Many people worry if they get enough calcium. We explain how to avoid a calcium deficiency.
The diagnosis of calcium deficiency
Calcium is almost the best known and probably also the most frequently supplemented mineral. Since calcium is associated in particular with bone and dental health, many people are interested in how their calcium balance is doing.
While an iron deficiency is diagnosed very frequently, relevant values and measurements are also known for the iron balance. However, hardly anyone knows which measurements and values are required for a proper diagnosis of a calcium deficiency.
The tasks and functions of calcium
A large part of the body’s calcium is found in the bones (99 percent), so calcium is often referred to exclusively as the “bone mineral”. But the mineral has many other tasks and functions in the body.
For example, calcium stabilizes cell membranes, activates blood clotting, is involved in the transmission of stimuli in muscle and nerve cells and supports numerous enzyme functions.
The calcium requirement of an adult is about 1000 to 1200 mg per day.
The calcium level in the blood says nothing about the supply status
The doctor occasionally determines the calcium value in the blood serum or in the urine (24-hour urine collection). However, never in order to tell the patient afterwards whether they are getting enough calcium or not. Because the calcium value in the blood says next to nothing about the condition of the calcium supply of the respective person. The body makes sure that the blood always contains more or less 1 percent of the body’s calcium. The rest is tucked away in the bones.
If a lot of calcium gets into the blood with food, the excess calcium is immediately channelled into the bones or excreted with the stool and urine. If the calcium level in the blood falls, the required calcium is immediately mobilized from the bones again.
If this control circuit no longer works properly and the calcium value in the blood rises or falls permanently, this is usually a sign of an illness (thyroid, parathyroid, liver diseases, cancer, etc.) or of harmful external influences (e.g. vitamin D overdose or vitamin D deficiency, laxatives, other medications).
But if you just want to know whether you are well supplied with calcium, e.g. to have healthy and strong bones into old age, does not get very far with the calcium blood values. On the contrary, the calcium levels in the blood can still be perfectly fine even with pronounced osteoporosis.
Whole blood values are of little use to the patient
While conventional medicine usually determines values in the serum (without the blood cells), orthomolecular physicians or holistically oriented physicians often carry out vital substance analyses in whole blood. This means that the respective vital substance proportions in the blood cells are also determined, from which one can often deduce the corresponding supply in the tissue.
In terms of calcium, however, this is of no use either, because calcium is only about 10 percent in the blood cells and 90 percent in the serum.
What does a bone density measurement mean
So basically the only thing left is the bone density measurement. It is only paid for by health insurers if the doctor has a concrete suspicion of osteoporosis.
But the purpose of measuring bone density is also questionable, especially in younger people. Because a calcium deficiency would have to be very extreme for bone density to decrease measurably in young and middle age.
Bone calcium is not a good marker of bone health
In addition, good bone density reflects the calcium content of the bones but says nothing about actual bone health. With osteoporosis, the risk of fracture increases in particular because the connective tissue structures of the bone recede and it loses its elasticity. However, the supply of calcium cannot influence this breakdown of connective tissue. This is more likely to be achieved through exercise and the intake of magnesium and silicon.
Incidentally, without movement, the calcium from food or calcium supplements is not built into the bones. Bone formation and thus calcium incorporation can only be achieved through movement stimuli.
Healthy bones, therefore, need significantly more than calcium.
Calcium in serum and whole blood
Holistic therapists often determine both serum and whole blood mineral levels, so disturbances in the cell metabolism can be better recognized. If – using the example of calcium – the value in the cell (whole blood) rose, this would be a sign of a lack of energy in the cell, which would promote fermentation processes and could indicate a precancerous stage. However, neither one nor the other value is particularly useful for diagnosing a calcium deficiency.
