Posted November 18, 2021
People need calcium to stay healthy. It’s essential for bone health, physical growth and a healthy central nervous and circulatory system. But calcium is not a mineral the body produces naturally. Instead, people get it from the foods they eat. Here are four things to know about calcium deficiency.
Impact on oral health
Your body stores about 99% of calcium in the bones and teeth. The mineral helps keep them strong. If the body doesn’t have enough calcium, it will take it from the bloodstream, muscles and circulatory systems.
Scientists say it can take several years before a calcium deficiency is noticed. In the mouth, the signs may show as a weakened jawbone and teeth. Eventually, it can lead to more oral health problems, such as cancer.
Women with a calcium deficiency are at increased risk of developing osteoporosis. Studies show that women with osteoporosis tend to have fewer teeth than those of similar age who don’t have the disease.
Also, people who lose teeth are at risk of developing nutritional problems. With fewer teeth to help with chewing, people may choose softer foods without the essential nutrients the body needs. So, if you lose a tooth, make sure to talk with your dentist about replacing it.
In addition to keeping calcium levels up, people can keep their teeth and gums healthy by practicing good oral habits. Brush teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss teeth daily. Make sure to schedule a dental checkup and professional cleaning at least once a year to help maintain oral health.
Changes to overall health
Medical experts say that a calcium deficiency can affect the body in many ways. Here’s a list of 10 common symptoms:
1. numb or tingling fingertips, brittle nails
2. coarse hair
3. eczema or psoriasis
4. extreme fatigue, dizziness or insomnia
5. abnormal heartbeat
6. poor appetite
7. muscle cramps
9. more painful premenstrual syndrome for women
Eat calcium-rich foods
Often people take supplements to increase the calcium levels in their bodies. But research shows taking these supplements does little to prevent fractures.
Instead of taking supplements, nutritionists advise people to eat several helpings of foods rich in calcium each day. These include dark leafy greens, plant-based milk and dairy products, sardines, canned salmon, white beans, fortified orange juice, almonds and calcium-rich tofu. It’s also important to get plenty of vitamin C and D to help the body absorb calcium efficiently.
Know other causes
In addition to not getting enough calcium through foods, people can develop a deficiency through other means. These include kidney failure, gastric bypass surgery, digestive tract surgery or prolonged use of diuretic medications. Talk with your doctor about the best ways to increase your calcium intake to avoid a deficiency.