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What are Some Calcium Deficiency Symptoms?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 17, 2024
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Some of the most common calcium deficiency symptoms include cracked or peeling nails, paleness of the skin, and numbness or tingling, particularly in the hands and feet. Extreme tiredness is another symptom, and young women may experience reproductive problems or delayed puberty if they don’t get enough. People can often be calcium deficient for a long time without experiencing any symptoms, though, since many are actually caused by bone density problems that take a long time to appear. In most cases there isn’t any outward or visible sign that anything is wrong until the deficiency is really serious. The easiest way to prevent this is for people to make sure that they’re getting enough of the element in their diet. Many foods contain calcium, and supplements are available in most places, too.

Immediate Symptoms

People don’t usually notice that they have a calcium deficiency right away, in part because there aren’t really any immediate symptoms. The human body stores calcium in the teeth and bones, and it can draw from these sources when the diet doesn’t provide enough. Slow leaching doesn’t usually produce any noticeable symptoms, at least not right away, and this can cause people to think that they are fine when they may in fact be deficient.

Nail and Skin Issues

One of the first thing people usually notice about calcium deficiency is how it impacts the fingernails. They often become brittle, dry, and prone to peeling. The skin may also grow pale and dry, and the hair often starts to lose its shine and luster. People who are paying close attention may also notice a lot more split ends. Nails, skin, and hair all depend in large part on calcium for strength, but they are often low priorities for the body when it comes to allocating calcium that’s essentially be “robbed” from other places. Many organs and most muscles require the mineral for proper functioning, so diverting the leached calcium to these places first usually makes the most sense.

Numbness and Tingling

More extreme forms of calcium deficiency may also cause numbness and tingling in the hands, feet, and arms. People often describe this as similar to how it feels when parts of the body “fall asleep,” but it’s usually a lot more serious. Numbness usually happens when the nerves that carry signals through the body aren’t getting enough of the mineral to function properly, and this can lead to a number of more serious long-term health issues. This sort of tingling tends to come and go, and won’t usually disappear with movement or activity. The only thing to do is to wait it out, which can be uncomfortable and disconcerting.

Uncontrollable muscle twitches or small spasms can happen for the same reason. These tend to be brief, often only lasting for a few seconds, though they often recur throughout a day or specific activity. Most will disappear once a person stops using the impacted muscles, or else supplies the muscles with some alternative form of energy.


People with serious calcium deficiencies may also experience extreme tiredness or lethargy. Sleep is one of the best chances the body has to restore and rebuilt itself, and triggering rest is often one of the first ways to conserve energy and rebuild calcium supplies. When people suffer from this symptom they often find that they have a somewhat cloudy perception of the world around them, too, and may complain of light-headedness or dizziness.

Delayed Puberty

Some studies have shown that girls who experience extreme calcium deficiency in early childhood may experience a delay in puberty, and may have stunted or otherwise impaired reproductive function. These young women are usually more prone to irregular periods and intense menstrual cramping. This usually only happens in cases of extraordinary calcium deprivation, however, and isn’t common. There are usually a lot of factors that play into puberty and reproductive function.

Bone Mass Problems

Leaching calcium out of the bones can lead to very serious skeletal problems over time. The bones generally do a great job of storing calcium, but they’re more than just warehouses; they need the mineral, too. When it is taken out and diverted to other parts of the body, the bones can grow brittle and hollow. This makes them much more prone to cracking and breaking, and can also impact a person’s stature and overall strength.

Bone density problems often take years if not decades to develop. Medical experts and care providers can sometimes screen for them with bone density scans, but in other cases they may not be discovered until a person breaks or cracks a bone. The medical condition covering weakened bones is called osteopenia, and the full-blown disease is known as osteoporosis. Both are most common in women over 50 who are of Caucasian or Asian descent, though they can develop in anyone at anytime.

Dental Issues

Calcium lost out of the teeth can also lead to a range of dental problems, including brittle teeth, weakened roots, and gum irritation. Infants who don’t get enough of the mineral often develop their teeth late, and those teeth may be unusually small. Adults often experience more frequent instances of rot and decay, as well.


