What causes calcium deficiency?

The causes of calcium deficiency differ depending on the type of calcium deficiency.

Causes of dietary calcium deficiency

Dietary calcium deficiency is most commonly caused by failure to consume optimal levels of calcium in the diet over an extended period of time. A deficiency of vitamin D, phosphorus or magnesium, all of which promote calcium absorption and use, can also cause dietary calcium deficiency. Milk and enriched products contain vitamin D and the minerals phosphorus and magnesium. Your skin can also produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.

Causes of hypocalcemia

Hypocalcemia, a low level of calcium in the blood, can develop due to a variety of causes including:

  • Certain cancers, including breast and prostate cancer

  • Certain surgical procedures, such as the removal of the stomach

  • Hypoparathyroidism (low levels of parathyroid hormone, which regulates and maintains calcium and phosphorus levels)

  • Kidney failure

  • Medications, such as diuretics and chemotherapy

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)

  • Sepsis (blood infection)

  • Vitamin D, magnesium or phosphate deficiency

What are the risk factors for calcium deficiency?

Risk factors for calcium deficiency vary depending on the type of calcium deficiency.

Risk factors for dietary calcium deficiency

The main risk factor for dietary calcium deficiency is not consuming enough foods containing calcium. Individuals who adhere to a strict vegetarian diet and those with food allergies or lactose intolerance may have difficulty consuming enough calcium in their regular diets. You can reduce the risk of dietary calcium deficiency by consuming low-fat, calcium-rich foods, or using calcium supplements as recommended by your health care provider.

Other risk factors include:

  • Advanced age or past middle age (51 years or older)

  • Alcoholism

  • Dairy allergy

  • Extreme levels of regular, strenuous exercise

  • Family history of calcium deficiency

  • High-protein or high-fiber diets

  • High phosphorus levels

  • Lactose intolerance

  • Postmenopause

  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding

  • Unbalanced weight-reducing diets that do not include calcium-rich foods

  • Vegetarian or vegan diets

Risk factors for hypocalcemia

Hypocalcemia involves low calcium levels in the blood. Risk factors include:

  • Certain cancers, including breast and prostate cancer

  • Certain surgical procedures, such as the removal of the stomach

  • Hypoparathyroidism (low levels of parathyroid hormone, which regulates and maintains calcium and phosphorus levels)

  • Kidney failure

  • Medications, such as diuretics and chemotherapy

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)

  • Sepsis (blood infection)

INTRODUCTION

What is calcium deficiency?

Calcium deficiency is a condition in which the body has an inadequate amount of calcium. Calcium is a mineral that is essential for many aspects of health, including the health of bones and teeth, and a normal heart rhythm. This mineral is also required for muscle contractions and relaxation, nerve and hormone function, and blood pressure regulation.

... Read more about calcium deficiencyintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of calcium deficiency?

The symptoms of calcium deficiency vary depending on the type of calcium deficiency, the underlying cause, the severity, and individual factors.

Symptoms of dietary calcium deficiency

There are generally no symptoms of dietary calcium deficiency until bone thinning occurs and fractures develop in weakened bones. Symptoms can be vague, take years to develop, an... Read more about calcium deficiencysymptoms

TREATMENTS

How is calcium deficiency treated? 

Prompt diagnosis and treatment of dietary calcium deficiency reduces the risk of developing serious complications, such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and osteoporosis. Treatments involve replacing the body’s depleted calcium stores and may include:

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 1, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles


What's Causing Your Symptoms?