1/3/2017

Hypocalcemia: Symptoms, Treatment, Causes, & More

Healthline → Reference Library → Calcium De ciency Disease

Calcium De ciency Disease
Written by April Khan and Ana Gotter
Medically Reviewed by

Overview

Causes

   
Symptoms

Diagnosis

Hypocalcemia in infants

What is calcium de ciency disease?
Highlights
1

Calcium de ciency disease, also known as hypocalcemia,

2

Symptoms of hypocalcemia can include weak hair, nails,

3

Taking more than your doctor’s recommended dose of

increases the risk of developing diseases like osteoporosis.

memory loss, and seizures.

calcium could be fatal.

http://www.healthline.com/health/calcium-deficiency-disease#Symptoms3

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Hypocalcemia: Symptoms, Treatment, Causes, & More

Calcium is a vital mineral. Your body uses it to stabilize blood pressure and
build strong bones and teeth. When you don’t get enough calcium, you
increase your risk of developing diseases like osteoporosis, osteopenia, and
calcium de ciency disease (hypocalcemia).
You should consume the recommended amount of calcium per day through
the food you eat, supplements, or vitamins.
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What causes calcium de ciency
disease?
The natural aging process can cause calcium
de ciency disease. Most of the calcium in your
body is stored in your bones. As you age, your
bones begin to thin or become less dense. This
increases your daily calcium requirement.
For children and teenagers, the recommended
daily allowances for calcium are the same for both
sexes. According to the National Institutes of
Health (NIH), the daily allowances are:
Age group

Daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

Children, 9-18 years

1,300 mg

Children, 4-8 years

1,000 mg

Children, 1-3 years

700 mg

Children, 7-12 months 260 mg
Children, 0-6 months

200 mg

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Hypocalcemia: Symptoms, Treatment, Causes, & More

According to the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines, calcium requirements
for adults are:
Group

Daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

Women, 71 years and up 1,200 mg
Women, 51-70 years

1,200 mg

Women, 31-50 years

1,000 mg

Women, 19-30 years

1,000 mg

Men, 71 years and up

1,200 mg

Men, 51-70 years

1,000 mg

Men, 31-50 years

1,000 mg

Men, 19-30 years

1,000 mg

Women need to increase their calcium intake earlier in life than men,
starting in middle age. Meeting the necessary calcium requirement is
particularly important as a woman approaches menopause.
Women in menopause should also increase their calcium intake to reduce
the risk of osteoporosis and calcium de ciency disease. The decline in the
hormone estrogen during menopause causes a woman’s bones to thin
faster.
The hormone disorder hyperparathyroidism may also cause calcium
de ciency disease. People with this condition don’t produce enough
parathyroid hormone, which controls calcium levels in the blood.
Other causes of calcium de ciency disease include malnutrition and
malabsorption. Malabsorption is when your body can’t absorb the vitamins
and minerals you need from the food you eat. Additional causes include:
low levels of vitamin D, which makes it harder to absorb calcium
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Hypocalcemia: Symptoms, Treatment, Causes, & More

too much potassium, which can burn up calcium
medications, such as those for thyroid replacement
If you miss your daily dose of calcium, you won’t become calcium de cient
overnight. But it’s still important to make an e ort to get enough calcium
every day, since the body uses it quickly. Vegans are more likely to become
calcium de cient quickly because they don’t eat calcium-rich dairy products.
Calcium de ciency won’t produce short-term symptoms because the body
maintains calcium levels by taking it directly from the bones. But long-term
low levels of calcium can have serious e ects. 

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What are the symptoms of calcium
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de ciency disease?
Early stage calcium de ciency may not cause any symptoms. However,
symptoms will develop as the condition progresses.
Severe symptoms of calcium de ciency disease include:

http://www.healthline.com/health/calcium-deficiency-disease#Symptoms3

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Hypocalcemia: Symptoms, Treatment, Causes, & More

confusion or memory loss
muscle spasms
numbness and tingling in the hands, feet, and face
depression
hallucinations
muscle cramps
weak and brittle nails
easy fracturing of the bones
Calcium de ciencies can a ect all parts of the body, resulting in weak nails,
slower hair growth, and fragile, thin skin.
Calcium also plays an important role in both neurotransmitter release and
muscle contraction. So, calcium de ciencies can bring on seizures in
otherwise healthy people.
If you start experiencing neurological symptoms like memory loss,
numbness and tingling, hallucinations, or seizures, make an appointment to
see your doctor as soon as possible.

How is calcium de ciency disease
diagnosed?
http://www.healthline.com/health/calcium-deficiency-disease#Symptoms3

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Hypocalcemia: Symptoms, Treatment, Causes, & More

Contact your doctor if you have symptoms of
calcium de ciency disease. They’ll review your
medical history and ask you about family history
of calcium de ciency and osteoporosis.
If your doctor suspects calcium de ciency, they’ll
take a blood sample to check your blood calcium
level. Sustained low calcium levels in your blood
may con rm a diagnosis of calcium de ciency
disease.
Normal calcium levels for adults can range from 8.8 to 10.4 milligrams per
deciliter, according to the Merck Manual. You may be at risk for calcium
de ciency disease if your calcium level is below 8.8 mg/dL. Children and
teens typically have higher blood calcium levels than adults.

Neonatal hypocalcemia
Neonatal hypocalcemia occurs in infants soon
after birth. Most neonatal hypocalcemia occurs
within the rst two days after birth. But late onset
hypocalcemia can occur three days after birth or
later.
Risk factors for infants include being small for
their age and maternal diabetes. Late onset
hypocalcemia is most often caused by drinking
cow’s milk or formula with too much phosphate.
Symptoms of neonatal hypocalcemia include:
jitteriness
poor feeding
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Hypocalcemia: Symptoms, Treatment, Causes, & More

seizures
apnea, or slowed breathing
tachycardia, or a faster-than-normal heartbeat
Diagnosis is made by testing an infant’s blood for the total calcium level or
ionized calcium level. The infant’s glucose level will also be tested to rule out
hypoglycemia.
Treatment typically involves giving intravenous calcium gluconate followed
by several days of oral calcium supplements.

How is calcium de ciency disease
treated?
Calcium de ciency is usually easy to treat. It
typically involves adding more calcium to your
diet.
Do not self-treat by taking a lot of calcium
supplements. Taking more than the
recommended dose without your doctor’s
approval can lead to serious issues like kidney
stones or even a calcium overdose, which can be
fatal.
Commonly recommended calcium supplements include:
calcium carbonate, which is the least expensive and has the most
elemental calcium
calcium citrate, which is the most easily absorbed
calcium phosphate, which is also easily absorbed and does not cause
constipation
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