The easiest way for people to avoid calcium deficiency symptoms is to be sure that they are getting enough of the mineral in their diet. Most dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt, are very good sources, as are a number of fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens. Some grains also contain it, and many food manufacturers supplement foods like cereal with calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals.

If it isn’t possible to get enough through foods alone, people can often purchase calcium supplements. Some multivitamins contain it, but it’s also relatively common for retailers to sell calcium-specific pills, capsules, or chews that people can take on a daily basis to protect themselves. Most of the time these also come with vitamin D, which many experts believe is essential to proper calcium absorption.

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Discussion Comments
By Kristee — On Dec 08, 2012

Calcium deficiency symptoms in the women of my family didn't usually manifest themselves until the women were old and got osteoporosis. I really feared getting this disease, so I started taking calcium supplements at a young age.

Then, I learned that getting too much calcium through a combination of supplements and diet could lead to kidney stones. I stopped taking the supplements and focused on getting plenty of calcium from food, because I had seen my best friend suffer through a painful bout with kidney stones, and I wanted none of that!

I think it's always best if you can get what you need through natural foods. Supplements just aren't natural, so we can't know all the risks involved.

By JackWhack — On Dec 07, 2012

I use to worry that I wasn't getting enough calcium, because I was tired all the time and didn't drink a lot of milk. However, after reading a calcium rich foods list, I no longer worried about this, because I was getting plenty.

I was surprised to learn that many fruits, like apples and bananas, contained calcium. Also, spinach and cabbage, which I ate on a daily basis, were good sources.

Ice cream, though it can do bad things to your waistline, is a great source of calcium. I ate this every day for dessert.

By giddion — On Dec 07, 2012

After reading this article, I have come to believe that I had a calcium deficiency as a young teenager. I hit puberty rather late, and my mother even took me to my doctor to see why I hadn't developed my period yet.

He didn't mention anything about calcium, as far as I can remember, but to me, it makes perfect sense that I probably had a deficiency. I hated cheese, and I didn't like to drink milk, so the only milk I ever got was in my cereal. I also hated the taste of yogurt, and I didn't like broccoli or beans.

It's amazing that I wasn't even more unhealthy. Over the years, my taste buds have changed, and I get a lot more calcium in my diet now. I still won't eat cheese, but I've added all the other sources I mentioned to my diet.

By Oceana — On Dec 06, 2012

@alex94 – The best calcium supplement I ever used was in the form of a little chocolate square. It was chewable, and I took one a day.

It was just like eating a piece of chocolate candy. I had no problem remembering to take it, and I even looked forward to getting this treat while on a diet.

By anon151320 — On Feb 10, 2011

Society has not yet determined whether optimal health of young women has been achieved, given the number of young women told they are lactose intolerant.

If infants suffer calcium deficiency because of that problem, there should be a special tort for physicians who neglect the possibility of causing future problems for patients by ignoring the ramifications that their advice can be harmful to not only a patient but also offspring of their patient in the future. That it may be "tracked back" in the knowledge age of today seems just and appropriate to prevent professional negligence problems of physicians who do not consider the full life implications of the patients they see, and what problems may be foreseeable.

By anon120892 — On Oct 22, 2010

Calcium is not as important for bones and muscles as it is for your nervous system. Your skeleton merely acts as a calcium reserve for your body where 99 percent of calcium is stored.

If you're worried about your skeleton, make sure you're getting enough vitamin D so that you don't develop rickets!

By calabama71 — On Jul 11, 2010

@alex94: You should always consult your doctor before taking any over the counter medications. I take Caltrate. I have taken it for years. Most drug stores and pharmacies have their own brand and it is a little cheaper than the name brands and offer the same effects.

By alex94 — On Jul 11, 2010

Is there something over the counter that I can take for calcium deficiency?

By cmsmith10 — On Jul 11, 2010

Some symptoms of calcium deficiency include problems sleeping, brittle nails, dry skin, and yellowing of your teeth. For women, menstrual cramps can be worse than usual. Leg and arm cramps can also be a sign of calcium deficiency.

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