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What Causes Calcium Deficiency?

Allison Boelcke
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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Calcium is a mineral that makes up the teeth and bones. It is also found in certain foods, allowing most people to supply their bodies with calcium through their diets. Calcium deficiency is a condition in which the body does not absorb enough calcium. It can be due to lifestyle choices or underlying medical conditions. Not having enough calcium can cause bones to weaken and be more likely to fracture or break.

One possible cause of deficiency in calcium is eating an unbalanced diet. It can occur when a person does not eat foods containing calcium, such as milk, cheese, or yogurt. People who do not include calcium-containing foods in their diets can prevent deficiency by taking calcium supplements. Deficiency caused by a poor diet tends to have less serious results and can be easier to treat than other medical conditions.

Calcium deficiency can also be caused by preexisting medical issues that prevent the body from properly digesting or absorbing calcium from food or supplements. It can occur in people who have kidney malfunction or have had their stomach removed. Some medications, especially those that increase urination, may also affect the body’s calcium absorption.

Certain factors may make a person more likely to have calcium deficiency. Those who are lactose-intolerant have a higher probability of not having enough calcium in their diets. Lactose is the sugar in milk that some people cannot properly digest. Since dairy foods tend to contain the most calcium, people who are lactose-intolerant will often not be able to safely or comfortably have them in their diets. Taking calcium supplements or drinking calcium-fortified orange juice can help prevent deficiency.

People who have eating disorders also have a higher likelihood of developing calcium deficiency. Women who have lost enough weight to stop menstruating tend to be at the highest risk of not absorbing enough calcium. They are more likely to have calcium exit the body through their urine instead of staying in their bones. This can also occur in athletes who over-exercise and do not retain enough calories.

Women who have gone through menopause are also at a higher risk of their bones not properly absorbing enough calcium, even if they include adequate amounts in their diets. When women permanently stop menstruating, their bodies don’t produce as much of the female hormone estrogen. Lower amounts of estrogen make it more difficult for the body to get the adequate calcium amounts. Doctors may prescribe female hormone therapy to postmenopausal women in order to increase estrogen levels and help with deficiency.

Common symptoms of less serious calcium deficiency include fatigue, loss of appetite, and improper blood circulation that can cause fingers to feel numb. People with more serious cases of deficiency may have irregular heartbeats or seizures. If deficiency is left untreated, it can be fatal.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Allison Boelcke
By Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke, a digital marketing manager and freelance writer, helps businesses create compelling content to connect with their target markets and drive results. With a degree in English, she combines her writing skills with marketing expertise to craft engaging content that gets noticed and leads to website traffic and conversions. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By anon352204 — On Oct 20, 2013

@anon73009: You may be deficient in vitamin K2. Calcium is needed by the body, vitamin D increases the calcium concentration, and vitamin K2 turns on the body's switch to ensure that the available circulating(and often stored) calcium gets shuttled to the desired places, such as bones and teeth vs. calcifying arteries or the pineal gland. When taking K2, take the mk7 version(though some say mk4 for bones). Also, realize it acts in the blood clotting process. If you are on medications like coumadin or warfarin, ask a doctor how to approach this. Do your own research as well.

By anon268351 — On May 14, 2012

Get your vitamin/mineral analysis done. Take coral calcium, but add it to organic apple cider vinegar and let it dissolve, then add water and drink it down. The vinegar will the calcium dissolve. You don't have enough stomach acid to dissolve it. So you are not benefiting from it.

By anon189607 — On Jun 23, 2011

What about how certain foods make the body acidic (meat, eggs, dairy) and the body needs to maintain a certain ph with its calcium stores?

By anon85386 — On May 20, 2010

have you been tested for celiac disease?

By anon73009 — On Mar 25, 2010

I have thyroid disease, and Graves disease. I take meds for this, and after few years of this, found out that the meds rob you of calcium, so I went on fosomax, had a bone scan and the results showed osteoporosis.

Now this is worse and the doctor does not understand why my body is not retaining the calcium. Do I stop the fosomax, take double Vitamin D and Vitamin C and go back on the estrogen patch? Help. I am damned if I do and damned if I don't. Just turned seventy, and do not like it one bit.

Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke, a digital marketing manager and freelance writer, helps businesses create compelling content to connect with their target markets and drive results. With a degree in English, she combines her writing skills with marketing expertise to craft engaging content that gets noticed and leads to website traffic and conversions. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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