low. Magnesium deficiency can lead to hypocalcemia, or low blood calcium.

Depending on age, men and women need 310 to 420 mg of magnesium daily.

5. Seriously insufficient vitamin D intake

Vitamin D has long been thought to help the body absorb calcium. Vitamin D can be obtained through food, supplements, and sunlight, which causes the skin to produce vitamin D. The RDA for vitamin D is 600 international units (IU), about 15 micrograms, for men and women 70 and younger, and 800 IU, about 20 micrograms, for adults over 70. 

However, new evidence suggests that taking vitamin D supplements may not be the key to preventing fractures, at least among many middle-aged and older adults. Vitamin D supplementation did not significantly reduce fracture risk compared with placebo. 

Therefore, vitamin D is only one of the factors in preventing fractures, but it is not the main factor.

symptoms of calcium deficiency

Calcium deficiency may have no symptoms or may be difficult to detect. For example, osteoporosis is difficult to detect and may only be diagnosed in the hospital when a bone in the body is broken. Likewise, the most severe form of calcium deficiency, hypocalcemia, may also be asymptomatic. 

But when it does cause symptoms, you may feel: 

  • Burning or tingling sensation in hands and feet
  • muscle spasms
  • Overly nervous
  • Headache
  • Muscle spasms in the hands, feet, arms, legs, or face
  • Numbness or tingling around your mouth, fingers, and toes
  • dry, rough skin
  • Patchy hair loss, such as thinning of eyebrows
  • fatigue
  • abnormal heart rhythm

If these symptoms occur, seek medical attention. Severe hypocalcemia can cause kidney damage, depression, bipolar disorder, cerebral calcification (a type of brain disease), cataracts, congestive heart failure, seizures, burning and tingling sensations in the hands and feet, or coma. 

How to Diagnose Calcium Deficiency

Calcium deficiency can be diagnosed by testing the amount of calcium in the blood. There are two types: 

Whole blood test

This blood test measures all calcium in the blood. There are two types of calcium in the blood: bound calcium and free calcium. The bound calcium attaches to proteins in the blood. Free calcium, also called free calcium, is not attached to proteins. Bound calcium and free calcium are usually present in equal amounts.

Ionized calcium test

This test only measures the amount of free calcium in the blood, which is not attached to proteins. If the whole blood test results are abnormal, an ionized calcium test is usually done.

These blood tests usually only take a few minutes. To check for hypoparathyroidism, your doctor may also order another blood test that measures phosphorus, magnesium, parathyroid hormone, and a urine test.


Eat more calcium-rich foods, including milk, cheese and yogurt , to reduce your risk of bone loss. Low-fat and nonfat dairy products are rich in calcium and have added vitamin D, containing about 300 milligrams of calcium per cup.

Calcium Source
Calcium Source

Other sources of calcium include tofu, fortified cereals, calcium and vitamin D, fortified orange juice, soy and almond milk, and other calcium-fortified beverages. Note: If you buy a fortified drink, shake the container before pouring yourself a drink. The added calcium can settle on the bottom. 

If you are not getting enough nutrients from food, consider supplementing with calcium/vitamin D. For better calcium absorption, take with a meal or snack.  A calcium-rich diet is important both for reducing the risk of calcium deficiency and optimizing bone health.

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