Low Calcium symptoms (calcium deficiency) can really affect your physical and mental health!
Calcium deficiency is a plaguing issue that majorly affects women and children.
Low calcium levels compromise the health of your teeth, bones, nails, and hair. However, the health effects of poor Calcium is not limited to that. Calcium deficiency also increases the risk of hypertension, abnormal heartbeat, dementia, and even convulsions.
Other than natural stages of life such as Menopause, where your blood calcium levels become low; there are several lifestyle choices that can lead to Calcium Deficiency in otherwise healthy persons.
For example, excess caffeine consumption, alcohol abuse, and low levels of Vitamin D can significantly decrease the absorption of Calcium from your foods. This can trigger calcium deficiency in the long term.
In this post we will learn about low calcium symptoms, what causes calcium deficiency in the body, and how you can naturally raise your calcium levels with Ayurveda. Let’s get started!
Functions of Calcium in our Body | Interesting and Important Facts
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body. It makes up approximately 2% of the total body weight.
Consuming enough dietary Calcium i.e. between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams per day for healthy men and women and is a must for optimal nutrition and health.
Calcium is essential for our over overall health both physically and mentally. Our body uses 99% of its calcium to keep the bones and teeth strong. Rest of the calcium is in our blood to maintain electrolyte balance.
It regulates many important body functions such as:
- supports our bones and musculoskeletal function
- disease prevention by its action on immune system
- muscle functioning and contraction
- sleep patterns and nerve function
- and absorption of other essential nutrients
- calcium present in blood plasma helps in blood clotting
- Cells use calcium to activate certain enzymes, transport ions across the cellular membrane, and send and receive neurotransmitters during communication with other cells.
What Causes Low Calcium Levels?
Low calcium levels in the blood can happen due to multiple factors related to lifestyle stages as Menopause, certain health conditions or simply due to poor diet and lifestyle choices that cause Calcium deficiency.
Let’s look into each of them in detail:
1. Dietary Calcium Deficiency
This happens due to low calcium intake than what is required by the body. Dietary Calcium Deficiency is related to nutritionally deficient diet or poor absorption of Calcium from your diet.
2. Vitamin D Deficiency
Inadequate exposure to the Sun may put you at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Since, Vitamin D helps the body to metabolize calcium from the diet. That’s why Vitamin D deficiency causes low calcium levels in the blood.
3. Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption interferes with the working of hormones that regulate the calcium level in the blood.
For example, alcohol negates working of Parathyroid hormone, Estrogen and growth hormones that indirectly control Calcium metabolism in the body.
Also, alcohol abuse damages the liver. This results in absence of the enzymes needed to convert vitamin D, hence further reducing calcium absorption.
Parathyroid gland secrets parathyroid hormone, which regulates calcium levels in blood plasma. It can stimulate bones to release calcium if blood levels of calcium is too low.
Parathyroid hormone also increases the amount of active Vitamin D called Calcitrol, which supports calcium absorption in the intestines.
If the calcium levels in the body fall due to insufficient intake of dietary calcium, it results into an excessive release of parathyroid hormone.
However, if parathyroid gland is not working well, then the calcium levels are disturbed in the body. Both hyper and hypo, excess or low parathyroid hormone can trigger low calcium symptoms in the body.
5. Caffeine and soda
Caffeine and soda contain high amounts of phosphoric acid, which leeches the calcium out of the bones. Also, the phosphates present in caffeine interfere with absorption of calcium an iron from the foods that we consume.
That’s why, if you are struggling with low calcium symptoms, then you should avoid caffeine and soda. Another measure would be to phase out intake of caffeine-rich foods and calcium-rich foods to minimize the impact of interference.
6. Excessive Sodium Intake
High quantities of sodium in the bloodstream could also be behind lower calcium levels in your body. As sodium facilitates absorption of calcium into the urine, this can result in excessive excretion of this essential mineral from your body.
As much more Calcium is being rejected from the bloodstream due to high Sodium levels, Calcium levels drastically drop in the blood.
The blood then compensates for its lower levels by absorbing more calcium from the bones. This whole cycle would eventually result in the symptoms of Calcium Deficiency.
Excessive Sodium level in the bloodstream is also the culprit behind many other health disorders such as elevated blood pressure levels, excessive sweating and unease, and even kidney failure.
7. Health Conditions
Certain health conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders, thyroid disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis can also directly or indirectly (medications) reduce the absorption of calcium in the body. This can cause Calcium Deficiency.
8. Life Stages
Women become more susceptible to low Calcium levels during different stages of life such as in teen age at menarche (when menstruation begins), during her reproductive years (childbearing age), in pregnancy, and at menopause.
