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Are you getting enough calcium? 5 signs you may need to increase your intake

Are you getting enough calcium? 5 signs you may need to increase your intake

What is calcium and what does it do?

Remember those childhood reminders to drink your milk for strong bones and teeth? Well, there's more truth to that advice than meets the eye. Milk isn't just a tasty beverage—it's a powerhouse of calcium, a vital nutrient that's integral to a host of daily bodily functions.

But what exactly is calcium? Simply put, it's a mineral that acts as a guardian of healthy bones and teeth. Remarkably, about 99% of the calcium in our bodies is stored within our bones, fortifying their structure and strength. [1] The remaining percentage is dispersed throughout our muscles, blood, and various tissues, where it continues to play essential roles.

seniors jogging for bone health

What are the benefits of calcium?

Calcium isn't just a hero for building strong bones and teeth—it's also vital for maintaining healthy bone density, a crucial factor as we age. In our younger years, calcium is a key player in building up bone density, ensuring sturdy skeletal structures. However, as we get older, the balance shifts, and our bodies tend to break down more bone than they form.

Here's the kicker: our bodies don't produce calcium on their own. When our calcium intake falls short, our bodies resort to tapping into the calcium reserves stored within, often drawing from our bones. [2]

It's no wonder why this essential mineral reigns supreme when it comes to bone health.

Calcium is also used for:

  • Cellular function: It helps keep your cells working the way they should. For example, by sending the correct signals to the rest of your body.

  • Supporting muscle function and muscle contraction: It helps your heart muscles pump so that your nerves can send signals that make your muscles contract. Your body needs calcium for normal muscle movement and to help keep muscles strong.

  • Supporting nerve function: For example, by sending signals to the nerve endings in your muscles, calcium helps prevent twitching or spasms.

  • Regulating blood pressure: It does this by helping the blood vessels contract and relax. This aids healthy blood flow. Calcium is also needed for normal blood clotting.

  • Maintaining heart rhythm: Normal calcium levels are needed for muscle contraction, this therefore makes it important for regulating heart muscle contraction.

  • Hormone regulation: Calcium helps your body release hormones and enzymes that are needed for various body functions.


Why is calcium especially important for women?

For women, calcium holds a pivotal role that goes beyond mere health maintenance—it's a cornerstone of well-being, especially considering their typically lower bone density compared to men. Calcium is instrumental in building peak bone mass during youth, a critical foundation as women tend to experience bone loss at a faster rate than men.

But the significance of calcium doesn't stop there. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, it's used by the body to support fetal development and maternal health. Moreover, the hormonal shifts of menopause can impact bone health, underscoring the essential need for sufficient calcium intake to uphold bone health during and after this stage of life. [3, 5]

What is low calcium? 

Many adults in the US may be at risk of being low in calcium. In fact, it's estimated that approximately 70% of US adults get less than the daily intake recommended. [4]

Being low in calcium can lead to a range of symptoms that may impact different parts of the body. The signs of calcium deficiency depend on how low the blood calcium levels are. A calcium deficiency can be difficult to detect as there are no obvious early symptoms that a person may lack calcium. The signs tend to develop over time as calcium levels continue to drop. The best way to be sure is to schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional who can check your calcium levels. 

doctor patient calcium deficiency

5 Signs You May Need More Calcium

  1. Muscle cramps or weakness: Feeling muscle cramps or experiencing weakness can signal a lack of calcium. You might also notice persistent muscle aches and spasms, even after activity.

  2. Weak or brittle nails: Low calcium levels can affect your nails, making them dry and brittle. Additionally, your hair might become coarse and prone to shedding. Severe calcium deficiency can also lead to dry, fragile skin.

  3. Brain fog or cognitive symptoms: In severe cases, calcium deficiency can impact cognitive function and mood. However, these symptoms typically only occur when calcium levels are significantly depleted.

  4. Bone weakness: Since calcium is crucial for bone health, insufficient levels can result in bone loss, leading to weak and brittle bones. This increases the risk of fractures, especially later in life.

  5. Changes in heart health: Calcium is essential for maintaining a regular heart rhythm. A deficiency in calcium may lead to abnormal heart rhythms, affecting heart health.
calcium rich foods

What foods are good sources of calcium?

Some food sources of calcium include:

  • Dairy

  • Sardines

  • Leafy greens like kale and spinach

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Soybeans

What helps with the absorption of calcium?

Vitamin D is important to maintain many aspects of our health. It is also needed by the body to absorb calcium, this is why it is often included in calcium-fortified drinks and foods and calcium supplements. [6]

If you are considering taking a calcium supplement, it's a good idea to seek advice from a healthcare professional before starting supplementation.


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1. Calcium (2023) The Nutrition Source. Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/calcium/#:~:text=About%2099%25%20of%20the%20body’s,in%20the%20blood%20and%20tissues.

2. Shlisky J, Mandlik R, Askari S, Abrams S, Belizan JM, Bourassa MW, Cormick G, Driller-Colangelo A, Gomes F, Khadilkar A, Owino V, Pettifor JM, Rana ZH, Roth DE, Weaver C. Calcium deficiency worldwide: prevalence of inadequate intakes and associated health outcomes. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2022 Jun;1512(1):10-28. doi: 10.1111/nyas.14758. Epub 2022 Mar 5. PMID: 35247225; PMCID: PMC9311836.

3.  Karlamangla AS, Burnett-Bowie SM, Crandall CJ. Bone Health During the Menopause Transition and Beyond. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2018 Dec;45(4):695-708. doi: 10.1016/j.ogc.2018.07.012. Epub 2018 Oct 25. PMID: 30401551; PMCID: PMC6226267.

4. NIH. Calcium: Fact sheet for health professionals. (2019). 

5. North American Menopause Society. The role of calcium in peri- and postmenopausal women: consensus opinion of The North American Menopause Society. Menopause. 2001;8(2):84-95. doi:10.1097/00042192-200103000-00003

6. Christakos S, Dhawan P, Porta A, Mady LJ, Seth T. Vitamin D and intestinal calcium absorption. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2011 Dec 5;347(1-2):25-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2011.05.038. Epub 2011 Jun 1. PMID: 21664413; PMCID: PMC3405161.

Note: The information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with your physician and should not be construed as individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The testimonials on this website are individual cases and do not guarantee that you will get the same results. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only.

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