Calcium is not only important for bones, but also for many other body functions. Therefore, a lack of calcium can have numerous negative consequences. But how can a calcium deficiency be recognized and which foods can be used to counteract it?
First of all, it is important to know that a lack of calcium absorption over a short period of time usually goes unnoticed. However, if there is an undersupply over a longer period of time, this can have a variety of negative effects.
Increased risk of osteoporosis and lower bone mass
“Over time, low calcium intake can have detrimental effects on various body systems, including contributing to low bone mass and a risk of osteoporosis,” reports rheumatologist Dr. Chad Deal from the Cleveland Clinic (USA) in a press release.
A pronounced calcium deficiency, which is also known as hypocalcemia, is typically associated with constant fatigue, which, according to the expert, is due to an undersupply of nutrients to the cells.
However, the blood values often initially appear normal because the required calcium is withdrawn from the bones and teeth, which makes the latter more susceptible to tooth decay, among other things. Calcium deficiency over a long period of time can also increase the risk of periodontitis and other periodontal diseases.
Important for the muscles
Calcium also contributes to the proper functioning of the muscles and plays an extremely important role in tensing and relaxing the muscles. Not only can calcium deficiency cause pain, stiffness, and cramps in the muscles, but it also contributes to the muscles functioning less effectively, says Dr. Deal.
According to the expert, impaired muscle function can also affect the heart. It is possible that a calcium deficiency results in an irregular heartbeat.
Confusion, drowsiness and dizziness
Calcium is also important for brain function. If there is a lack of calcium, confusion, lightheadedness and dizziness can occur, reports Dr. Deal.
And calcium plays an important role in the central nervous system, which means that a deficiency can affect the nerves, which can result in tingling or numbness in the extremities.
Depression due to calcium deficiency
Furthermore, a study shows that the lack of calcium also apparently increases the risk of depression. Increased calcium intake reduced the prevalence of depressive symptoms in the study.
Counteract calcium deficiency through diet
Overall, it is therefore important to make sure that your diet includes enough foods with calcium. Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese are a good basis when it comes to absorbing more calcium, explains Dr. Deal.
However, a variety of other foods are also rich in calcium. For example, the expert recommends consuming kale, green leafy vegetables, broccoli and bok choy. But sardines, almonds and sesame also contain calcium.
It is also possible to counteract a deficiency by drinking mineral water with calcium, says Dr. Deal. In another article from the Celveland Clinic, nutritionist Anthony DiMarino explains that calcium-fortified fruit juices or grain products and tofu are also helpful here.
Likewise, nuts and seeds can increase calcium absorption, explains DiMarino. For example, chia or sesame seeds are recommended. Overall, a calcium deficiency can be counteracted with the help of the right diet. (as)