The chemical element Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It is vital for maintaining a good health. Therefore, it is essential for all living organisms to carry out proper bodily functions and avoid the complications that occur due to its deficiency. It is important to provide the body with the necessary amount of calcium that is required to stay healthy and perform daily activities without interruptions.
Calcium can be provided to the body by the daily intake of calcium containing food items. However, if the amount of calcium received by the body is inadequate, it can lead to many complications.
The Health Capsule got in touch with Doctor Renuka Jayatissa, Consultant Medical Nutritionist at the Medical Research Institute to create concern about ‘Calcium Deficiency’ and how it affects the health.
Why is calcium important to the body?
About 99% of the calcium that is present in our body is found on the bones and teeth. This shows that it is crucial for the proper maintenance of the skeletal system.
“Calcium is required for the proper maintenance of the bones and the skeletal system,”
Dr Jayatissa explained.
She stated that growing children are in need of the correct amount of calcium to grow and develop. Calcium is especially required for adolescence and to maintain an active body.
Calcium is especially important for the elderly people as well. As one ages, the body becomes weaker and more prone to illnesses. Therefore, calcium should be provided to the body to strengthen the bones, teeth and for other functions.
Calcium is lost from the body every day through the skin, hair, nails, urine, feces and sweat. And since our body is unable to produce its own calcium, it is important that we obtain it through consumption of calcium containing food.
Calcium helps to regulate many functions of the body. It regulates muscle contraction, including the beating of the heart muscle. It also plays a major role in blood clotting and acts as a co-enzyme for many enzymes in the body.
Fractures, degradation of bones, collapse of spinal bones and osteoporosis are only some of the concerns. Hair loss and muscle cramps can also be caused
What is calcium deficiency?
Dr. Jayatissa explained that calcium deficiency occurs when the calcium level in the blood becomes lower than the normal value.
If the required calcium is not provided to the body through food, the body will absorb calcium from the bones. If this process occurs on a regular basis, it will lead to many complications and cause severe damages to the skeletal system.
Dr. Jayatissa also stated that the lack of vitamin D is another cause for calcium deficiency. Vitamin D is a type of vitamin that helps the body to absorb calcium. When vitamin D is deficient, the amount of calcium absorbed by the body would decrease and thus lead to calcium deficiency. Therefore Dr. Jayatissa stressed the fact that vitamin D should also be provided to the body in necessary amounts.
How calcium deficiency affects health
As mentioned earlier, calcium deficiency is a state that leads to many serious health issues especially associated with the skeletal system.
Dr. Jayatissa said that when calcium is deficient, the bones would become weak and brittle and be easily prone to fractures. She said that holes in the bones can also occur. The elderly people have a higher risk of having holes in their bones.
Dr. Jayatissa explained that although there are no symptoms like for other diseases, calcium deficiency can be diagnosed by complications that are related to the bones.
Fractures, degradation of bones, collapse of spinal bones and osteoporosis are only some of the concerns. Hair loss and muscle cramps can also be caused. Dental problems such as tooth decay and tooth breakage are common conditions caused due to the less amount of calcium present in teeth.
Other health problems include extreme fatigue, insomnia and lethargy. Dry, broken and brittle nails are also common in a calcium deficient person.
Dr.Jayatissa mentioned that depression stands as a non-confirmed yet rarely seen case in a calcium deficient person.
Preventing calcium deficiency
The main method to prevent calcium deficiency is the adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D containing food. Calcium can also be taken as medication pills as directed
by the physician.
It is important to make sure that all calcium that is lost from the body is replaced on a daily basis.
Dr. Jayatissa advised to consume food such as sprats, yoghurt and curd and also have a good glass of milk. Vitamin D can also be obtained through sunlight. When the skin is exposed to sunlight, it synthesizes large amounts of vitamin D.
According to Dr. Jayatissa, calcium deficiency is seen in people above 40 and most commonly above 70 due to the ageing of the body. However, it can also be caused by falling ill and other imbalances in the body.
Special attention should be given to daily meals and it is best to focus on a balanced diet to stay healthy.