9. Low Stomach Acidity
Healthy adults absorb about 30 percent of dietary calcium, but some people’s bodies are unable to absorb or use calcium from food. Elderly people suffer from low HCl levels in the stomach.
As HCl helps in the separation of metal ions from food and further their absorption in the body, hence low HCl levels in the stomach can cause low calcium symptoms.
Hypocalcemia indicates extremely low levels of calcium in the blood. It is caused by certain medications or even medical conditions like hypoparathyroidism.
Such low levels of Calcium is particularly concerning!
Now, calcium levels in the blood need to be maintained for proper function of the brain, heart, nerves, and muscles.
Hence, when the calcium levels fall below a certain level in the blood, your body will pull out the calcium from your bones.
This means that hypocalcemia can put you at real risk of low density of bones and even fracture in some cases.
What are the Symptoms of Hypocalcemia?
- Muscle cramps
- Poor appetite
- Large bruised areas
- Bleeding under the skin that looks like tiny red dots
Low Calcium Symptoms | Your Physical and Mental Health
1. Bone Density Loss
Bone density increases till the age of 30 years, after which it either plateaus or winds down.
Should your diet be deficient in Calcium, your body will make it up from the existing deposit of bones or may not have enough to deposit on the bones for regular maintenance.
Poor bone density is a serious health condition, specifically for children as it can lead to easy fractures, muscular aches, and spasms, and – in extreme cases – rickets.
2. Weak and brittle nails
Our nails require adequate Calcium levels to grow in a healthy manner, for their strength, soften nail ridges, and for ingrown nails.
Weak and brittle nails indicate a deficiency of Calcium in the body.
3. Late signs of puberty
In the case of adolescent females, late achievement of puberty is a major sign of calcium deficiency.
Apart from delayed puberty in teens, menstruation-related problems are also signs of calcium deficiency in the body.
Many teens suffer from period cramps as a result of low calcium symptoms.
4. Tooth decay
Phosphorus, Calcium, and Vitamin D are essential in protecting the teeth and gums in adults and for the growth of teeth in young ones.
Calcium accounts for nearly 70% of each tooth and makes it one of the densest body parts.
Calcium deficiency leads to tooth decay and cavities. It can even delay tooth formation in toddlers.
5. Muscle cramps
Muscle cramps are termed a sudden and uncomfortable contraction of muscles leading to highly localized pain.
Calcium is required for proper muscle functioning including muscle contraction and conduction. Also, Magnesium helps to maintain right muscle electric potential.
Muscle cramps, especially those of the thighs, arms, and underarms while moving and walking indicate serious deficiencies of Magnesium and Calcium within the body.
6. Insomnia and Sleep Disorders
Another troubling yet difficult to ignore symptom from the deficiency of Calcium in the body is insomnia.
Calcium is essential for the production and maintenance of natural hormones Melatonin and Serotonin through the conversion of an essential amino acid Tryptophan.
Both Melatonin and Serotonin are neurotransmitters that slow down nerve transmissions. They thus help you to relax and promote better sleep quality.
7. Poor Bone Health
Low Calcium Symptoms are also reflected in the health of your bones and your musculoskeletal system. Some symptoms are:
- Back or neck pain
- Bone pain or tenderness
- Bone fractures resulting from minor or no trauma
- Loss of height
- Stooped or humped posture
Top Health Tips to Beat Low Calcium Symptoms
When looking to raise your calcium levels naturally, age-old wisdom says to eat calcium rich foods and get enough Vitamin D from the sunshine.
While both of these would definitely aid in keeping your calcium levels umpteen, you also need to look into Calcium absorption or bio availability of Calcium from your diet.
Your lifestyle habits, food choices, and food combinations affect the absorption of ingested calcium inside our body.
So, it is vital that you learn about both increasing your natural calcium intake and at the same time focus on the healthy habits that would help you make the most of your calcium rich foods.
1. Your Diet | Increase Your Intake of Calcium Rich Foods
Calcium is better absorbed in the body from calcium rich foods rather than from fortified options or Calcium supplements.
In fact, Calcium supplements are more often than not responsible for significantly high levels of Calcium in the body. Excess Calcium can deposit in the arteries, hence causing peripheral diseases including coronary disorders.
Hence, it is always better to selectively increase your intake of calcium rich foods and combine them with other elements that would in turn help to enhance the absorption of this essential mineral in the body.
- Leafy greens, especially kale, collard greens, and dark green lettuce, and green herbs such as basil, Moringa, parsley, and dill.
- Dairy sources such as whole milk, cheese, yogurt, and buttermilk. You can opt for low-fat options should you be worried about weight loss. However at Medhya Herbals, we believe in wholesome food options and least tempering with natural food combinations to get the maximum benefit out of it.
