The Consequences of Calcium Deficiency

In this article, discover the consequences of a lack of dietary calcium in the body. Maintaining adequate levels of this mineral can reduce the risk of developing diseases.
The Consequences of Calcium Deficiency
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Calcium deficiency is a nutritional deficiency that negatively impacts a person’s health. Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body and it’s important to ensure its supply with food on a regular and continuous basis to avoid suffering from the consequences of calcium deficiency.

Fortunately, many of the products you eat in your diet contain calcium. Maintaining a varied diet ensures that you’re getting enough of it, although vitamin D is also important to ensure its absorption.

However, although it’s abundant in nature, some people suffer from calcium deficiency, so we’ll tell you what the consequences are and why it’s important to monitor its intake. This is particularly important during menopause.

A lack of calcium leads to osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a common disease among menopausal women. It causes a progressive demineralization of the bones that increases the risk of fractures, which conditions the lifestyle of those who suffer from it.

Once the disease has begun its progression, it’s difficult to reverse it, so prevention is essential. The medicines and treatments available try to stop the damage already caused, but bone replacement is almost impossible. Lack of calcium during adulthood is potentially risky for increasing the chances of osteoporosis. This is confirmed by research published in the journal Maturitas, in which a correct mineral intake is linked to a reduction in the impact of the condition.

In any case, it’s essential to control the consumption of the nutrient to not exceed it. An exaggerated increase in intake leads to suffering from kidney stones. Therefore, the daily dose shouldn’t exceed 2000 milligrams.

In addition to calcium intake, frequent sun exposure, or the supervised use of vitamin D supplementation is recommended. This micronutrient participates in mineral absorption and bone metabolism. The administration of both substances together helps reduce the risk of fractures in adulthood, as certified by a study published in Osteoporosis International.

A bone molecule.
Osteoporosis is common in menopausal age, and the addition of preventive calcium becomes key

Also read: 7 Habits that prevent osteoporosis

Calcium deficiencies in athletes

Calcium isn’t only an important nutrient for inactive individuals. It’s also especially important for an athlete’s body.

In addition to ensuring electrolyte balance, maintaining adequate levels of calcium in the body could reduce the risk of muscle cramps. It’s even been speculated that supplementing this mineral can help reduce leg cramps in pregnant women, as well.

However, research published in the Journal of Research in Medicinal Sciences hasn’t found a clear association. The suspicion is derived from the intervention of calcium in cellular metabolism, both from neurons and myocytes (muscle cells).

Calcium intervenes in the transmission of nerve impulses. Excessive loss of this mineral in the athlete, through sweating, can condition muscle contractility and sports performance. Therefore, it’s important to ensure the maintenance of electrolyte balance by consuming mineral-rich beverages when exercising, especially in high-temperature situations.

Consequences of calcium deficiency: Spasms

Another symptom of calcium deficiency in the diet is muscle spasms or fasciculations. This is just a set of muscle contractions visible under the skin.

They are spontaneous and involuntary. It’s not harmful to the body and if you experience this feeling you needn’t worry.

If the symptom recurs, and under particular circumstances, a consultation isn’t unnecessary. However, in pregnant women, for example, or hypertensive people, spasms hide a major underlying problem that refers to blood circulation. It’s not an emergency, but blood tests may be ordered to study it.

A man with cramp.
Lack of calcium can cause cramps, especially in athletes

This may interest you: 7 Home solutions to reduce muscle spasms

Preventing hypercalcemia

To prevent these deficiency situations it’s important to adjust the calcium in your diet. Frequently including nuts, green leafy vegetables, and dairy products is an effective strategy.

It’s important to remember the importance of maintaining adequate amounts of vitamin D to improve mineral uptake. Optimizing the production of this substance involves frequent safe exposure to the sun. It’s also important to enrich your diet with bluefish, eggs, and enriched dairy products.

In the case of suspected vitamin D deficiency , you should consult a specialist to assess the need for supplementation. This situation can lead to an increase in the risk of diseases in the medium and long term.

Calcium deficiency and long-term complications

One of the main complications of calcium deficiency is osteoporosis. Although women are more likely to develop this disease, men can also be diagnosed. To reduce your risk, it’s important to include calcium-rich foods in your diet, as well as monitor your Vitamin D levels. Including vegetables and dairy products is a good option to prevent this disease.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Cano A., Chedraui P., Goulis DG., Lopes P., et al., Calcium in the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis EMAS clinical guide. Maturitas, 2018. 107: 7-12.
  • Morente Martínez, Jordi. “Etiología de los calambres asociados a la práctica deportiva.” (2019).
  • Weaver CM., Alexander DD., Boushey CJ., Dawson Hughes B., et al., Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation and risk of fractures: an updated meta analysis from the national osteoporosis foundation. Osteoporos Int, 2016. 27 (1): 367-76.
  • Mansouri A., Mirghafourvand M., Charandabi Alizadeh SM., Najafi M., The effect of vitamin D and calcium plus vitamin D on leg cramps in pregnant women: a randomized controlled trial. J Res Med Sci, 2017.
  • Sánchez, Ariel, et al. “Tratamiento de la osteoporosis.” REVISTA ARGENTINA DE MEDICINA 7.3 (2019): 174-186.
  • Sánchez, Jorge Manuel Balestena, and Dorayma Machín Carballo. “Variaciones de los niveles de calcio y otros parámetros bioquímicos en la enfermedad hipertensiva gestacional grave.” Revista Cubana de Obstetricia y Ginecología 44.4 (2019).
  • Varsavsky, Mariela, et al. “Recomendaciones de vitamina D para la población general.” Endocrinología, Diabetes y Nutrición 64 (2017): 7-14.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.