- Calcium deficiency disease, also known as hypocalcemia, occurs when you don’t get enough calcium. This increases the risk of developing diseases such as osteoporosis.
- Do not self-treat by taking a large amount of calcium supplements. Taking more than your doctor’s recommended dose of calcium supplements could be deadly.
- Complications from hypocalcemia include brittle bones, eye damage, and an abnormal heartbeat.
Calcium is a vital mineral. Your body uses it to stabilize blood pressure and build strong bones and teeth. When you don’t get enough calcium, you increase the risk of developing diseases such as osteoporosis, osteopenia and calcium deficiency disease, also known as hypocalcemia.
You should consume the recommended amount of calcium per day through the food you eat. If necessary, you can take calcium supplements to get enough calcium.
The natural aging process can cause calcium deficiency disease. Most of the calcium in your body is stored in your bones. As you age, your bones begin to thin or become less dense, increasing your daily calcium requirement.
It’s vital for women to consume the recommended daily dose of calcium during middle age. This is when most women approach menopause. A decline in the hormone estrogen during menopause causes a woman’s bones to thin faster.
Most menopausal women should increase the amount of calcium in the foods they eat to reduce the risk of brittle bone disease (osteoporosis) and calcium deficiency disease. During and after menopause, women should consume about 1,500 mg of calcium every day, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Premature babies, babies born to mothers with diabetes, and those who may have experienced low oxygen levels during gestation, run the risk of developing neonatal hypocalcemia.
The hormone disorder hypoparathyroidism may also cause calcium deficiency disease. People with this condition don’t produce enough parathyroid hormone. This hormone controls calcium levels in the blood.
Other causes of calcium deficiency disease include malnutrition (starvation) and malabsorption. Malabsorption is when your body can’t absorb the vitamins and minerals you need from the food you eat.
Early-stage calcium deficiency may not cause any symptoms. However, symptoms will develop as the condition progresses.
Severe symptoms of calcium deficiency disease include:
- memory loss
- muscle spasms
- numbness and tingling in the hands, feet, and face
Contact your doctor if you have symptoms of hypocalcemia. They’ll review your medical history and ask you about family history of calcium deficiency and osteoporosis.
If your doctor suspects calcium deficiency, they’ll take a blood sample to check your blood calcium level. Sustained low calcium levels in your blood may confirm a diagnosis of calcium deficiency disease.
Calcium deficiency is usually easy to treat. It typically involves adding more calcium to your diet. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe calcium supplements.
Do not self-treat by taking a large amount of calcium supplements. Taking more than the recommended dose of calcium without your doctor’s approval can lead to a calcium overdose. A calcium overdose can be deadly.
Sometimes, diet changes and supplements aren’t enough to treat a calcium deficiency. In this case, your doctor may want to regulate your calcium levels by giving you regular calcium injections.
Complications from hypocalcemia include brittle bones, eye damage, and an abnormal heartbeat. If left untreated, calcium deficiency disease will eventually lead to death.
Long-term calcium deficiency can increase your risk for developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes your bones to become brittle due to bone loss. With this disease, bones will fracture with little impact.
Complications from osteoporosis include:
- spinal fractures
- inability to walk
Include calcium and vitamin D in your diet every day. Vitamin D is important because it increases the rate at which calcium is absorbed into your blood. Ask your doctor how much of each one you need, based on your age and sex.
Be aware that foods high in vitamin D and calcium, such as dairy products, can also be high in saturated fat and trans fat. Choose low-fat or fat-free options to reduce your risk of developing high cholesterol and heart disease. Other healthy, calcium-rich food choices include sardines and spinach.
Supplement your diet by taking a multivitamin. Multivitamins may not contain all of the calcium you need, so be sure to consume a well-rounded diet. If you’re pregnant, take a prenatal vitamin.
If you’re at high risk for developing calcium deficiency, your doctor may suggest that you take calcium supplements. Calcium supplements are available in liquid, tablet, and chewable forms.