Hypocalcemia or low serum calcium levels in pregnant females can be caused by decreased calcium intake and increased calcium excretion. One of the biggest factors of hypocalcaemia is low socio-economic status, because of poor nutritional and low daily calcium intake. Malabsorption may also cause hypocalcaemia, this occurs when the body is incapable of absorbing vitamins and nutrients from food.
What is Calcium Deficiency
Normal serum calcium levels are as follow:
- Newborns 8.8-11.3 mg/dl
- Infants and young children between the ages of 1-5, 9.5-10.8 mg/dl
- Children 6-12 years of age 9.4-10.3 mg/dl
- Women 20-70 years of age 8.8-10.0 mg/dl
Premature babies that are born to diabetic mothers will have a high risk of developing neonatal Hypocalcemia. These babies will exhibit respiratory distress, when they are born.
Pregnant and breastfeeding teens need a daily allowance of calcium intake of 1,300 milligrams/daily. Pregnant and breastfeeding adults require 1,000 milligrams/daily.
What are Calcium Deficiency Disease
Hypocalcemia is also a secondary diagnosis that occurs when someone undergoes a thyroidectomy (removal of the thyroid gland). Parathyrin (parathyroid hormone) controls the serum calcium levels, which is reduced, which someone undergoes a thyroidectomy. It is often short-term and treated with calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, with vitamin D2. Vitamin D helps the body absorb more calcium, which is needed in this case.
Diseases that are caused by calcium deficiency is also linked to a compromised vitamin D status.
- Autoimmune disease
- Osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones)
- Osteopenia (early sign of bone loss, with a low bone mineral density testing results)
- Cancer (colon, rectum, prostate)
It has not been determined, whether calcium deficiency makes one at a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases. Calcium also has little or no effect on body weight.
Signs of Calcium Deficiency
- Involuntary muscle contraction
- Arrhythmia (irregular heart beat)
- Paresthesia (tingling, numbness in hands and feet)
- Muscle cramps
- Memory loss
What Does Calcium Do For The body
Calcium is a nutrient that is absorbed from the foods we eat. It is responsible for maintaining strong bones and healthy teeth. Calcium is required, in order for messages to be transmitted from the brain to all body parts. It also helps muscles and blood vessels to contract and move blood throughout the body. This nutrient also aids in hormones and enzymes being released into the body.
How Much Calcium Do I Need
The daily recommended allowance of calcium for children include (NIH):
- Birth to 6 months of age 200 milligrams/daily
- Infants 7-12 months of age 260 milligrams/daily
- Children 1-3 years of age 700 milligrams/daily
- Children 4-8 years of age 1,000 milligrams/daily
- Children 9-18 years of age 1,300 milligrams/daily
- Adults 19-50 years of age 1,000 milligrams/daily
- Men 51-70 years of age 1,000 milligrams/daily
- Women 51-70 years of age 1,200 milligrams/daily
- Adults 71 and over 1,200 milligrams/daily
Calcium Enriched Foods
Since calcium is not produced in the body, you must consume enriched foods to supply your body with the sufficiency required.
- Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese)
- Green vegetables (cabbage, kale, broccoli)
- Grains (breads, pastas, unfortified dried cereals)
- Fortified fruit, soy, and rice beverages
Treatment For Calcium Deficiency
While many individuals that suffer from low serum calcium levels will try to compensate with Tums and Rolaids, these products may not be sufficient enough to increase the serum calcium levels.
Calcium carbonate is absorbed better, with the consumption of foods.
Increased intake of calcium can potentially lead to kidney stones. It is advised to avoid taking calcium, in conjunction with antibiotics (doxycycline, tetracycline), levothyroxine, phenytoin, and tiludronate disodium (medication given to treat Paget’s). Wait 2-4 in between taking calcium and these drugs, no interactions will occur.