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.
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.
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.
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.