Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It can be found in many common foods, taken as a supplement, or even injected. That said, it’s interesting to consider how many people struggle with calcium deficiency and how it affects dental hygiene.
Hypocalcemia (calcium deficiency disease) is a condition where your blood needs more calcium to operate at normal levels. A lack of calcium over time can also lead to the development of osteoporosis and osteopenia, separately defined as:
Osteoporosis: a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.
Osteopenia: reduced bone mass of lesser severity than osteoporosis.
Both conditions impact parts of our jawbones that support the teeth. Tooth loss or mobility is common in these cases. Awareness of the calcium deficiency signs and symptoms helps assure you and your family are protecting your teeth and bones by eating the recommended calcium intake for adults and children.
12 Surprising Calcium Deficiency Symptoms
Let’s address the most commonly asked question first. What are the symptoms of calcium deficiency? Some of these answers may surprise you as calcium deficiency symptoms can range from pesky headaches to major tooth decay. Because we can’t see the calcium ebb and flow from our bodies, detecting the deficiency can be tricky if you aren’t monitoring your calcium intake regularly. Here are a few calcium deficiency symptoms to look for:
1. Confusion or memory loss
2. Muscle spasms
3. Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
4. Weak or brittle nails
5. Tooth decay
6. Chipped teeth
7. Tooth mobility
8. Tooth loss
10. Muscle cramps
The signs and symptoms of calcium deficiency in teeth aren’t easy to detect either. You may notice an increase in cavities or have teeth chipping easier than they should. If the deficiency is caught in its early stages, you can be fairly easy to replenish your calcium supply and fortify that bone and teeth foundation.
Causes of Calcium Deficiency
The body is constantly rebuilding calcium to compensate for erosion and breakdown that naturally occurs as we use our teeth and bones. Fortunately for most, this rebuilding process quickly makes up for any calcium lost. When the body fails to replace calcium at the rate it is broken down, a calcium deficiency is the result.
The most common cause of calcium deficiency is a lack of calcium intake during an extended period of time, usually during childhood years. For instance, kids who should have eaten more calcium-rich foods growing up may not reach their potential height. These kids are more likely to develop calcium deficiency disorders than those who develop bad calcium consumption habits later in life. This means it’s important to reinforce eating calcium-rich foods early on in the growth of a child.
These deficiencies can also be caused by medications that affect your body’s calcium absorption, dietary intolerances to calcium-rich foods, hormonal changes, and even genetic factors. To keep these conditions at bay, it’s important for you and your family to consume the daily calcium recommendations for your age groups.
Calcium recommended dietary requirements (RDAs) are different depending on your gender and how old you are. For children and teens, girls and boys have the same calcium dietary requirements. As we get older, and women enter menopause, they require higher doses of calcium than men do.
How to Treat Calcium Deficiency
How to treat calcium deficiency will vary depending on the severity of the condition. For mild cases, diet changes are usually enough. Calcium supplements can be another simple fix. Before adding any supplements to your diet, consult with your doctor about the right dosage for your diet. Too much calcium can be just as dangerous as not enough.
Try not to take more than 500 mg of supplements in a day. If you’ve been taking more than the recommended amount, check for signs of calcium toxicity like calcium deposits. Calcium supplements should also be paired with the right dosage of magnesium. Magnesium prevents calcium from dissolving in the blood, which keeps it from depositing into tissues. A rise in popularity surrounding calcium-rich foods without increasing our magnesium intake has led most of the population to an unhealthy imbalance.
People who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis should also take vitamin K2 with their calcium supplement to strengthen bones and protect the arterial walls from calcium leak. If your calcium levels don’t normalize after implementing diet changes or taking supplements, your physician may decide to administer calcium injections.
As usual, prevention is the best way to treat calcium deficiency teeth. Do so by scheduling regular teeth cleanings, using enamel strengthening toothpaste, monitoring your calcium serving sizes, and indulging in foods high in calcium.
Foods High in Calcium:
- Sardines and canned salmon
- Beans and lentils
- Sweet potatoes
- Edamame and tofu
- Butternut squash
- Leafy green vegetables
Try adding a few of these items to your daily or weekly diet. There are dozens of other calcium-rich foods to choose from, but these are some of the most concentrated. If left untreated, a deficiency of calcium can leave teeth less resistant to normal stresses and more vulnerable to decay, chips, and cracks.
Other possible long-term effects of calcium deficiency include cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, cancer, and osteoporosis or osteopenia. Start monitoring you and your family’s calcium intake today, your strong teeth and mighty bite will thank you later.