Calcium Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention
Calcium is an essential mineral needed to build strong bones and teeth. It is also important for your nerves, heart, and muscle function.
This means consuming enough calcium is essential for keeping your bones and teeth strong.
If you don’t get enough calcium on a daily basis, you risk developing calcium deficiency disease (hypocalcemia) or osteoporosis.
The only way to get the mineral is from the foods we eat every day or supplements.
Unfortunately, not all people get enough calcium from food, and this is because of many reasons, like an allergy to dairy products or vegans and people who are lactose intolerant.
So, if you don’t drink milk or eat dairy products you could be at risk of calcium deficiency.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for women and men is 1,000 mg to 1,300 mg, depending on your age.
Symptoms Of Calcium Deficiency
Calcium deficiency may not cause obvious symptoms in the short term. But over the long term, symptoms will develop causing low bone mass and bone fractures.
Symptoms of calcium deficiency include:
- Muscle spasm.
- Muscle cramps.
- Bone fractures.
- Memory loss.
- Numbness and tingling in the fingers, feet.
- Dental problems.
- Week nails.
- Fragile skin.
- Slow hair growth.
Risk Factors Of Calcium Deficiency:
The following are the main factors that increase the risk of calcium deficiency.
- Vegans or people who are lactose intolerant do not consume enough dairy in their daily meals.
- Some medications that may decrease calcium absorption.
- Lack of vitamin D.
- Cigarette smoking and excessive, excessive alcohol consumption.
- Hormonal changes in women (low estrogen levels in women) menopause.
An adequate level of calcium is essential for optimal bone health in all ages.
Here are the average daily recommended amounts of calcium you need each day depending on your age:
- Birth to 6 months: 200 mg
- Infants 7-12 months: 260 mg
- Children 1-3 years: 700 mg
- 4-8 years: 1,000 mg
- Teens 14-18 years: 1,300 mg
- Adults 19-50 years: 1,000 mg
- Adult men 51-70 years: 1,000 mg
- Adult women 51-70 years: 1,200 mg
- Adults 71 years and older: 1,200 mg
- Pregnant and breastfeeding adults: 1,000 mg
How To Prevent Calcium Deficiency
Eating a diet that has adequate calcium and vitamin D can be beneficial in preventing calcium deficiency.
Calcium is found in many foods, you can get the recommended amount of this mineral by including these foods in your diet:
- Include dairy products in your diet every day ( milk, yogurt, and cheese).
- Leafy green vegetables (kale, cabbage, broccoli).
- Fortified foods with calcium, like breakfast cereals, fruit juices, soy, and tofu.
- Include brazil nuts or almonds in your diet.
Vitamin D helps the absorption of dietary calcium into your blood. The lack of this vitamin can cause calcium deficiency.
It has been shown in some studies that vitamin D along with adequate calcium increase bone density and decrease fractures in postmenopausal women.
Vitamin D production by the skin is dependent on exposure to sunlight. So, getting regular exposure to the sun can help boost your vitamin D levels.
To increase the absorption of calcium, you can also add food rich in vitamin D to your diet, such as fatty fish (salmon, tuna), eggs, fortified orange juice, Portobello mushrooms.
According to the national institutes of health, the daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA) For Vitamin D are:
- 800 IU/day for men and women over the age of 71
- 600 IU/day for women in other age groups, men, and children
- 400 IU/day for infants under 12 months
Calcium deficiency can occur for many reasons and it can easily be prevented through a healthy lifestyle, dietary changes, exercising regularly, and restricting tobacco use and alcohol intake.