Calcium is perhaps the most essential nutrient when it comes to bone health. Building strong bones is like building a healthy balance in your “calcium bank account.” Bones are living tissue and constantly in a state of turnover, making calcium deposits and withdrawals daily.
Bones don’t come with a lifetime guarantee. They need continuous maintenance or they can weaken and break. If your diet is low in calcium, your body will take calcium from your bones to keep blood calcium at normal levels.
What Is Calcium Deficiency?
Do you think drinking a glass of milk is enough to get your daily dose of calcium? But in reality, it is not.
Calcium deficiency is slowly becoming a pandemic due to poor nutritional choices. Find out whether you too are suffering from it.Although calcium plays a key role in the maintenance of strong and healthy bones, it also helps in blood clotting, early developmental growth and muscle contraction and relaxation. This mineral can be easily obtained from natural food sources like leafy vegetables, yogurt, nuts and cheese. But most people (particularly in the age group of 14-20 years) suffer from calcium deficiency due to lack of efficient absorption.
Here are some signs and symptoms of calcium deficiency you need to be aware of.
1# Weak Bones
Inadequate calcium in your body may affect the health of the bones. This mineral is vital for you to build your bones and keep them strong.With a low calcium level, your bones are likely to get weak, which will increase susceptibility to osteoporosis or fractures. In a long time, weak bones may also impact the stature and overall strength of a person.
This is why parents have to ensure that their children are consuming calcium-rich foods, particularly during their growing years.If you do not take in enough calcium, your body begins using the calcium from the bones to ensure a normal cell function.Old people, particularly women after menopause, should take calcium supplements to prevent fractures and bone loss that occur with age.
2# Muscle cramps
Despite an adequate level of hemoglobin and sufficient water intake, if you suffer from recurring muscle cramps, you could have low calcium levels. Muscle cramps followed by muscle aches, especially in the thighs and calf muscles, is an early indication of low calcium levels.
3# Lowered bone density
Calcium is required for mineralisation of bones to keep them strong as you grow old. Therefore, low calcium levels directly affect the bone density and increases susceptibility to osteoporosis and fractures.
4# Brittle nails
Like your bones, your nails also need calcium deposits for maintaining their integrity. Lack of adequate levels of calcium could make your nails extremely weak and susceptible to breaks.
Around 99% calcium present in your body is stored in your bones and teeth. Naturally, if your calcium levels drop, you ll be susceptible to toothache and decay. Also, you ll be at a greater risk of suffering from periodontal disease. In children, calcium deficiency has been linked to delayed and defective teething.
6# Premenstrual cramps
Women suffering from calcium deficiency have to go through a lot of pain during their menstruation. The exact mechanism by which calcium could be relieving menstrual pain is not yet clear but its role in muscle contraction and relaxation seem to be crucial. Apart from pre-menstrual cramps, calcium deficiency is also linked to irregular menstruation and excessive bleeding in women. Calcium is also involved in normal development of the uterus and ovarian hormones in women.
7# Frequent illness
Calcium seems to play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system as well. It has been observed that those deficient in calcium are more likely to acquire common respiratory and intestinal infections. Deficiency of calcium reduces body’s resistance against pathogen attack.
Bone and muscle aches generally causes weakness in calcium deficient people. But low calcium levels are also linked to insomnia, fear and mental derangements that increase stress and fatigue. You may look pale and feel tired or lazy all the time. Fatigue is also a common symptom in women who develop calcium deficiency after childbirth. They are more likely to suffer from lack of breast milk, poor concentration and extreme tiredness. Therefore, it is advisable that pregnant women should get a regular supply of 1000-1200 mg calcium every day.
9# Difficulty Losing Weight
Sufficient calcium intake is very important for a healthy body weight. It has been discovered that most obese people don’t consume the required daily need of calcium. Therefore, if you’re struggling to reduce weight, it can be due to deficiency of calcium.
