Numbness or tingling sensation after sitting for a while,
Frequent muscle cramps,
Poor appetite or lethargy…
Have you ever given it a thought that the constant struggle to keep your manicured nails long could possibly be a sign that your body is screaming for more calcium?
Calcium deficiency can happen at any age but is predominantly seen as the age progresses. Hence, it is imperative to ensure proper calcium intake at all ages. Women between the age group 19-50 need 1000 mg of calcium per day while age of 50 and above need 1200 mg1 of calcium per day. Calcium requirement may vary depending on hormonal conditions, pregnancy and for athletes.
99% of calcium is found in our teeth and bones and 1% in our blood hence it is needless to say, calcium plays a key role in the process of bone and teeth formation. Apart from that it is also essential for neuromuscular, hormonal and various other metabolic activities.
Causes of Calcium Deficiency
Past couple of decades has seen a rising risk to women’s health due to calcium deficiency. As our busy lifestyle has paved way to processed and packaged food, our intake of healthy food rich in essential minerals, especially calcium has diminished exponentially.
Listed below are few factors which contribute to calcium deficiency in women.
- Postmenopausal hormonal changes. As women move towards postmenopausal stage, there is a reduction in estrogen, the female hormone in their body which is very essential for calcium metabolism. This decrease in estrogen causes decrease in calcium which in turn affects the bones.
- Poor calcium intake. A poor calcium intake from childhood leads to calcium deficiency as you age.
- Calcium is linked to other essential minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Any change in levels of any of these essential minerals can lead you to calcium deficiency.
- If you have dietary intolerance, again you might be at risk for calcium deficiency.
- Malabsorption. Proper absorption of calcium is essential for your body functioning. There are certain factors which affect the proper absorption of calcium such as eating fatty or sugar rich food, decrease in vitamin D, magnesium or phosphorus in our body, or certain mediations like corticosteroids or diuretics, which hinder in calcium absorption.
- Certain conditions like hyperparathyroidism, cancer, kidney failure can also cause calcium deficiency.
How to Recognize Calcium Deficiency
As stated earlier, if you are suffering from few or all of the symptoms mentioned below, it’s a definate sign of calcium deficiency.
- Muscle cramps
- Dry brittle nails
- Decreased appetite
- Delayed puberty
- Tooth decay
- Frequent fractures or breaking of bones
How to Prevent Calcium Deficiency
Upping your calcium intake is the best way to keep calcium deficiency at bay. You diet should be providing you your daily calcium needs which can be augmented by low dose calcium supplements. Taking high dose supplements can result in other complications such as kidney stones or heart disease and should not be attempted without medical supervision. Milk and other dairy products are a rich source of calcium. Make them a major part of your daily diet. Include vegetables like beans, spinach, avocado, broccoli, kale in your diet which is a rich source of calcium. If you are a non-vegetarian, it is a good idea to include fish like sardines or salmon in your diet.
As discussed earlier, minerals like magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin D are also essential for the metabolism of calcium, hence ensure your diet is enriched with these minerals too. Milk, eggs, cheese, butter, cream, shrimps and oysters are good food sources for vitamin D. Basking in the sun for at least 15 minutes a day takes care of your quota of vitamin D. Lentils, poultry products, fish and diary also take care of your phosphorus levels.
Calcium deficiency can be diagnosed by measuring the amount of calcium in your blood. Once you start noticing symptoms of calcium deficiency, you would do well to contact your physician who with a couple of blood tests will measure the calcium level in your body. Additional lab tests such as magnesium, phosphorus, parathyroid hormone and vitamin D levels further helps in determining the cause of calcium deficiency. Once the cause is established, it is just a matter of lifestyle change and supplements which will set you on the right track.
Owing to busy schedules and lack of time, one often overlooks these symptoms until they worsen. But with the help of a trusted home healthcare service provider, you can have a consultation right at your doorstep. And that’s not all; you can also have all recommended tests at the comfort of your home at your convenient time. So, this Women’s Day