As children, we were told to drink milk to grow strong bones. As adults, especially women, our doctors emphasized the importance of getting enough calcium. But just how much is enough? According to the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Nutrition Board recommends 1,000 mg for both men and women aged 19- 50. Women over the age of 51 should aim for 1,200 mg daily and men over 71 should do the same.
Calcium deficiencies can be dangerous. Medical News warns diets low in calcium can cause the body to release a hormone known as PTH. This hormone breaks down bone tissue in order to balance out the decreased calcium levels in the blood. If you are calcium deficient for an extended period of time, you may be at higher risk for osteoporosis.
Below, we detail the signs and symptoms. If you think you may be calcium deficient, talk to your doctor about your diet and the option of taking a daily supplement.
- Leg cramps. A decrease in calcium can cause nerve endings to spasm, says Women’s Health Magazine. This is why night cramps in the calves, hamstrings, and quads are a common sign of calcium deficiency.
- Tingling or numbness. Another effect of spastic nerve endings is tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, says Save Our Bones.
- Cavities. If you’ve suddenly got a few more cavities than usual, your body may be warning you that you’re low in calcium. This is because, according to Women’s Health Magazine, when the body does not get enough calcium through diet, it starts to look for calcium elsewhere, such as your teeth, and extrapolate from there.
- Peeling nails. Just like teeth and bones, the nails store calcium. If yours are peeling, you may not be eating enough calcium, says Women’s Health Magazine. Increase your dairy take, eat more green vegetables and switch to fortified foods. You should notice a difference in nail strength.
- Difficulty sleeping. Save Our Bones reports calcium helps produce the sleep hormone melatonin and calcium levels rise when the body enters deep sleep. If you are unable to reach a state of deep sleep, you may be suffering from a calcium deficiency.
- Humped posture. When the bones are weakened due to calcium deficiency, the body responds by stooping, says Global Healing Center. You may also notice pain in the neck and back.
- Memory loss. Neurological symptoms like memory loss and hallucinations may be explained as signs of calcium deficiency, says Healthline.
- Seizures. Healthline explains calcium is important for proper neurotransmitter function and muscle contractions. Therefore, a deficiency in calcium can cause seizures in otherwise healthy people.
If you think you are effected by calcium deficiency, it’s not enough to drink an extra glass of milk. It is important to visit your doctor and discuss your symptoms with a health professional.