Women and Children are at the highest risk of Hypocalcemia or Calcium Deficiency!
Hypocalcemia or Calcium Deficiency is highly prevalent across the world with elderly and young children being at the highest risk. Women become more susceptible to hypocalcemia during different stages of life such as adolescence (childbearing age), pregnancy, and menopause. Additionally, certain health conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders, thyroid disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis can also directly or indirectly (medications hindering the absorption of calcium in the body) cause hypocalcemia.
Other than natural stages of life requiring high calcium intake, there are several lifestyle choices that can lead to hypocalcemia in otherwise healthy persons. For example, excess caffeine consumption, alcohol abuse, and insufficient availability of Vitamin D will decrease the absorption of Calcium. In this article, we will highlight five such major lifestyle patterns and how they affect the calcium levels in the body.
Calcium is critical for our physical and mental health!
As the most abundant mineral in your body, Calcium is essential for its overall functioning affecting both physical and mental faculties alike. Calcium makes up approximately 2% of the total body weight. Calcium levels control and contribute towards many basic body functions such as disease prevention, muscle functioning, sleep patterns, and also absorption of other essential nutrients.
Our body uses 99 per cent of its calcium to keep the bones and teeth strong, thereby supporting skeletal structure and function. Rest of the Calcium is present in plasma and bloodstream, helping regulate cell signalling, blood clotting, muscle contraction, and nerve function. Cells use calcium to activate certain enzymes, transport ions across the cellular membrane, and send and receive neurotransmitters during communication with other cells.
Consuming enough dietary Calcium i.e. between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams per day for healthy men and women and is a must for optimal nutrition and health.
Lifestyle patterns and dietary choices affect Calcium Absorption in the body!
While it is difficult to control some natural factors related to health conditions and life stages that lead to hypocalcemia, one can vigilantly focus on either increasing their calcium intake or avoid factors resulting in low absorption to avoid running into low Calcium levels. For the lifestyle choices that lead to malabsorption, lower intake, or even higher excretion of Calcium; one needs to consciously and persistently avoid such situations and actively manage their health. So, here we go and learn about the primary lifestyle patterns that cause hypocalcemia.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Inadequate exposure to the Sun, milk allergies or a vegan diet may put you at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D occurs naturally only in a few foods including some fish and fish liver oils. Rest is made available via fortified functional foods such as egg yolks, dairy, and grain products.
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones because it helps the body to metabolize calcium from the diet. Improper calcium absorption due to Vitamin D deficiency doesn’t allow the bone tissues to mineralize, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities, a condition also termed as Rickets.
Excessive consumption of alcohol adversely affects bone density in multiple ways. Alcohol hampers bone growth and remodelling process leading to low bone density. Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption interferes with the working of hormones that regulate the calcium level in the blood. For example, alcohol negates working of steroid reproductive hormones and growth hormones that indirectly control Calcium metabolism in the body.
Also, alcohol abuse damages the liver. This results in absence of the enzymes needed to convert vitamin D, hence further hampering calcium absorption.
Parathyroids control the level of calcium in the blood and hence eventually calcium concentration in the bones. This, therefore, determines the strength and density of the bones.
If the calcium levels in the body fall due to insufficient intake of dietary calcium, it results into an excessive release of parathyroid hormone. This leads to lower calcium levels in the plasma stream causing the brain run-downs as well as muscle spasms.
Consumption of caffeine and soda
Caffeine and sodas contain high amounts of phosphoric acid and phosphates which leech the calcium out of the bones. This leads to osteoporosis, a situation with very low bone density. Additionally, women in their forties and fifties are naturally highly susceptible to osteoporosis during their post-menopausal stage due to multiple changes in their body system.
Somebody who is facing low Calcium levels needs to totally avoid caffeine and soda. Another measure would be to phase out intake of caffeine-rich foods and calcium-rich foods to minimise the impact of interference.
Excessive Sodium Intake
High quantities of sodium in the bloodstream could also be behind lower calcium levels in your body. As sodium facilitates absorption of calcium into the urine, this can result in excessive excretion of this essential mineral from your body. As much more Calcium is being rejected from the bloodstream due to high Sodium levels, Calcium levels drastically drop in the blood. The blood then compensates for its lower levels by absorbing more calcium from the bones. This whole cycle would eventually result in the symptoms of Hypocalcemia.
Excessive Sodium level in the bloodstream is also the culprit behind many other health disorders such as elevated blood pressure levels, excessive sweating and unease, and even kidney failure. Hence, one should reduce their salt intake and avoid foods that have unnecessarily high levels of sodium salts in them. Processed foods usually fall into the category of high sodium foods.
Mineral Equilibrium: Calcium-Magnesium-Phosphorus
The three key mineral elements of the body, Calcium, Magnesium, and Phosphorus go hand in hand in performing the major bodily functions. Calcium helps in the formation of bone and teeth, but it also plays a role in keeping the heart and muscles working the right way by governing contractions. Magnesium is also a constituent of bone but serves as the principal player for controlling potassium and calcium uptake, assisting nerve electrical activity, and managing the metabolism of carbohydrates. Phosphorus seconds in abundance to calcium, and is necessary for bone growth, kidney function, cellular health and acid-alkaline balance. As these three elements work together to regulate the functioning and maintain the respective balance amongst themselves; deficiency of even one can lead to a huge imbalance in the other two mineral levels.
How to prevent Hypocalcemia – Steps to increase Calcium Availability!
Calcium-rich foods such as milk, yoghurt, fish, eggplant, and meat facilitate a healthy system. They improve the bone health and make the teeth stronger. Mineral supplements can also do the job, however more often than not synthetic consumption leads to adverse health effects. In case of Calcium supplements, the majority are to be blamed for even causing hypercalcemia, calcium imbalances on the higher side.