- Nuts and Seeds such as sesame seeds, fenugreek seeds, almonds, pistachio and basil seeds.
- Fatty Fish with soft bones such as sardines and salmon.
- Beans and Lentils such as Black beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans.
Health Tips to Raise Calcium Levels and Prevent Low Calcium Symptoms
Let us look into the lifestyle changes that you can employ to naturally boost your calcium levels and hence overcome symptoms of Calcium Deficiency.
2. Reduce consumption of Caffeine and Caffeinated drinks
Caffeine leaches calcium from the bones, zapping their strength!
- Do not drink more than 2 cups of coffee a day and avoid excess intake of caffeinated beverages such as energy drinks, energy shots, and colas.
- Also, to buffer the effects of caffeine, avoid drinking coffee along with your calcium rich foods or meals.
- The caffeine content also varies upon the brewing time and type of coffee you consume.
- Espresso brings you the highest concentration of Caffeine, followed by brewed coffee, which is still further higher than the instant coffee.
- So be vigilant of what you are taking apart from the amount.
- Other options would be to go for decaffeinated coffee or even green tea with which you would reduce your caffeine intake by 70%.
- Alternatively, healthy herbal teas such as mint tea, fruit teas, or basil tea can help you reduce your caffeine intake. They also bring an additional pack of anti-oxidants and bioflavonoids that are hard to get via regular meals.
3. Quit Drinking Soda to control calcium deficiency
Soda, including diet and decaffeinated soda, can interfere with calcium absorption. Hence, it is better to avoid excess intake of soda drinks.
An excess of soda beverages leads to an increase in phosphate levels in the blood.
This, in turn, can leach calcium from your bones and increase calcium excretion in your urine. High phosphate levels also prevent calcium absorption.
4. Avoid combining Oxalates with Calcium Foods
Both bran and beans are rich sources of natural proteins and B Vitamins, hence highly desirable and recommended for your daily nutrition.
However, they also have phytic acid and oxalic acid that binds with calcium and hence can inhibit its absorption. The acids are also found in spinach, Swiss chard, beets, rhubarb, berries, beans, wheat bran, seeds, and grains.
So, avoid combining your calcium rich foods and meals with the mentioned food ingredients to reduce wastage of ingested Calcium from food.
5. Get Sufficient Proteins from Plant Foods
Plant based proteins help to increase calcium absorption from the food. However, animal based proteins interfere with calcium absorption sue to high acidic content.
6. Quit Smoking
Smoking leeches calcium from the bones and induces excretion through the kidneys. It significantly reduces body’s ability to absorb minerals including calcium, iron and magnesium from the food.
7. Physical Activity to prevent low calcium symptoms
Exercise and stress on bones in necessary to stimulate bone making process. As our body’s requirement for calcium increases, it is able to absorb more calcium from the foods that you are consuming.
Regular physical activity also enhances our metabolism and hormone balance. This itself boost absorption of calcium in the body.
8. Increase intake of Healthy Fats
Healthy fats increase the absorption of calcium in the body. Fatty acids in the meals greatly enhance availability of calcium in the intestines by as much as 40%. Combine Omega 3 rich foods with calcium foods in your diet.
9. Intake of Magnesium Rich Foods
The three key mineral elements of the body, Calcium, Magnesium, and Phosphorus go hand in hand in performing the major bodily functions.
Magnesium plays an important role for the absorption and transportation of Calcium within the body. Increase your intake of Magnesium rich foods along with Calcium in the diet.
10. Cut back on salt
Excess sodium is excreted into your urine and it takes calcium with it. The recommended daily sodium intake for adults is 1600 mg. This is actually less than one teaspoon of salt.
- Reduce your consumption of salt in your meals. Increase the use of herbs and spices to naturally enhance the flavor.
- Also, processed foods and snacks have a much higher content of salt, sugar, and even trans fats.
- Eliminate processed foods, ready to eat meals, and extremely salty snacks such as potato chips to reduce your daily salt consumption.
11. Get enough SLEEP to prevent low calcium symptoms
Sufficient Calcium in our bloodstream actually assists with the generation of sleep by inducing production and circulation of hormone Serotonin.
Similarly, enough sleep boosts the functions in the body such as healthy digestion, brain cell development, skin restoration, and blood circulation.
It is as simple as if your body is well rested with sleep, it is able to use the energy into constructive functions. If it is not, it is tired and the functioning is disrupted.
Unhealthy digestion due to lack of sleep leads to an inefficient assimilation of nutrients and majority of them get wasted – even if you are eating healthy. So, get enough SLEEP.
Before you Go!
Now we want to hear from you. What do you do to prevent low calcium symptoms? Which ways do you find most effective?
Do write to us for any queries and feedback. We will get back to you the soonest.
Wishing you vibrant health!