According to a study, dietary calcium plays an important role in regulating the energy metabolism that can accelerate weight loss whereas diets low in calcium attenuate weight as well as fat gain.According to a later study , boosting calcium consumption will spur weight loss, but only in those whose diets lack calcium.
Read – Food For Weight Loss
10#Constant Sleep Problems
Turning and tossing in bed during the night may have a direct effect on your mood as well as work productivity. Deficiency of sleep on the regular basis is also one of the warning signs and symptoms of calcium deficiency in humans.
Calcium helps to produce melatonin, a sleep hormone that aids in maintaining the sleep-wake cycle of your body. Moreover, this sleep hormone can also increase naturally during the night in order to help you to sleep soundly.
Whenever there is the lack of calcium in your body, melatonin production gets hampered. In addition, calcium also acts as a natural relaxant.
Therefore, if you’re having problems staying asleep or falling asleep, you should check your calcium level before reaching for sleep aids. Even drinking 1 cup of warm milk before going to bed may also promote sleep.
Read – Benefits Of Sleeping Naked
What Causes Calcium Deficiency?
We know calcium is a vital mineral for building strong bones and teeth and to help stabilize blood pressure, but did you know it has a major role in how our inner body functions? Calcium is needed for the release of hormones and enzymes, blood coagulation, regulating muscle contractions, transmission of nerve signals, and moving blood through our blood vessels.
Calcium deficiency occurs when your body is not receiving enough minerals such as calcium and goes through a process called demineralization. Without this vital alkaline mineral, your body relies on the existing calcium in your bones, teeth, and organs, which leads to calcium deficiency.
As we age, our bone density decreases naturally; and since most of our calcium is stored in our bones, our daily requirement for calcium increases. Other factors in losing calcium levels in our blood system include:
- High sodium and phosphorus intake
- Deficiencies in vitamin D and magnesium
Health conditions can also play a part in low calcium absorption or loss. This can include chronic kidney disease, thyroid issues, gastric bypass surgery, and even certain prescription drugs such as anti-seizure medications, proton pump inhibitors, and chemotherapy drugs.
The amount of calcium you need every day depends on your age and gender:
Younger To Age 50 -1,000 mg* daily.
Age 51 To Older- 1,200 mg* daily
Younger To Age 70-1,000 mg* daily
Age 71 To Older-1,200 mg* daily
This includes the total amount of calcium you get from various foods and supplements.
Calcium Rich Foods To Include In Your Diet
Each day we lose some amount of calcium through our nails, skin, hair, sweat, urine and faeces. Our bodies cannot produce new calcium and this requirement is fulfilled by extracting calcium from our bones. This adversely affects bone density causing the bones to become soft and weak. This increases the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Deficiency of calcium can lead to health issues like muscle cramps, loss of appetite, lethargy, convulsions, numbness in fingers and toes and abnormal heart rhythms. Thus, the best way to fulfill this deficiency is to increase the intake of foods that are rich in calcium.
1# Low Fat Cheese
Among the dairy products, cheese is a good source of calcium. Moreover, unlike other dairy products, it has low lactose content and is suitable for those who are intolerant to lactose. It enables re-mineralization i.e. deposition of calcium and phosphorus in teeth, thus strengthening tooth enamel. Mozzarella Non fat cheese has the highest concentration of calcium with 1 cup shredded cheese providing 1086 mg or 109% DV of this mineral. Other varieties that are good sources of calcium include low fat Swiss (27% DV), reduced fat Parmesan (31% DV) and cottage cheese 2% fat (2%).
2# Low Fat Milk & Yogurt
Milk is considered as one of the best sources of calcium. A cup serving of low fat milk contains 306 mg or 31% DV of calcium. Low fat yogurt is another dairy product that can be a good alternative to milk. Besides, the culturing process involved in the preparation of yogurt makes it easy on your digestive system. An 8 ounce serving of yogurt provides 225 grams of calcium which is more than the same amount of milk provides. Plain yogurt also contains 10 to 14 grams of protein which is equivalent to 20% of the daily protein requirement. You can use yogurt in salads, soups and desserts to improve the nutritive value and taste of the food.
