If you have strong bones and teeth, you can thank calcium for that. Calcium is an essential mineral that your body needs not only for bone and tooth health, but your body also uses calcium to stabilize blood pressure and regulate the heartbeat. Most calcium is stored in the bones and as the bones begin to thin with age, calcium is lost. This is normal and usually replaced daily with the foods we eat, but how can you tell if you’re not getting enough calcium?
To decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis or calcium deficiency disease (hypocalcemia), take note of these calcium deficiency symptoms.
1. Muscle cramps: Are your muscles aching, even when you haven’t worked out? Muscle aches and cramps are one of the first signs of a possible calcium deficiency. Calcium regulates muscle contractions and aches specifically in the arms, underarms and thighs during normal movement (like walking) can be an indication.
2. Brittle nails: Calcium helps nails to grow and strengthen nails. If your nails are weak and slow to grow, this could be a sign you aren’t getting enough calcium.
3. Insomnia: Not getting enough calcium during the day may keep you up at night. A lack of calcium may prevent you from sleep or prevent you for having restful, deep sleep.
4. Tooth decay: 99% of calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. Signs of tooth decay (e.g., thinning enamel, white spots on the tooth) could be a sign of calcium loss in addition to more serious oral health issues.
5. Fatigue: Oftentimes, calcium deficiency displays no symptoms. If you generally look and feel fine, but feel more tired than usual and more often, the unexplained fatigue could be from a lack of calcium.
More severe symptoms can include depression, memory loss and numbness or tingling in the hands and feet.
Get More Calcium In Your Diet
Incorporating more foods in your daily diet with calcium with help to give your body the recommended amount of calcium it needs. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich natural sources of calcium. Nondairy sources include vegetables, such as Chinese cabbage, kale, spinach and broccoli. Foods like grains, cereal and fruit juices can also be fortified with added calcium. Calcium supplements are also an option, but should only be consumed at the advice of your doctor.
The chart below provides the recommended amount of calcium for your age group:
|0–6 months*||200 mg||200 mg|
|7–12 months*||260 mg||260 mg|
|1–3 years||700 mg||700 mg|
|4–8 years||1,000 mg||1,000 mg|
|9–13 years||1,300 mg||1,300 mg|
|14–18 years||1,300 mg||1,300 mg||1,300 mg||1,300 mg|
|19–50 years||1,000 mg||1,000 mg||1,000 mg||1,000 mg|
|51–70 years||1,000 mg||1,200 mg|
|71+ years||1,200 mg||1,200 mg|
* Adequate Intake (AI)
See your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment if you suspect you have a calcium deficiency.
Visit the BlackDoctor.org Healthy Aging center for more articles.