Calcium is arguably the most important nutrient in your body.More than 99% of your calcium is stored in your bones and your teeth, which supports skeletal function and structure. The rest of the calcium in your body is used for other critical functions such as muscle contraction, blood vessel contraction and expansion, and sending messages through the nervous system.
What is Calcium Deficiency Disease?
Calcium deficiency disease, known as hypocalcemia, is a global health problem. People around the world are simply not getting enough calcium from their diets. This is particularly problematic in developing nations where food sources may be scarce.
When you have low calcium intake, you increase your risk of developing diseases like:
- Osteopenia — Bone loss or bone thinning beyond the normal range is known as osteopenia. It’s a precursor to osteoporosis and is officially marked with a T-score between -1 and -2.49. T-scores are calculated as a part of DEXA scans, which measure bone mineral density.
- Osteoporosis — Excessive bone density loss resulting in a T-score of -2.5 or lower is categorized as osteoporosis. Bones become weak and brittle and put you at an increased risk of fracture.
If your body doesn’t get enough calcium to keep its base functions running smoothly, it will leach calcium from your bones to make up for the shortfall.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms described below may become worse as the disease progresses.
1. Muscle problems
Muscle aches, cramps, and spasms are the earliest signs of a calcium deficiency. People tend to feel pain in the thighs and arms, particularly the underarms, when walking and otherwise moving.A calcium deficiency can also cause numbness and tingling in the hands, arms, feet, legs, and around the mouth.These sensations may indicate a more severe deficiency.These symptoms can come and go, but they do not disappear with activity, and a person may have to wait them out.
2. Extreme fatigue
Low levels of calcium can cause insomia or sleepiness.
People tend to experience:
- extreme fatigue
- an overall feeling of sluggishness
- lack of energy
Fatigue associated with calcium deficiency can also cause lightheadedness, dizziness, and brain fog, which involves lack of focus, forgetfulness, and confusion.
3. Nail and Skin Symptoms
Chronic calcium deficiency can affect the skin and nails.The skin may become dry and itchy, and researchers have linked hypocalcemia to eczema and psoriasis. Eczema is a general term for skin inflammation. Symptoms include itchiness, redness, and skin blisters. Eczema is highly treatable, while psoriasis can be managed, but there is no cure.A calcium deficiency may lead to dry, broken, and brittle nails. It can also contribute to alopecia, a condition that causes hair to fall out in round patches.
4. Dental Problems
When the body lacks calcium, it pulls it from sources such as the teeth. This can lead to dental problems, including weak roots, irritated gums, brittle teeth, and tooth decay.Also, calcium deficiency in infants can delay tooth formation.
Calcium deficiency has been linked to mood disorders, including depression, though evidence is lacking.Anyone who suspects that a calcium deficiency is contributing to depressive symptoms should ask a doctor to check their levels. Calcium supplements could help to manage these symptoms.
If you have Low blood calcium levels:
Low blood calcium levels and the lack of calcium may lead to the following low calcium symptoms:
- Heart failure
- Chest pains
- Numbness and tingling sensations around the mouth or in the fingers and toes
- Muscle cramps, particularly in the back and legs; may progress to muscle spasm ( tetany)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Voice changes due to spasm of the larynx
- Irritability, impaired intellectual capacity, depression, anxiety, and personality changes
- Coarse hair
- Brittle nails
- Dry skin
- Chronic itching
- Tooth decay
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Muscle weakness