Read – Protein rich smoothie
3# Fortified Soy Products
Fortified soy products like tofu are also high in calcium. A 100 gram serving of raw tofu contains 350 mg or 35% DV of calcium while 100 grams of fried tofu contains 372 mg or 37% DV of calcium. Other soy products like unsweetened soy milk or non-fat soy milk with added calcium and vitamins A & D are also quite good sources each providing 13% DV of calcium.
Some might hate the taste of this leafy green vegetable but the fact remains that it has a great source of calcium. A cup serving of chopped broccoli provides 62 mg or 6% DV of calcium. It is also low in calories, as a one cup serving of cooked broccoli boiled in water provides just 54 calories. You can incorporate this veggie in your diet to boost your calcium levels and obtain other benefits of leafy greens as well!
5# Okra (Lady Finger)
Okra is a very common vegetable. Did you know that a cup of properly cooked okra will give you about 175 milligrams of calcium? Thus, you can combine okra with your meals by serving it as a side dish alongside your non-vegetarian dishes like chicken or any type of meat. This will increase the nutritional value of your meal. However, overcooked okra will not give you enough calcium as boiled or properly cooked okra.
When we talk about calcium rich foods, nuts cannot be left behind. Almonds are one of the richest sources with 100 grams almonds providing 378 mg or 38% DV of calcium. A serving of 23 kernels (1 ounce almonds) contains 161 calories. So increase the consumption of these crunchy nuts to get a boost of calcium as well as heart healthy mono unsaturated fats and magnesium.
7# Dried Figs:
If you despise milk and milk products, you need not worry as there are plenty of other sources of calcium. Dried figs are one of them. Just 2 dried figs can provide you with 65 mg of calcium. These dried fruits are also packed with antioxidants and fibre. A cup serving of uncooked dried figs contains about 300 mg of calcium.
Apart from being rich in calcium, these tangy fruits are also rich in vitamin D which is required for the absorption of calcium in the body. A medium orange contains 65 mg calcium which is equivalent to about 6% DV of this mineral. It is also rich in vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant. You can have this fruit as a mid-morning snack or squeeze out its juice and have it at breakfast. A cup of orange juice from concentrate contains about 55 mg of calcium.
Dehydrated apricots are better sources of calcium when compared to the fresh and dried ones, with about 61 mg obtained from 100 g. The fresh ones give you 13 mg while dried ones are still better with a decent 55 mg.
Greens should always form a part of your regular diet. When it comes to spinach, we always remember how Popeye, the sailor used to eat it to become stronger. Spinach is a very good source of calcium. You can have spinach in your salads, in curries or even as soups. A cup of cooked spinach will give you about 250 milligrams of calcium. It’s high time to follow Popeye’s rules. Not just as salad or soups but spinach can be combined with various continental dishes too. Spinach can be combined into pasta dishes to give you a good boost of calcium and other nutrients.
11# Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are loaded with calcium providing 975 mg or 98% DV of calcium in a 100 gram serving. Besides calcium, sesame seeds are rich in vitamin E, B-vitamins like B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15 as well as protein and heart healthy poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats. You can incorporate them in your diet by sprinkling them in salads or preparing tahini by blending them with roasted garlic, lemon juice, chickpeas and spices.
12# Soy milk:
Soy milk can be a great alternative to dairy milk. It is also a good source of calcium. Unfortified soy milk contains about one-fourth the amount of calcium in milk. But fortified soy milk is at par with milk in terms of its calcium content. Apart from this, it is low in fat and high in protein. It is particularly a good option for those who are lactose intolerant and cannot have regular dairy milk.
13# Firm Tofu
Firm tofu is prepared by grinding and boiling dried soybeans and is considered a great alternative to meat products. It has a good source of calcium providing 861 mg or 86% DV of this mineral in a half cup serving. It is also rich in proteins and low in fat.