Calcium deficiency: the self-diagnosis
There are currently no reliable tests or values for assessing the calcium supply. It makes much more sense to examine your own lifestyle and diet. This often provides very quick information about your personal calcium supply. To do this, answer the following questions:
1. How much calcium does your food provide?
Look at your diet for one or more days and add up the approximate calcium content of your meals using nutritional tables that you can find all over the internet. In this way, you can quickly find out how much calcium you consume on average with food.
2. Do you look for factors that promote calcium absorption from food?
When putting together your diet, do you pay attention to factors that promote calcium absorption or do you avoid factors that could worsen your calcium supply? (Example: Fruits promote calcium absorption, too much salt, as well as coffee and black tea, worsen the calcium balance).
3. Do you take medication that causes calcium depletion?
A number of drugs inhibit calcium absorption, increase calcium requirements or promote excessive calcium excretion in the urine. These drugs include the following:
- Antacids (to bind gastric acid, e.g. Rennie etc.)
- Some immunosuppressants
- Acid blockers (proton pump inhibitors, e.g. omeprazole, pantoprazole, etc.)
- Drugs for epilepsy
- cortisone preparations
- thyroid hormones
- Diuretics (for drainage)
So if you must take one or more of these medications, look for safer alternatives or consult your doctor about calcium supplements.
Also, check other medications you are taking for possible interactions with calcium metabolism.
4. Do you have health problems that favour a calcium deficiency?
Stomach problems, chronic intestinal diseases, diabetes or kidney dysfunction can promote calcium deficiency.
5. Do I have a healthy digestive system
You should take a closer look at the condition of your digestive system. Do you suffer from food intolerances? Digestive irregularities? upset stomach? Then there is a great risk that your intestines will not be able to absorb all the nutrients and vital substances to their full extent – neither of course the calcium, regardless of how much calcium and/or vitamin D you ingest.
The following holistic measures can help you to clean up your digestive system:
- Eat a healthy diet, preferably with an alkaline-excessive diet.
- Take holistic measures for your stomach.
- Think about the structure of your intestinal flora. (The healthier the intestinal flora, the healthier your intestinal mucosa and the better the absorption of calcium or of all nutrients and minerals) or carry out an intestinal cleansing.
- In the case of food intolerance, specific measures are selected according to the type of intolerance. For more information, see the individual intolerances: fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance, histamine intolerance
- Have regular colon cleanses with fasting and/or colonics
6. Are you getting enough exercise?
With regard to bone health, calcium is only useful if you also ensure sufficient exercise. Because only movement exerts on the bone cells the stimuli required for bone formation and calcium incorporation.
Strength training is ideal here, as it provides the necessary intensive stress on the bones, which then leads to the activation of the bone cells. Of course, you can combine strength training with endurance training in order to not only think about your bones but also about your cardiovascular system.
7. Are you consuming enough vital substances?
Check your vitamin D and vitamin K supply, because only with enough vitamin D can the calcium from food be absorbed into the blood via the intestinal mucosa and only with enough vitamin K can it be properly distributed in the organism (into the bone and not into the blood vessels or other soft tissue).
But be careful: A permanent overdose of vitamin D in connection with a high calcium supply can lead to too much calcium being absorbed and then actually being incorrectly stored in the organs.
Moreover, to measure your vitamin D levels, it is not even necessary to go to the doctor. You can order a vitamin D blood test online and find out your current vitamin D status in a few days.
8. Do I need a calcium supplement?
Is your calcium requirement currently so high that you cannot cover it in the short term through diet alone? (e.g. in the case of a low-calcium diet, corresponding diseases, hyperacidity)
Based on your answers, you will first be able to assess whether you should take calcium supplements and secondly, you can decide what lifestyle changes you should make to ensure better calcium utilization in the future (exercise more, take vitamin D and vitamin K, etc.).
Calcium deficiency diagnosis: The right calcium supply
The diagnosis of a calcium deficiency is basically only possible after a thorough analysis of one’s own lifestyle and diet.
If you need a calcium supplement, you want to make sure that you take it in the right ratio to magnesium. It should always be 2:1. This way it gets optimally absorbed.