What is Calcium Deficiency?
Calcium deficiency is a condition arising due to insufficient amounts of calcium in the body. Calcium is a mineral which plays a vital role in maintaining the health of bones and teeth and a normal heart rhythm. Calcium is also required for nerve and hormone function, blood coagulation, muscle contractions and relaxation and blood pressure regulation.
There are two types of Calcium Deficiency
1. Dietary Calcium Deficiency – This condition is caused due to insufficient intake of calcium in the diet which results in depleted calcium store in the bones, leading to thinning and weakening of bones.
2. Hypocalcemia – In this condition, there is a low level of calcium in the blood. This condition generally occurs due to side effects of medications.
Early stage of calcium deficiency generally may not produce any symptoms. However, symptoms shall develop as the condition progresses. Some of the symptoms of calcium deficiency disease are as follows:
- Muscle spasms and cramps.
- Memory loss or confusion.
- Numbness & tingling in the face, hands and feet.
- Easy fracturing of bones.
- Brittle nails.
- Slower hair growth.
- Dry skin.
- Decay of tooth.
- Late Puberty.
Some of the causes, which give rise to Calcium deficiency, are as follows:
1. Age – Natural aging process is one of the commonest causes leading to calcium deficiency. Majority of the calcium in our body is stored in the bones. As we age, our bones begin to thin or become less dense and also our body becomes less efficient in absorbing calcium from foods. Therefore, increasing our daily calcium requirement.
2. Calcium consumption – Failure to consume the recommended amounts of calcium results in the depletion of calcium stores in the blood resulting in thinning of bones. Due to decreased levels of calcium in the blood, the body is forced to utilize the required calcium from the bones in order to perform vital functions.
3. Mal-absorption – Adequate calcium absorption is essential for performing the vital body functions. There are certain substances which may interfere with the absorption of calcium such as consumption of excess amounts of fat, protein or sugar; large amounts of phytic acid that inhibit absorption of calcium; drugs like caffeine, diuretics, glucocorticoids, fluoride, etc.
4. Vitamin D, magnesium, sodium & phosphorus – Nutrients such as vitamin D & magnesium enhance calcium absorption hence; deficiency of these nutrients can lead to calcium deficiency. Excess of phosphorus and sodium can affects calcium absorption.
5. Menopause – Menopause causes reduction in estrogen levels. Estrogen helps in maintaining calcium within the bones; thereby, reducing calcium absorption.
6. Medical Conditions – Certain medical conditions such as breast cancers, prostate cancers, hypoparathyroidism, kidney failures & pancreatitis.
7. Medications – Certain medications such as diuretics and chemotherapy & surgical procedures of removal of the stomach can adversely affect calcium absorption.
Calcium deficiency can be treated through the following ways:
1. Dietary Changes – Increased intake of calcium rich foods can be beneficial in treating the initial stages of calcium deficiency. Along with this consumption of foods rich in vitamin D too, should be encouraged as Vitamin D enhances the absorption of calcium.
2. Calcium Supplements – In case calcium-rich diet is not sufficient to treat the deficiency then, calcium supplements can be advised. These supplements are available in tablet, liquid, and chewable forms. Excessive intake of calcium supplements can lead to fatal conditions hence; it should be consumed only under the supervision of a physician.
3. Injections – In case calcium rich diet & supplements failed to yield the desired results then, calcium injections can be recommended.