Most people hear calcium and think of milk and bones. The truth is this doesn’t even begin to describe the physiological role of calcium, what our bodies use it for, how much we need or how to know if we are lacking it in our own personal diet. So how do we know if we are getting enough calcium, and where do we get this information? This blog article aims to inform you about the most valuable signs for pinpointing inadequacy or deficiency based on the clinical research available to us.
Using Traditional Blood Testing To Test Calcium Levels
Many people believe that the only way to test your calcium levels is through bloodwork. This is not testing your calcium levels; it is testing your blood calcium levels. This small difference matters because calcium is required outside of the blood for all its physiological effects (described below). By testing blood for calcium, we only measure what is in the blood being transported to other areas of the body, not what is being used or assimilated – much like measuring the number or delivery drivers on the road, but not how many deliveries are being made.
It’s also important to understand that calcium’s blood levels are tightly regulated by the body. If the blood level of calcium drops, the body quickly leeches it from bones and other tissues to keep blood levels stable. For this reason, people can be suffering from osteoporosis yet have perfectly normal blood calcium levels. The body will pull calcium from the bones up until the point of death, just to ensure blood-calcium is maintained.
Therefore, blood work does not give you an accurate depiction of the calcium supply in your body and whether or not you are suffering from the effects of calcium deficiency.
The Physiological Role of Calcium in The Body
So, what exactly is calcium responsible for? Calcium is great for teeth and bones and aids in their formation, yet this is just the beginning. Calcium also plays a crucial role in blood clotting, heart rhythm, hormonal functions, nerve transmission, muscle growth and contraction, reduction of cholesterol and lipid levels, reduction of triglycerides in the blood and therefore blood pressure as well.
With all of the physiological functions we can assert that if any of these functions begin to become impaired that we may be suffering from reduced calcium levels within the body, however that would be hard to measure.
Throughout the years many studies have been done which deprive animals and people of calcium so the effects can be documented and measured. This testing has led to clinically documented symptoms which are associated with calcium deficiency or insufficiency, which when supplied with calcium are improved. This shows the direct correlation between these symptoms and a reduced level of calcium within the body.
What are the warning signs of a calcium deficiency?
It's important to note that when using symptomatology to discern whether or not you may be lacking a specific nutrient, you should consider to what degree the symptom manifests, how many of the symptoms you experience and how relevant are they to your present state of health. As an example, if I were only to suffer from 1 of these 7 warning signs I would not assume I have a calcium deficiency, the same goes for if I only mildly experience it or if I used to experience it and have not for over a month.
The 7 major signs of calcium deficiency that you can look for are:
Increased blood pressure. If you suffer from high blood pressure this is a telltale sign of calcium insufficiency. However, if you typically have low or even normal blood pressure and it begins to raise this is a sign to note and associate with an imbalance in body calcium levels.
Muscle twitches. Many people shake these off as just simple annoyances that are random. Some experience twitches in their arm or leg muscles while others even notice their eyelids or facial muscle twitching. Being aware of these twitches and not ignoring them could help substantially, in getting to the root cause.
Irritability. Although many people believe this to just be a mood or an emotional response it's worth noting that many emotional responses occur or are exaggerated due to nutrient and/or chemical imbalances within the body. If you are irritable or have become irritable lately and can’t, put your finger on exactly why, you may want to consider (low) calcium as the culprit.
Insomnia. This happens to the best of us. I am certain that everyone in their life suffers from insomnia at least on one occasion, which seems to be normal. The difference here is that you are suffering from it for an extended period of time, or at least frequently enough to notice that it is becoming an issue without any other outside influence affecting our sleep. Low calcium levels can certainly contribute to this.
Brittle hair or nails. Often suffer from nails that crack, break and bend easily? This is almost certainly a sign of nutrient deficiency – especially calcium. Since calcium is required for hair and nail growth, when we lack sufficient amounts our hair and nails (along with bones) become brittle and are prone to cracking and breaking. Keep an eye out for this one.
Cramps in feet and calves. Not only are these surprising and painful but they can indicate a larger issue – calcium inadequacy. Most often people notice these during or after exercise and at night during sleep. If you wake up with cramps in your calves or bottom of your feet you may want to explore whether you are getting enough calcium.
- Depression and Anxiety. This is a major symptom and not one to take lightly. Mental health issues are greatly impacted by our diet and lifestyle and are not to be speculated about. It is very important that you contact a health professional for personal recommendations if you are suffering from either anxiety or depression. It is definitely noteworthy that these symptoms are documented to be related to calcium deficiency.
As mentioned previously, if these symptoms are new or you are just beginning to notice them you may want to explore how much calcium you are consuming through both food and supplements and whether or not you are meeting the recommended allowances for you specific age and sex demographics.
Look out for these 7 warning signs and document them in order to stay on top of your body and how calcium may be inadvertently affecting more than just your bones.
This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific health condition. It is meant to inform and empower you to understand your health and how nutrient imbalances can be explored and perceived through your body’s own warning systems.