14# Black-eyed Peas
Black eyed peas, as their name suggests, are white legumes with a small black dot in the centre that resembles an eye. Besides being a tasty addition to recipes, these legumes are also a good source of calcium. A cup serving of canned black-eyed peas contains 390 mg or 36% DV of calcium. These beans are also loaded with folate, potassium and other nutrients. You can prepare a black eyed pea spread and add it to your sandwich or any other appetizer for a nutrient boost.
15# Pink Salmon
This is another fish rich in calcium content. You can always have shallow fried salmon for your lunch or dinner; they help you keep in shape too. In about 100 grams of canned pink salmon, you can get about 282 milligrams of calcium.
While you get 88 mg calcium from 100 g small olives, the same quantity of jumbo ones yields 94 mg. Plus, olives are excellent sources of iron rendering about 18% of RDA. You also get 12% of recommended dietary fiber from the above-mentioned quantity of this fruit.
This is widely used as a spice in India, rather than being eaten as a fruit. But it is a fruit that offers you quite a good dose of calcium. To be precise, 74 mg from 100 grams, meeting 7.4% of the recommended value. Plus you get 628 mg of potassium along with 20% of recommended daily value of dietary fiber.
18# European Black Currants
Also known as the quincy berries, these are god sources of vitamin A as well as antioxidants and flavonoids. A 100 g of these berries provide about 20% RDA of iron while giving you 55 mg calcium. These fresh currants are also a good source of other essential minerals, including potassium, manganese, and magnesium, all which are helpful in improving the rate of metabolism.
Celeries are very good sources of calcium. About two and a half cups will give you round about 85 milligrams of calcium. Celeries can be blanched, combined with brown bread and eaten as a snack or cooked as some other side dish for supper or dinner. Properly blanched celeries can be added to salads too.
These are a good source of calcium. You can always have berries for a fruit salad or combine them to make a berry smoothie. About 100 grams of blackberries contain about 32 milligrams of calcium.
Who doesn’t like strawberries? These are another good source of calcium. About 100 grams of strawberries contain about 15 milligrams of calcium.
Raspberries are the loved fruit of many. 100 grams of tasty raspberry will contain about 22 milligrams of calcium.
21# Poultry Products
Eggs are one of the most well-known sources of calcium. You must always include one egg daily in your diet.
A boiled egg contains about 50 milligrams of calcium.
Chicken, however, contains a low calcium content of 13 milligrams only per 100 grams of meat.
Dried Medjool dates are a wonderful source of this bone-strengthening mineral along with being a potential powerhouse of energy. A 100 g serving of this Medjool variant gives you about 64 mg, making it to 6% of the daily recommended dose. You also get about 39 mg calcium per 100 grams of the Deglet Noor variant of dates.
While seedless golden raisins give you 53 mg calcium per 100 grams, the other seedless variant is equally good with a 50 mg yield. The seeded variant gives you much less, 28 mg per 100 grams, to be precise.
24# Custard Apple
Also known as the Bullock’s Heart, the fleshy fruit with distinct black seeds contain about 40 mg calcium in 100 grams. A calorie-laden fruit, the presence of calcium makes it a good choice for pregnant and lactating women.
Choose the frozen, undiluted concentrate version of pineapples to get a good amount of calcium. Make sure your concentrate is free of sugar too. However, the fresh pineapple slices give you just 13 mg. So, if you love pineapples and want to include it as a source of calcium in your diet, then try to get hold of its concentrated form which gives you 39 mg of this essential nutrient.
To get more information related to health problems, go to our main Health page. After studying hope that this article will help you learn more some warning signs to determine this deficiency as well as overcome it. If you have any question or comment, please leave them below, I will respond you as soon as possible. Also, you can share your experiences with us if you know other signs and symptoms of calcium deficiency in humans. Like us on facebook also for daily updates.