From sleepless nights to brittle nails to depression, a calcium deficiency takes a toll on your body in these different ways.
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on August 30, 2019.
With so many functions going on in your body, each nutrient has a vital role to play in the entire scheme of things. That’s why your body needs a balance of them all.
Calcium is one of the minerals in your body that’s found in plenty. Your teeth and bones take up the most amount of your calcium intake, and the rest is found in your nerve cells, body tissues, blood, and other body fluids, according to MedlinePlus. Not only does it keep those bones and teeth strong, but making sure that you get the right intake of calcium can save you from experiencing osteoporosis in future. Apart from this, calcium is also essential when your body needs to send and receive signals from the nerves, squeeze and relax your muscles, release hormones and vital chemicals, and also maintain your heartbeat at an ordinary pace.
How much calcium you need depends on your age. As per the National Cancer Institute, individuals between the ages of 19-50 must have 1000 mg per day while individuals who are 51 years and above must have 1200 mg per day. One important thing to note is that vitamin D and calcium are closely related. “Vitamin D is the key ingredient to allow the gut to absorb calcium,” says Dr. Lynn Mack, an endocrinologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, according to Health.com. “So if you are vitamin D deficient, you don’t efficiently absorb calcium.”
When there is a dip in the level of calcium in your body it can lead to hypocalcemia, commonly known as calcium deficiency. This can lead to some unpleasant symptoms, some of which are as follows:
While walking and moving, a calcium deficiency can cause aches, cramps, and spasms in your muscles. Also, it is one of the earliest signs of calcium deficiency, according to an article reviewed by Dr. Suzanne Falck. The main areas where you might feel the discomfort is in your thighs and arms, especially your underarm. Additionally, it could also lead to feelings of numbness and tingling in other areas like your hands, feet, arms, legs and even around your mouth.
If you notice that you have been lying in your bed counting sheep for too long at night, it may be because of a dip in your calcium levels. Dr. William Sears said, "Calcium helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. This explains why dairy products, which contain both tryptophan and calcium, are one of the top sleep-inducing foods," according to Medical News Today. It was noted that a calcium deficiency can interrupt your sleep or disturb your normal course of sleep.
If your body doesn’t get enough calcium over a long period of time, it starts taking a toll on your skin. When you start noticing that your skin is becoming dry or even that your hair is becoming course, it is said to be an effect of hypocalcemia. Your skin will start to appear dry and scaly, and it could even lead to conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Calcium also plays a role in making your nails appear the way they generally do. It is said that when your calcium intake drops over time, it can weaken your nails, making them brittle and more likely to split. And because they become weak, even a little impact can make them crack.
One of the most unpleasant symptoms of a calcium deficiency is the tiredness that comes with it. You might feel lethargic, sluggish, and experience an overall lack of energy. Along with fatigue, it might also make you feel lightheaded and dizzy. You might feel like you’re forgetting things, and feel disoriented and unable to focus on things at hand.
One of the most common conditions that are experienced by women is osteoporosis, causing the bones to be extremely weak as they grow older. This can cause your bones to break as well, putting you through severe pain and disability. Your everyday routine might slow down or drastically change because even simple tasks like walking or lifting things might become much more difficult to do. This condition is also more likely to be diagnosed in women by a large margin than men. It is estimated by the Office on Women's Health that 80% of the people in America who are diagnosed with osteoporosis are women.
Calcium is found in your bones and teeth and helps build bones and keep them healthy, amongst many other functions. If your body does not get enough calcium from the food you eat every day, it will take the calcium it needs from your bones, making your bones weak, hence leading to diseases like osteoporosis.
Some researchers have been able to find links between depression and calcium deficiency. One study did not find any relationship between the intake of calcium and self-rated depression. However, one key finding was that the total intake of calcium was inversely related to the risk of self-rated depression. Therefore, it is possible that if you are consuming adequate levels of calcium, then the risk of developing symptoms of depression are lower.
It is said that when there is a lack of calcium in your system, your body starts taking it out from available sources, such as your teeth. When the calcium in your teeth is pulled out, it can weaken your roots, cause discomfort in your gums and cause decay.
The great news for women is that there are studies linking calcium intake and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. One particular study found that the intake of calcium doses reduced the symptoms of PMS. Therefore, more calcium in your diet can lessen mood disorders that are linked with PMS. So if you feel like you have been having some painful cramps during PMS, it would do well to check your calcium intake.