Silent Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Calcium

Calcium is an essential bone-building nutrient, but what happens if you don't get enough? If these symptoms sound familiar, it's time to get checked by your doctor and ramp up calcium-rich foods in your diet.

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Signs you need more calcium - leg cramps
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Signs of Calcium Deficiency

You get frequent muscle cramps

You’re sound asleep and the cramp strikes. It’s an inching, creeping pain in your hamstring or calf that awakens you from a deep slumber. Sound familiar? Muscle cramps actually have more to do with calcium than potassium, so instead of reaching for a banana, grab a glass of milk instead.

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Signs you need more calcium - mature woman enjoying sunshine
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You’re lacking the sunshine vitamin

In order to absorb calcium, your body must have enough vitamin D—they’re buddies, so to speak. And to get enough vitamin D from the sun, you’d need to be naked outside for an hour everyday (which may upset your neighbours!). As a dietitian, I recommend that everyone get their vitamin D levels tested and stock up on vitamin D-packed foods, like fatty fish.

Find out the healthiest fish you can eat.

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Signs you need more calcium - arm x-ray
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A simple bump breaks a bone

Our bodies stop building bones in our twenties. And in our thirties, the calcium we eat helps to keep those nutrients in our bones. If a simple bump breaks a bone, it’s critical to eat more calcium-rich foods and begin a weight training program.

Brush up on the risk factors for osteoporosis.

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Signs of calcium deficiency - sliced steak
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You feast on too much meat

A diet high in protein can cause our kidneys to excrete more calcium. If you follow a very high protein diet, such as keto or paleo, it may be putting you at risk for calcium deficiency.

Here are the signs you’re eating too much protein.

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Signs of disease your teeth can reveal - mature woman brushing teeth
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Your teeth are suffering

Calcium and phosphorous team up to keep our teeth strong. Tooth decay is one of the signs of calcium deficiency, because when we don’t eat enough calcium-rich foods our body begins to pull the calcium it needs from our bones and teeth.

Find out the signs of disease your teeth can reveal.

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Tired and depressed senior jan with headache
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You’re feeling the low-calcium blues

Calcium is linked to depression, and if you’ve been feeling a daily dose of blues, consider the food and mood connection. The DASH diet—which encourages three servings of dairy a day—has been shown to decrease depression.

Here are the best foods to boost your mood.

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Signs you need more calcium - senior woman grocery shopping
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You’ve ditched dairy

Dietary restrictions—like veganism or paleo—often target dairy, and such restrictions can lead to a calcium deficiency. If you’ve given up cow’s milk, load up on other calcium-rich foods like anchovies, broccoli and almonds.

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Ridges in fingernails
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You’re plagued with itchy skin and brittle nails

Our skin and nails are good indicators of health. Dry, broken and brittle nails may give a glimpse into our blood calcium levels. And psoriasis and eczema have both been linked to calcium deficiency. It’s important to get checked by your physician and supplement with calcium citrate.

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How to improve heart health - checking blood pressure reading
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You suffer from high blood pressure

Calcium is part of our blood pressure regulation. Following the DASH diet can help ramp up calcium in our diet and regulate our blood pressure.

Now that you know the signs of calcium deficiency, find out how the MIND diet meal plan feeds your brain.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home

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