• Fri. Sep 22nd, 2023

Why Is Calcium Important? Know The Early Signs Of Its Deficiency And How That Impacts Humans

BySymbels Journal

Mar 1, 2023

By Dr Ranjana Sharma

Calcium is a mineral that is required to build and maintain strong bones and carry out many other important functions in the body. Calcium is needed for muscle movement, cardiovascular health and for nerves to carry messages from the brain to every part of the body. Calcium also helps blood vessels move blood throughout the body and helps release hormones that in turn affect other bodily functions.

Early signs and symptoms of calcium deficiency 

Nearly 98 per cent of calcium is stored in the bones which act as a reservoir of calcium and maintain normal calcium levels in the blood (homeostasis). When you don’t get enough calcium, you are at risk of developing several disorders. It leads to reduced calcium in your bone, increases the risk of osteomalacia and contributes to osteoporosis.  

Calcium deficiency may not cause any symptoms at the early stages. However, symptoms start to develop when the deficiency becomes severe. A severe calcium deficiency can produce symptoms such as numbness and tingling in the fingers, muscle and bone tenderness, muscle spasms and abnormal, burning sensation around the mouth and fingers and seizures. Other symptoms include anxiety, low blood pressure, irritability, difficulty in swallowing, spinal or hip pain, brittle nails/hair and fractures. Long-term calcium deficiency can trigger permanent loss of bone which causes fragility, broken bones and even loss of mobility. 

Women need an extra dosage of calcium

Girls reach their highest bone mass by adolescence and start to lose bone mass as they age. Therefore, adequate calcium intake during their teens helps prevent weak bones during adulthood. Calcium intake is very important during pregnancy and lactation. Since the foetus and the newborn are dependent on maternal sources for calcium, the skeletal density of the mother depletes. Adequate calcium consumption during this time is essential to increase maternal calcium storage and retain bone health. During menopause, too, the hormone oestrogen declines, causing low bone density. Globally, nearly 3 out of every 10 postmenopausal women suffer from osteoporosis. In India, almost 48.8 million women have osteoporosis.  

How much calcium do you need?

The normal calcium requirement in adults is 600 mg per day with the requirement increasing to 1,200 mg a day in pregnant women. Some good sources of calcium include milk, curds, nuts, foxtail millet (Ragi) and green leafy vegetables. However, if you’re not getting enough calcium from your diet, supplements can be the right option for you after consulting with your doctor. Depending on your profile and calcium needs, the doctor will choose the right supplement for you.

If you are concerned about not getting enough calcium, consult your doctor to boost your intake with the right calcium supplement. 

(The author is a senior consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi)

[Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and views expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website are personal and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs, and views of ABP News Network Pvt Ltd.]

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