Calcium is one of the most important minerals our body requires.
Almost 99% of the body’s calcium is found in the bones.
Calcium combines with other minerals to form hard crystals that give our bones strength and structure. It’s also required for the heart, muscles, and nerves to function properly.
However, some studies have estimated that around 3.5 billion people around the world are calcium deficient.
Calcium deficiency symptoms take some time to manifest as when our body encounters low calcium levels, it starts taking calcium from the bones.
Long term deficiency of calcium is called Hypocalcaemia and can lead to osteoporosis, weak bones, and dental problems.
Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to the signs that our body is giving you. Dive through these 17 signs to check if your calcium levels are below the required levels.
1. Brittle nails and bad skin
Chronic low calcium levels often result in brittle nails and dry skin.
Nails are made up of hardened keratin and include a significant level of calcium deposit as well. Calcium plays a key role in maintaining the hardness and structure of nails and keeps the tissues of the nail bed healthy.
Lack of calcium in the body can lead to dry and brittle nails that split, break, peel off easily.
2. Muscle spasms or cramps
Muscle spasms and cramps are one of the most common symptoms of calcium deficiency and are also one of the firsts to appear.
Calcium plays an important role in muscular contractions and regulates the rate of contraction of the cardiac muscles as well.
In the absence of calcium, the body takes calcium from the bones to carry out the muscular functions. This results in a leg and arm pain, spasms and cramps even while doing light physical activity.
3. Spasming of Larynx
The key role of calcium in muscle contraction is important for larynx as well.
The larynx is the organ that is more popularly known as the voice box.
It has internal and external muscles. The internal muscles move individual components, and this plays a role in breathing and producing sounds. While the external muscles, lift or depress the organ while swallowing.
Improper muscle functioning due to lack of calcium can lead to spasming of the larynx. This might lead to a loss of voice.
If you are regularly feeling spasms in the larynx, this could be a warning of a lack of calcium for your muscles to function properly.
Consider consulting a physician and adding calcium rich foods to your diet.
4. Fracture and Bone breakage
Almost 99% of our body’s calcium is in our bones and therefore it is not surprising that a calcium deficiency would impact our bone health as well.
Low levels of calcium in the body can cause our bones to weaken leaving them prone to easy fractures and breaking.
Chronic calcium deficiency in its severe form can lead to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a medical condition where the bones become extremely weak and are at greater risk of sudden and unexpected fracture.
Osteoporosis results in increased loss of bone mass and strength. The loss of bone is often progressive and without any pain.
Until the age of 30, our body generally builds more bone than it loses. However, after the age of 30, the bone breakdown is faster than rebuilding leading to a gradual loss of bone mass and a higher risk of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis can be diagnosed by undertaking a bone mineral density test.
6. Blood Clotting
While Vitamin K is an important nutrient for blood clotting, Calcium plays an important part too in the blood clotting process.
Vitamin K and fibrinogen along with calcium work together to help the body form clots.
7. Dry skin and Eczema
Calcium is also found on the outer layers of skin (epidermis) where it plays an important role in repair and self-replenishing. Some studies have also linked calcium presence to skin aging.
Low levels of calcium in the body can result in dry and itchy skin.
Eczema is another skin disorder that can develop due to a chronic deficiency of calcium. Eczema is the general term for skin rashes and inflammations. The symptom includes itchiness, redness, and blisters on the skin.
Eczema is treatable with topical ointments and medication but its best to correct your calcium intake as well.
8. Coarse Hair
Calcium plays a key role in keeping the hair healthy as well.
Calcium helps with the secretion of hormones and certain enzymes, such as biotin, that help with hair growth.
Deficiency of calcium can lead to the hair becoming brittle, coarse and weak. A rapid hair loss could be one of the signs of calcium deficiency in the body.
9. Irregular Heartbeat
The heart is the most important muscle in the human body and is dependent on calcium to help with its regular contractions.
Calcium is needed to send signals through the nerves to the heart muscle for pumping blood throughout the body.
A lack of calcium in the body can upset this signal and cause an abnormal heartbeat.
While a seizure could be caused due to several factors – the first suspect can be a chronic lack of calcium.
A few studies have indicated that hypoglycemia can lead to neurological manifestations including tetany, seizures, and delirium.
Neurotransmitter release and muscle contraction are key processes for neuromuscular activity. Both of these processes require adequate calcium levels in the body to function properly. Calcium deficiency can disrupt these functions and cause seizures.
11. Menstrual Cramps
Calcium plays a role in the menstrual cycles of women as well and its deficiency can increase menstrual distress.
A study focused on the effects of calcium supplement on PMS symptoms noted that calcium supplementation for three menstrual cycles reduced core premenstrual syndrome symptoms in women.
12. Tooth Decay
After bones, teeth hold the most calcium of the body and therefore it’s not surprising calcium deficiency shows in teeth as well.
When our body experiences chronic calcium deficiency, it starts to pull calcium from the teeth as well.
This can result in dental problems, brittle gums, and tooth decay.
Among other factors, depression and other mood disorders stem from dysfunction in the central nervous system as well.
Calcium helps in transmitting messages in nerves and therefore plays a key role in releasing hormones and assists muscle functioning.
Some studies have shown a calcium deficiency can lead to the development of depression symptoms.
Symptoms of dysfunction of the nervous system due to low levels of calcium can manifest in the form of depression, irritability, and other mood related disorders.
14. High Blood Pressure or Hypertension
Several studies have been done establishing the inverse relation of calcium with blood pressure. Low calcium levels have been shown to increase blood pressure while adequate calcium supplementation has been shown to bring down systolic blood pressure.
However, the range of increase/decrease in blood pressure is still an ongoing debate.
How to increase your calcium intake?
Calcium is an all purpose mineral and plays a critical part in many of our body functions and general well-being.
Include foods such as Dairy products, leafy green vegetables, beans, tofu, figs, nuts, and fishes like sardines, salmon, and tuna to fulfil your dairy calcium requirement
In case you are unable to include sufficient calcium rich foods in your diet, then you can safely start consuming calcium supplements along with your daily diet.